Who Are the Mormons?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

  • Has over 12.5 million members worldwide and is one of the fastest-growing and most centrally controlled U.S.-based religions
  • Is by far the richest religion in the United States per capita, with $25 to $30 billion in estimated assets and $5 to $6 billion more in estimated ...
See more details below
Mormon America - Rev. Ed.

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
BN.com price


Who Are the Mormons?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

  • Has over 12.5 million members worldwide and is one of the fastest-growing and most centrally controlled U.S.-based religions
  • Is by far the richest religion in the United States per capita, with $25 to $30 billion in estimated assets and $5 to $6 billion more in estimated annual income
  • Boasts such influential members as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and presidential candidate Mitt Romney
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This definitive introduction to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) for most non-Mormons will also be essential reading for Mormons who are interested in something other than an "all is well" analysis of their church. The authors, a husband-and-wife team, are both religion reporters. Unlike earlier journalistic accounts of the LDS church--such as Robert Mullen's Latter-Day Saints: The Mormons Yesterday and Today (o.p.), Wallace Turner's Mormon Establishment (o.p.), Robert Gottleib's America's Saints (1986. reprint.), and John Heinerman and Anson Shupe's The Mormon Corporate Empire (o.p.)--this work gives much more play to doctrinal concerns in its comprehensive treatment. The Ostlings look at the history, beliefs, and economic, social/cultural, and religious practices of the LDS, and they don't shy away from any of the controversies facing the contemporary church, such as issues of academic freedom at church-owned Brigham Young University and the church's wealth. Highly recommended for all libraries.--David S. Azzolina, Univ. of Pennsylvania Libs., Philadelphia Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Michael Freedman
In Mormon America, the Ostlings reveal how the church operates much like a corporation, with a centralized authority structure, a public-relations campaign, and a willingness to put pressure on those who criticize from within. "Such discipline of rank-and-file members in other churches is virtually unknown," the Ostlings write.

The writers also include Frank discussions of church history and theology, including the emphasis on family, community, and missionary work. But according to the Ostlings, the church's self-told history contains troubling inconsistencies. The late church leader Brigham Young had more than 20 wives, for instance, yet official church documents characterize him as a monogamist.
Brill's Content

Kirkus Reviews
A thoroughly-researched, impartial treatment of that homegrown American religion so shrouded in mystery and myth: Mormonism. The Latter-Say Saints have been the subjects of a number of illuminating scholarly works, from Jan Shipps's Mormonism to D. Michael Quinn's The Mormon Hierarchy, but until now there has been no book of the same caliber for the general audience. An outgrowth of Richard Ostling and S.C. Gwynne's 1997 Time magazine cover story, Mormon America is an accessible, even-handed treatment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), which, according to sociologist Rodney Stark, will number well over 63 million faithful by 2080. Not themselves Mormons, the Ostlings bring a newcomer's curiosity and a healthy respect for the LDS to their project. After a brief summary of the history of Mormonism, which was born in the late 1820s, the Ostlings investigate a number of hot-button issues, from polygamy (officially banned, but still practiced by a few renegade "Mormon fundamentalists," who are excommunicated if church authorities discover their marital practices) to money ("If the LDS Church were a U.S. corporation, by revenues it would rank number 243 on the Fortune 500 list"), from LDS politicos (including presidential hopeful Orrin Hatch) to the Mormon doctrine of God (which is at odds with orthodox Christian teaching in matters such as deification, the LDS belief that a person can become a God). Mormon America deals with many topics that Americans have heard of but don't understand, explaining what Mormons mean when they talk about being "eternally sealed" in marriage, evaluating the Latter-Day Saints' famed system of tithing and welfare, explicating therelationship between Mormon ritual and Masonic rites, and investigating the special undergarments that some Mormons wear. For Protestants and other "Gentiles," Mormon America is an invaluable primer; Latter-Day Saints will find the book a useful refresher course. (8 pages b&w photos)
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061749803
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/13/2009
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 504
  • Sales rank: 904,932
  • File size: 757 KB

Meet the Author

Richard N. Ostling, a religion writer for the Associated Press, was formerly senior correspondent for Time magazine, where he wrote twenty-three cover stories and was the religion writer for many years. He has also covered religion for the CBS Radio Network and the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS-TV.

