Conflict between matters of faith and historical truth has been a conundrum at the heart of doing and telling the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the Mormon Church). Some of the best essays on that topic were written by Leonard J. Arrington, perhaps the best-known member of the group of professionals who founded the New Mormon History of the late twentieth century. Now, Arrington’s essay on history and the Mormons are collected in a single source work.
Arrington rose to prominence during the so-called “flowering of Mormon history.” In a precedent-breaking move, he was made Church Historian in January 1972, the first professional historian to serve in the position.
His ideas, as expressed in the essays collected here, helped to determine how Mormon history was written during the last part of the twentieth century. Arrington sought a middle way between the extremes of defending or attacking faith claimstwo forces that drove most nineteenth-century and even much twentieth-century writing on the Mormons. He not only adopted a neutral stance in his writing as LDS Historian, his name became connected inseparably with the New Mormon History because of his personality and the quality of his work.
The fourteen essays offered here are autobiographical, reflective, analytical, personal, and prophetic. Together, they constitute an illuminating study of the challenges faced by all who study history and face the conflicts its telling involves.
Supplementing the essays are a biographical sketch by historian Ronald W. Walker, a chronology of Arrington’s life, and a detailed bibliography of his published works and speeches, prepared by David J. Whitaker. A personal tribute to Arrington is given by his daughter, historian Susan Arrington Madsen.
The book has a bibliography and index. It is bound in rust linen cloth, has a foil stamped spine and a full-color dust jacket.