Building the Kingdom: A History of Mormons in America

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Mormonism is one of the world's fastest growing religions, doubling its membership every 15 years. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the formal denomination of the Mormon church) is now 10 million strong, with more than half of its membership coming from outside the United States. More than 88 million copies of The Book of Mormon have been printed, and it has been translated into more than 50 languages. Mormons in America tells the tumultuous story of this religious group, from its humble origins in small-town New York State in 1830 to its present heyday. Claudia and Richard Bushman introduce us to charismatic leaders like Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, go deep behind Mormon rites and traditions, take us along the adventurous trail of the Mormon pioneers into the West, evoke the momentous erection of Salt Lake City in the desert, and draw us into the dozens of skirmishes, verbal attacks, and court battles between Mormons and their neighbors, other religions, the media, and the American government.

Religion in American Life explores the evolution, character, and dynamic of organized religion in America from 1500 to the present day. Written by distinguished historians of religion, these books weave together the varying stories that compose the religious fabric of the United States, from Puritanism to alternative religious practices. Primary source material coupled with handsome illustrations and lucid text make these books essential in any exploration of America's diverse nature. Each book includes a chronology, suggestions for further reading, and an index.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Tells the remarkable story of how a new religion was born, developed amid persecution and hardship, and became one of the world's fastest growing faiths... Gives great insight into Mormon beliefs and the elaborate organization of community life that is a hallmark of the faith."--The Christian Science Monitor

"A well-rounded treatment that not only presents readers with the facts but also deals with questions that naturally arise... While emphasizing the strengths of Mormonism, the book also looks carefully at some of the controversies that have surrounded it... A strong resource for libraries."--Booklist

"A rich and sympathetic portrayal of what for a time was America's most persecuted religious minority."--The Wall Street Journal

"An engaging and accessible overview ... An informative, sympathetic introduction to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. A major strength of this book is its graceful prose."--Religious Studies in Secondary Schools

"An admirable and objective history of the Mormon church... Invaluable for any reader wanting to learn something about the Mormon religion; even Mormon readers will find this book a very useful guide to their church's history."--VOYA

"A clear, concise, and unbiased account of Mormon history, especially as it relates to the issue of church and state. [The Bushmans] are honest about the number of disaffected Mormons and examine problems within Mormon history, such as the relationship with Native Americans.... Serious treatment of the subject at hand in a way that makes [it] attractive for popular reading by combining text, photographs and original documents."--Library Journal

Praise for the Religion in American Life series:

"This series, written in a style that would be accessible to bright high-schoolers, promises to be an excellent supplement to textbooks that too often downplay the central role religion has played in American history."--Library Journal

"[The] texts are concise..., engagingly written, and well illustrated.... Promises to be a lively and accessible read for anyone interested in the various human dramas that constitute America's religious journey. As religious diversity is now growing in the US, and some are concerned about what values will hold the country together, a series that explains Americans clearly to one another is something to be valued."--The Christian Science Monitor

"The Religion in American Life series meets a need as we strive to educate students beyond the ignorance and confusion that often breeds intolerance."--MultiCultural Review

Publishers Weekly
In 1999, the Bushmans published Mormons in America, a thoughtful little textbook that was part of Oxford's Religion in American Life series for the young adult market. If you missed that book, never fear: this brief paperback is a slightly edited version of the original YA title. Oxford should be congratulated for having the smarts to realize that adults need basic information about Mormon history, too, particularly in this Olympic month. Here, Claudia Bushman (Mormon Sisters: Women in Early Utah) and husband Richard Bushman (Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism), both historians at Columbia University, present a balanced, informative and brief introduction to one of the world's fastest-growing religious movements. Theirs is a grassroots approach to history; the Bushmans are more interested in the everyday experiences of ordinary Latter-day Saints than they are in the institutional growth of the church, its financial "empire" or its corporate bureaucracy all of which have been well documented elsewhere. They are not afraid to tackle some of the thorny issues of the Mormon past, such as polygamy, the Mountain Meadows Massacre or the early Mormons' feuds with the federal government. But they don't dwell unduly on these blemishes, preferring instead to focus on how Mormonism as a religion has changed over time, and how those changes have contributed to a shifting sense of what it means to be a Latter-day Saint. This user-friendly, perceptive and accessible primer is a welcome counterbalance to the highly specialized literature on Mormon history. (Feb.) Forecast: With a release date coinciding with the winter Olympics in Utah, this title should get off to a good start, but given the dearth of balanced, informative introductions to Mormonism, it is also poised to have a long shelf life as a favorite for course adoption. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Issues related to the history and current life of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are dealt with in a straightforward manner in this telling of the Mormon story. The Bushmans argue that the Mormon Church is a Christian denomination with beliefs generally congruent with those of other denominations. They examine polygamy, their church's relationship with non-Caucasians, and how controversies and differences are being resolved. They also explain the special scripture, beliefs and practices adopted by the group, the interest in family history and education, the basic equality accorded women, dietary laws, the church's organization, missionary and welfare enterprises, and its growth in the late 20th century and beyond. The authors say, "The aim of this book is to explain how Mormons feel about their religion and how they hold on to their faith in the modern era." They are clearly themselves enthusiastic, orthodox members of the faith who have researched the basic facts of the church's history and growth, and its place in the world today and present it all in an attractive, readable manner. Includes historical b/w photographs. Category: Social Studies. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1999, Oxford Univ. Press, 122p. illus. bibliog. index, $9.95. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Edna M. Boardman; Minot, ND SOURCE: KLIATT, March 2002 (Vol. 36, No. 2)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195150223
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/28/2001
  • Series: Religion in American Life Series
  • Pages: 152
  • Product dimensions: 8.25 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface ix
Chapter 1 Joseph Smith's First Visions, 1820-30 1
Chapter 2 Zion, 1831-37 14
Chapter 3 Nauvoo, 1838-46 25
Chapter 4 The Westward Trek, 1846-69 37
Chapter 5 Building the Kingdom, 1847-69 47
Chapter 6 Mormon Women, 1831-90 59
Chapter 7 Mormons in the Nation, 1890-1945 75
Chapter 8 The Church Since 1945 88
Chronology 104
Further Reading 110
Index 117
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