Joan K. Ostling, a freelance writer and editor, was formerly a writer and editor for the U.S. Information Agency in Washington, D.C., a reporter for the Press Publications newspaper chain in Chicago, and an English and journalism professor.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Mormon America - Revised and Updated Edition

The Power and the Promise
By Richard Ostling

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Richard Ostling
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061432958

Chapter One

Sealed With Blood

Nauvoo, Illinois, today sits at a picturesque bend in the Mississippi River, a tourist attraction and state historical park with visitor centers operated by competing churches at opposite ends of the restored town. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) owns the imposing brick Heber C. Kimball house and the Masonic lodge. The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS) owns Joseph Smith's grave and his two homes. Relations are polite. The visitor can take the LDS tour in a cart pulled by Amish-raised draft horses and admire the cornfields and soybeans, the rushing creek, the restored shops, and the old Masonic building. There is no sign of the once mosquito-infested malarial swamps, and neither church has restored any of the cramped wooden hovels in which most of the Saints actually lived during Nauvoo's brief moment of glory.

Today as one breakfasts at Grandpa John's Cafe in the backwater country town perched on the high bluff above the river, it is hard to believe that in its day--five years of growth and fame before it became a ghost town--Nauvoo rivaled Chicago. Nothing like this theocratic principality inthe heart of America had been seen since Pilgrim and Puritan days. Here the prophet Joseph Smith maintained a militia of 3,000 to 4,000 men under arms, at a time when the full U.S. Army had only 8,500 soldiers. At its height the population of Nauvoo proper reached 12,000 citizens; several thousand more Saints tilled the ground in nearby Hancock County or across the river in Iowa. These were frontier days, and the white limestone temple rising 160 feet high on the crest of the hill was an imposing sight for miles around.

Praise for Nauvoo's impressive achievements appeared in the newspapers of Boston, New York, and elsewhere. A steady stream of visitors came in 1843 and 1844 to admire the town, visit the strange exhibit of Egyptian mummies in its little museum, and sample Smith's hospitality. They included Charles Francis Adams, son of former president John Quincy Adams, and Josiah Quincy Jr., son of Harvard's president and later the mayor of Boston. Quincy was impressed with Smith's charisma and how he "won human hearts and shaped human lives." But Quincy also sounded a somewhat ominous cautionary note when he observed that Joseph Smith was far more than the entrepreneurial mayor of a successful, if unique, frontier town: "His influence, whether for good or for evil, is potent today, and the end is not yet."

That influence had begun in Palmyra, New York, fifteen years earlier with the translation of the golden plates that Smith testified had been lent him by the Angel Moroni. These latter-day scriptures described the migration of Israelites to the New World--where they became ancestors of Native Americans--and the risen Christ's ministry on American soil. Smith translated these writings into the Book of Mormon, a revelation that Mormons would place alongside the Bible. The influence continued as a band of six followers incorporated a new church and multiplied into a movement of thousands willing to follow their prophet anywhere. And it did not end when a mob left Joseph Smith's bullet-ridden body propped against a well outside the jail at Carthage, Illinois.

The assassination of their prophet left the Saints grief-stricken and dispirited. Nevertheless, as in Quincy's prediction that "the end is not yet," from that bloody atrocity there emerged the most successful faith ever born on American soil, a church regarded by some today as a major emerging world religion.

In the spring Of 1844 matters were spinning out of control for the prophet. He was charged as an accessory to attempted murder and faced an extradition warrant to Missouri, where a thug had pumped buckshot into the head of Governor Lilburn Boggs, who had cruelly mistreated the Saints. Amazingly, Boggs survived. It was rumored that the assailant, never caught, had operated at the behest of Smith. Despite vigorous denials by church officials, talk also abounded of something unthinkable--that the prophet and other top church officials were secretly taking multiple wives. Accusers also said Smith was profiting from land speculation over the miseries of poor Saints. Some of his closest colleagues were beginning to regard him as a fallen prophet.

