Secrets and Wives: The Hidden World of Mormon Polygamy [NOOK Book]

Overview


What do we really know about modern practicing polygamists—not fictional ones like the Henrickson family on HBO’s Big Love? We’ve seen the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the news, the underage brides in pioneer dresses on a Texas ranch. But the FLDS is just one of many groups that have broken with mainstream Mormonism to follow those parts of Joseph Smith’s doctrine disavowed by the LDS Church.

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Secrets and Wives: The Hidden World of Mormon Polygamy

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Overview


What do we really know about modern practicing polygamists—not fictional ones like the Henrickson family on HBO’s Big Love? We’ve seen the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the news, the underage brides in pioneer dresses on a Texas ranch. But the FLDS is just one of many groups that have broken with mainstream Mormonism to follow those parts of Joseph Smith’s doctrine disavowed by the LDS Church.

Gaining unprecedented access to these communities, journalist Sanjiv Bhattacharya reveals a shadow country teeming with small town messiahs, dark secrets, and stories both heartbreaking and strange. Polygamy’s dark side—incest, forced marriages, and physical abuse—is laid bare. But Bhattacharya also finds warmth in the fundamentalist diaspora and even finds himself taking an ideological stand for polygamy’s legalization.

More than just an expose of Mormon polygamy, Secrets and Wives is the personal journey of a foreign atheist and liberal, a stranger in a strange land who grapples with hard questions about marriage, monogamy, and the very nature of faith.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Veteran journalist Bhattacharya builds upon his Marie Claire article and Chanel 4 documentary, The Man With 80 Wives, to arrive at a book-length investigation of polygamy that is as much about this fringe community as it is about Bhattacharya's efforts to get them to talk to him. From his telling beginning, a quote from Bob Dylan, Bhattacharya is amusingly off and running, and readers will want to follow his punchy magazine-trained voice wherever it may lead; "dating is verboten in Centennial Park. Only God decides who hooks up with whom." His access into polygamist compounds is impressive, and the subjects that accept him into their home are given ample room to make the case for or against the practice. Ultimately the author finds polygamists to admire, polygamists who are amusing "nutjobs," and polygamists who are utterly terrifying. He inserts himself into the narrative from page one, often voicing the skepticism he expects of most readers ("I believe that the title of this book has already pissed off several million people."). As the story unfolds, focus shifts more inward, and Bhattacharya examines his own spirituality in a move that feels less like a tangent than his obvious, if unexpected, destination.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher
Praise for Secrets and Wives

"Many of us recognize the stock images of polygamy: the child brides from isolated compounds, like the Yearning for Zion ranch, and the suburban homemakers on television, yearning for their husbands. In Secrets and Wives: The Secret World of Mormon Polygamy, British journalist Sanjiv Bhattacharya pushes past these caricatures to show what Mormon polygamists are really like." —Slate

"Though fundamentalist Mormon polygamy is portrayed in a benign light on TV (e.g., Big Love), the reality is for the most part much grimmer . . . This is a riveting read for both Bhattacharya’s wry and heartfelt style and the nature of the material." —LIbrary Journal

Praise for The Man with 80 Wives

“Sanjiv Bhattacharya, a likable reporter who smoothed over rebuffs (there were many) with charm, tracked [Warren Jeff’s] trail of destruction from Canada to Texas . . . Sanjiv seemed worried Warren might kill himself and his followers. He is, as I said, a nice young man.” —The Guardian (U.K.)

“A compelling portrait of a sex-obsessed, racist false prophet . . . [Sanjiv] has a nice manner for a documentary TV interrogator . . . slightly bumbling, ingenuous, soft-spoken, wide-eyed, innately self-critical.” —The Sunday Herald (Scotland)

Library Journal
Though fundamentalist Mormon polygamy is portrayed in a benign light on TV (e.g., Big Love), the reality is for the most part much grimmer. Journalist Bhattacharya investigated several Mormon sects who practice "the principle" (not allowed in the Latter-day Saints church) and interviewed dozens of current and past members to get both sides of the story. It's not a pretty one. Clearly, he is more sympathetic to those who oppose polygamy; understandably because in many cases physical and sexual abuse, underage marriage, and incest are rampant. Some groups also display cultlike membership control methods and persecute members who have left. Interestingly, the author comes down on the side of legalizing polygamy, arguing that legalization would make it easier to prosecute abusers and open the practice to more "sunlight." VERDICT As at a car wreck, readers may be drawn to look but nauseated by what they see. Nevertheless, this is a riveting read for both Bhattacharya's wry and heartfelt style and the nature of the material. In a few places he has his facts wrong, but these are fairly minor. This journalistic account is appropriate for general and more serious readers with an interest in the subject.—David Azzolina, Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib., Philadelphia
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593765743
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/1/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Revised Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 404,506
  • File size: 775 KB

