Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows

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Overview

The massacre at Mountain Meadows on September 11, 1857, was the single most violent attack on a wagon train in the thirty-year history of the Oregon and California trails. Yet it has been all but forgotten. Will Bagley's Blood of the Prophets is the most extensive investigation of the events surrounding the murder of some 120 men, women, and children since Juanita Brooks published her groundbreaking study, The Mountain Meadows Massacre, in 1950. Drawing from a wealth of primary sources, Bagley explains how the ...
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Overview

The massacre at Mountain Meadows on September 11, 1857, was the single most violent attack on a wagon train in the thirty-year history of the Oregon and California trails. Yet it has been all but forgotten. Will Bagley's Blood of the Prophets is the most extensive investigation of the events surrounding the murder of some 120 men, women, and children since Juanita Brooks published her groundbreaking study, The Mountain Meadows Massacre, in 1950. Drawing from a wealth of primary sources, Bagley explains how the murders occurred, reveals the involvement of territorial governor Brigham Young, and explores the subsequent suppression and distortion of events related to the massacre.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In 1950, Utah historian Juanita Brooks stunned the Mormon community when she published The Mountain Meadows Massacre, a detailed and careful history of LDS involvement in the 1857 slaughter of an emigrant party from Arkansas headed for California. She argued that Mormons had instigated the attack and then covered up the bloodshed with a vow of secrecy. However, based on the available evidence in the 1940s, her research did not indicate that Brigham Young, the president of the Church, had ordered the attack. Enter this account by Salt Lake Tribune columnist Bagley, who draws respectfully from Brooks's work and also unpublished diaries, letters and other documents to raise the ultimate question: "What did Brigham Young know, and when did he know it?" In this meticulously researched and well-argued book, Bagley provides ample evidence to demonstrate that Young was at least an accessory after the fact, who led the effort at a coverup and eventually scapegoated John D. Lee, a massacre participant who was executed in 1877. Bagley's book presents some new and fascinating source material: accounts by the Paiutes who participated in the attack, memories of the young children who survived it and, most interestingly, the voices of those Mormon objectors who refused to cooperate in the massacre or who dared to break the silence about it afterward. Bagley also does a fine job of situating the massacre within the context of the Mormon Reformation, a short but intense period of fundamentalist zealotry. Although it's not flawless, this study will, like Brooks's, stand the test of time as a reflective and well-researched history of Mormonism's darkest hour. (Sept.) Forecast: There has been a burst of recent interest in the atrocity, including Sally Denton's American Massacre (coming from Knopf) and Judith Freeman's novel Red Water (Pantheon, Jan. 2002). In May, three historians employed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced their own plans to do a full-scale interpretive history of the subject, tentatively titled Tragedy at Mountain Meadows (Oxford, 2003). After that book's publication next year, all relevant documents owned by the Church will be made available to the public for the first time, so there may be still more interpretations in the offing. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
In 1857, over 100 men, women, and children in a wagon train from Arkansas were murdered in southern Utah by local settlers aided by Southern Paiute warriors. For 50 years, Mormon historian Juanita Brooks's The Mountain Meadows Massacre has been the standard work on the subject. Here, independent historian and Salt Lake Tribune columnist Bagley claims only to extend Brooks's work. But by using documents not available to Brooks and by following her example in pursuing the truth wherever it led him while not going beyond the available evidence, he confirms her private opinion that territorial Mormon leader and governor Brigham Young was heavily involved in both the massacre and its cover-up. In the process, Bagley has produced the new standard work on the massacre. This well-written and well-thought-out analysis is essential for all libraries with collections on the West or the Mormons.-Stephen H. Peters, Northern Michigan Univ. Lib., Marquette Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806134260
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Pages: 544
  • Product dimensions: 7.24 (w) x 10.42 (h) x 1.42 (d)