Never passive, Smith responded with a frenzy of political activity. First he declared himself a candidate for president of the United States. Shortly thereafter he organized the secret Council of Fifty to plan an ambitious political future, and he had that body anoint him as "King, Priest and Ruler over Israel on Earth." He petitioned Congress for authorization to raise and lead a 100,000-man army, personally loyal and answerable only to him, that would subdue the western territories from Texas to Oregon. He proposed that anyone who would "attempt to hinder or molest the said Joseph Smith" in this design was to be liable to two years' imprisonment. Congress did not oblige.

In the midst of all this, Smith preached the most important sermon of his career. The doctrines he presented in this discourse--multiplicity of gods, eternal progression, a heavenly Father who had a body and used to be a man, denial that God created the cosmos "out of nothing"--departed radically from Christian orthodoxy.

Joseph Smith once said, "A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation." The Saints' readiness to sacrifice all things had already been well tested. Just five years earlier the Mormons had arrived in Illinois, fleeing east across Missouri up into Iowa and across the frozen Mississippi. Missouri's Governor Boggs had thrown them a threat: get out or face extermination. Joseph Smith was in jail in Liberty, Missouri, that winter of 1838-39, under threat of execution for a trumped-up charge of treason. His loyal...


Excerpted from Mormon America - Revised and Updated Edition by Richard Ostling Copyright © 2007 by Richard Ostling. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction: A New World Faith
1 Sealed with Blood 1
2 Beginnings: A Very American Gospel 20
3 The American Exodus 38
4 Polygamy Then and Now 56
5 Redefining the Kingdom of God 76
6 Almost Mainstream 94
7 Mormons, Inc. 113
8 Some Latter-day Stars 130
9 The Power Pyramid 147
10 Families Forever 159
11 A Peculiar People 173
12 Rituals Sacred and Secret 184
13 Two by Two 203
14 Saintly Indoctrination 220
15 Faithful History 238
16 The Gold Bible 259
17 Discovering "Plain and Precious Things" 278
18 "How God Came to Be God" 295
19 Are Mormons Christians? Are Non-Mormons Christians? 315
20 Rivals and Antagonists 334
21 Dissenters and Exiles 351
22 Mormonism in the Twenty-first Century 372
App. A Joseph Smith's King Follett Discourse 387
App. B How the Income and Wealth Estimates Were Made 395
Endnotes 401
For Further Reading 432
About the Authors 441
Index 443
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2008

    A reviewer

    I am a proud member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The author however is not, so how can you write about a religion that you know nothing about?!?!?! You can't!!! The author can not feel the same way that I feel about this gospel. The author can not know the truth about this gospel and explain it to others because he himself does not know. The author might have gotten quotes from members of the church, but the author did not take them into consideration when he was writing about the 'Mormon baptism' or Joseph Smith's 'golden books.' If someone wants to know about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I have a few suggestions for you. One, GO TO THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS. Two, TALK TO A MEMBER OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS. Three, READ THE BOOK OF MORMON AND FIND OUR FOR YOURSELF- that is the only way to really know about the church and the truth behind it. Do not take a non-member's word on a religion. Would you talk to a cashier of a gas station about your financial problems? I don't think so- you would talk to someone who works or does that. So talk to a MEMBER OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS- don't read this book!!!!!

    4 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 23, 2009

    Well researched, fair, technical

    Research is very good. Author has tried to be fair; many authors on this subject are not. Somewhat "dense" reading; many names, places, dates. Good for person researching the issue, somewhat slow reading for general interest readers as the specifics sometimes clog up the general gist of the book.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2012

    Response to "A reviewer"

    I am also a member, but I completely disagree wth everything you said. Yes they dont understand we feel so strongly for our faith but offering statistica is in no way against our religion. Also, if you are worried about people getting the wrong idea about the church, you juat gave them good reasons. Stop bashing on peopl for no reason, try bein decent. Its not that hard.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 16, 2008

    Great insight into 'The Church'...the Mormons in this case.

    I read this book and found it to be very intelligently written and researched. If you read the review written prior to this one, the author fails to realize that this book is highly sighted, mostly with information gathered from The Churches records. Had the previous review author actual read the book, he/she would have found the information to be correct and in line with what the author is trying to portray. I grant you that the author does supply some opinions that may be found by some to be inflammatory, but hopefully you can decide for yourself to accept or reject them.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2012

    Not really

    I'm a member of the LDS church. This book does not explain the churches history. The book tries to present itself as an unbiased source and its not.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)