Meet the Author


Sanjiv Bhattacharya has written for Details, Los Angeles Times Magazine, and Maxim. He has appeared as an expert on polygamy, discussing his Channel Four documentary, The Man with 80 Wives, on MSNBC Live, Montel Williams, and elsewhere. He lives in Connecticut.
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Table of Contents

Preface ix

1 Dropping In for Coffee 1

2 The Campaigners 13

3 Mormon Polygamy-The First Century 37

4 When the Saints Come Marching Out 53

5 Centennial Park 65

6 Texas 2008 111

7 To Be a God 121

8 Legalize It 131

9 The Order 141

10 The True and Living Church 257

11 Death by Rumor 301

12 Christopher Nemelka 307

13 The Rock 333

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 9 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 12, 2011

    Best Piece on The Subject So Far!

    Sanjiv has put together the most comprehensive and honest piece on Utah's Mormon Fundamentalist culture yet. Previously, great books have been done by ex members on their specific stories of escape, but Secrets and Wives gives you a realistic view of all the major players. Sanjiv shows the influence that these groups already have on Utah politics and the resulting "Blind Eye" that Utah officials turn on Mormon Fundamentalist criminals. Even though the book covers a very dark and serious subject Sanjiv will have you laughing with his well timed sense of humor.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 13, 2011

    Very Interesting and Informative

    This book digs into the personal lives of a number of polygamist families and sects. Mr Battacharya was able to meet with them, spend time with them, and get to know both current and former members personally, and compile all that information into a single book.

    It is a must read for everyone.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2011

    Grew up in polygamy and loved this book!!!

    I absolutely loved this book! Mr Bhattacharya's style was truthful, his insight profound and witty at the same time. I come from six generations of polygamy on both sides of my family and Mr. Bhattacharya's book is the first one I've read (and I've read many) that even comes close to the mind and mentality of that culture. Although compassionate and kind, he sees through the facade. He sees the stress fractures brought on by the lifestyle and belief system. Truth be told, I was trying to read 'Love Times Three,' which is so sanitized, when I found 'Secrets and Wives.' If you really want to get a more balanced idea of what really goes on in polygamy, read this book! Mr. Bhattacharya writes what I have wanted to write for years but lack the courage. Thank you, thank you Mr. Bhattacharya.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2011

    Spot on Sanjiv!

    Finally... there is a good explanation of Mormon polygamy for the layperson. Like all authors, Sanjiv brings a bias to his book. However, unlike the estranged former wives, jilted "Lost Boys" and mainstream LDS apologists, Sanjiv brings the bias of a skeptical everyman without the typical media sensationalism. It seems to be an honest attempt to understand and explain a subject shrouded in deceit... not an easy task. Many of the fundamentalists and mainstream LDS will no doubt find fault with his methods and his humor not to mention his conclusions. Sanjiv's wit and irreverence regarding his historical narrative is reminiscent of Parker and Stone's SOUTH PARK episode "All About Mormons". You'll hear "dum..dum...dum.....dum" in your head as you read part of this book. CAUTION: This is no casual read, as parts will bring a grown man, who otherwise circulates ice water, to tears. Anger, frustration, mirth, pity, sympathy and helplessness are a few emotional responses which can be expected when reading this book; especially, by those who have been touched by "The Principle" in some way. ---A [Jack] Mormon Doctor in Texas

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2012

    Interesting

    Gives reader an inside view of polygamy, from an outsiders opinion vs books written from former members of the sect.

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  • Posted July 27, 2012

    Interesting read

    I enjoyed this book because it told me a lot about the religion. I found it to be fascinating. I did think that the author was bias against their religion so I am not sure how accurate an account it is.

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    Posted August 13, 2011

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    Posted November 22, 2011

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    Posted May 24, 2012

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