Meet the Author


Will Bagley is an independent historian who has written about overland emigration, frontier violence, railroads, mining, and the Mormons. Bagley has published extensively over the years and is the author and editor of many books, articles, and reviews in professional journals. Bagley is the series editor of Arthur H. Clark Company's documentary history series, KINGDOM IN THE WEST: The Mormons and the American Frontier. Bagley has been a Wallace Stegner Centennial Fellow at the University of Utah and the Archibald Hannah, Jr. Fellow in American History at Yale University's Beinecke Library. Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows has won numerous awards including a Spur Award from Western Writers of America, the Bancroft History Prize from the Denver Public Library, Westerners International Best Book, and the Western History Association Caughey Book Prize for the most distinguished book on the history of the American West. So Rugged and Mountainous: Blazing the Trails to Oregon and California, 1812-1848 is the first of four volumes of Overland West: The Story of the Oregon and California Trails Series.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations XI
List of Maps XII
Preface XIII
Acknowledgments XXI
Prologue: The Mountain Meadow 3
1 Their Innocent Blood Will Cry unto the Lord of Hosts 6
2 The Battle-Ax of the Lord 23
3 Political Hacks, Robbers, and Whoremongers 38
4 The Arkansas Travelers 55
5 I Will Fight Them and I Will Fight All Hell 73
6 We Are American Citizens and Shall Not Move 95
7 The Knife and Tomahawk 123
8 The Work of Death 140
9 The Scene of Blood and Carnage 156
10 Plunder 171
11 All Hell Is in Commotion 188
12 They Have Slain My Children 208
13 Vengeance Is Mine 225
14 A Hideous Lethargic Dream 248
15 Lonely Dell 268
16 As False as the Hinges of Hell: The Trials of John D. Lee 287
17 He Died Game: The Execution of John D. Lee 307
18 The Mountain Meadow Dogs 323
19 Nothing but the Truth Is Good Enough 348
Epilogue: The Ghosts of Mountain Meadows 365
Appendix Victims of the Massacre 385
Notes 391
Bibliography 447
Index 475
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2003

    Heroic Scholarship

    Soon after the Mountain Meadows Massacre, my great-great-grandfather's first wife decided she had had enough of life in Utah, so she left both him and the Territory, running off with a soldier from the Utah Expedition. According to author Will Bagley, disillusionment with Mormonism and Brigham Young was running high in the Territory in the wake of the massacre. I read Bagley's book mainly to learn more about conditions in Utah during the 1850s, when most of my ancestral lines put down roots there. Much of what Bagley reveals has modern parallels. A major factor in creating the emotional climate behind the massacre was the Utah Reformation, an alarming religious revival movement that sounds about as much fun for backsliders as the Chinese Cultural Revolution was for the bourgeois. Southern Utah Mormon leaders' determination to avenge their own previous persecutions by becoming slaughterers of the Arkansas wagon train is similar to what we see happening today in ethnic clashes in the Middle East. The impossibility of impaneling a jury that would convict O. J. Simpson; the refusal of Ken Lay to accept responsibility for Enron's corporate venality -- these and many other present-day dramas will come to mind as you read through the twists and turns of this compelling book. Bagley has related this chilling, heartbreaking story with tenacity and integrity.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2002

    very well researched. he (Bagley ) must have gone everywhere

    Easy to read and captivating This is a good story. Make A GOOD movie .How could this happen? Maybe books like this will keep it from happening again. Good work Bagley.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2002

    BOTP a fine history

    Bagley has done a fine job, indicting the priesthood leadership for the tragic massacre at MM. The scholarship is extensive, accurate, and clear: check the footnotes as I did, and you will find that Bagley is objective the exception that he despises Brigham Young. That bias does not harm the book. The sources make clear that a credible basis for dislike of BY does, in fact, exist. Whether BY ordered it is the question. I will answer that with another question: "Does anyone who knows LDS history believe that the Southern Utah priesthood leadership would destroy an immigrant wagon train without Brother Brigham's knowledge and approval?"

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2002

    Deeply Disturbing, Shocking

    Mr. Bagley's stunning book is proof anew that religious extremists have the will to deface the earth and a people with horrific evil--and to then declare that they have done nothing wrong. The story of what happened at Mountain Meadows is deeply disturbing, as is the ensuing cover-up.

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