The best books about Mormons

1 authors have picked their favorite books about Mormons and why they recommend each book.

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No Man Knows My History

By Fawn M. Brodie,

Book cover of No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith

“Brodie saw the fraud at the heart of Mormonism,” according to Larry McMurtry, and she described it with style and panache – at considerable personal cost. Her uncle, a future Church president, denounced her and participated in her ex-communication.

Who am I?

In 2012, a publisher asked me if I wanted to write a book about Joseph Smith's assassination. I leapt at the chance, in part because I was fascinated by Smith and the Latter-day Saints, and in part because I appreciated how many of the important contributions to Mormon history --- including Fawn Brodie’s famous biography of Joseph Smith, or the first honest and comprehensive account of the Mountain Meadows Massacre -- sprang from the pens of women and men with no formal academic training. By contrast, many “scholars” have disgraced themselves with prevaricating or pusillanimous accounts of the religion’s raucous and fascinating 190-year history. So jump in! Never a dull moment with the Latter-day Saints! 


I wrote...

American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church

By Alex Beam,

Book cover of American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church

What is my book about?

American Crucifixion is the definitive, readable account of the last days of Joseph Smith, Prophet, Seer, Revelator, and founder of the Mormon Church. All of Mormon history flows from Smith’s brutal assassination in June, 1844 --  The harrowing cross-country trek to the Great Salt Lake; the rise of Brigham Young; and the embrace of polygamy, the system of “plural marriage” (one husband, many wives) that haunts the church even today.

Carthage Conspiracy

By Dallin H. Oaks, Marvin S. Hill,

Book cover of Carthage Conspiracy: The Trial of the Accused Assassins of Joseph Smith

Not only is this book fascinating, but it is also utterly honest, and honesty is in short supply in Mormon history-telling. Oaks is a politically conservative and culturally controversial member of the Mormon church’s ruling triumvirate, which in no way detracts from this masterpiece.

Who am I?

In 2012, a publisher asked me if I wanted to write a book about Joseph Smith's assassination. I leapt at the chance, in part because I was fascinated by Smith and the Latter-day Saints, and in part because I appreciated how many of the important contributions to Mormon history --- including Fawn Brodie’s famous biography of Joseph Smith, or the first honest and comprehensive account of the Mountain Meadows Massacre -- sprang from the pens of women and men with no formal academic training. By contrast, many “scholars” have disgraced themselves with prevaricating or pusillanimous accounts of the religion’s raucous and fascinating 190-year history. So jump in! Never a dull moment with the Latter-day Saints! 


I wrote...

American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church

By Alex Beam,

Book cover of American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church

What is my book about?

American Crucifixion is the definitive, readable account of the last days of Joseph Smith, Prophet, Seer, Revelator, and founder of the Mormon Church. All of Mormon history flows from Smith’s brutal assassination in June, 1844 --  The harrowing cross-country trek to the Great Salt Lake; the rise of Brigham Young; and the embrace of polygamy, the system of “plural marriage” (one husband, many wives) that haunts the church even today.

Brigham Young

By John G. Turner,

Book cover of Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet

You hear a lot about John C. Fremont and Kit Carson, but square mile for square mile, Brigham Young is the man who built the American West. He dispatched Latter-day Saints to settle the following states, either wholly or in part: Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Idaho, Nevada, Colorado, Wyoming, and Oregon.


Who am I?

In 2012, a publisher asked me if I wanted to write a book about Joseph Smith's assassination. I leapt at the chance, in part because I was fascinated by Smith and the Latter-day Saints, and in part because I appreciated how many of the important contributions to Mormon history --- including Fawn Brodie’s famous biography of Joseph Smith, or the first honest and comprehensive account of the Mountain Meadows Massacre -- sprang from the pens of women and men with no formal academic training. By contrast, many “scholars” have disgraced themselves with prevaricating or pusillanimous accounts of the religion’s raucous and fascinating 190-year history. So jump in! Never a dull moment with the Latter-day Saints! 


I wrote...

American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church

By Alex Beam,

Book cover of American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church

What is my book about?

American Crucifixion is the definitive, readable account of the last days of Joseph Smith, Prophet, Seer, Revelator, and founder of the Mormon Church. All of Mormon history flows from Smith’s brutal assassination in June, 1844 --  The harrowing cross-country trek to the Great Salt Lake; the rise of Brigham Young; and the embrace of polygamy, the system of “plural marriage” (one husband, many wives) that haunts the church even today.

In Sacred Loneliness

By Todd Compton,

Book cover of In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith

These heart-wrenching biographies of 33 of Joseph Smith’s wives were the first, in-depth exploration of the social and emotional costs of Mormon polygamy. Loneliness appeared in 1997. The church waited until November 2014, six months after the publication of American Crucifixion, to officially acknowledge that Joseph had up to 40 wives.


Who am I?

In 2012, a publisher asked me if I wanted to write a book about Joseph Smith's assassination. I leapt at the chance, in part because I was fascinated by Smith and the Latter-day Saints, and in part because I appreciated how many of the important contributions to Mormon history --- including Fawn Brodie’s famous biography of Joseph Smith, or the first honest and comprehensive account of the Mountain Meadows Massacre -- sprang from the pens of women and men with no formal academic training. By contrast, many “scholars” have disgraced themselves with prevaricating or pusillanimous accounts of the religion’s raucous and fascinating 190-year history. So jump in! Never a dull moment with the Latter-day Saints! 


I wrote...

American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church

By Alex Beam,

Book cover of American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church

What is my book about?

American Crucifixion is the definitive, readable account of the last days of Joseph Smith, Prophet, Seer, Revelator, and founder of the Mormon Church. All of Mormon history flows from Smith’s brutal assassination in June, 1844 --  The harrowing cross-country trek to the Great Salt Lake; the rise of Brigham Young; and the embrace of polygamy, the system of “plural marriage” (one husband, many wives) that haunts the church even today.

Riders of the Purple Sage

By Zane Grey,

Book cover of Riders of the Purple Sage

Here is a great classic taking us back in time to southern Utah and the early ranches and Mormon settlements. I love Grey’s perspective on the history of this region. Here, horses are king, and those that ride them are their worshippers. Hero Lassiter falls in love with the lovely, independent ranch owner, Jane Withersteen, who is being stalked by wife-hunting Mormons. But the most compelling part for me is Vetner’s (a second male protagonist) discovery of the hidden redoubt he names Surprise Valley, a forgotten home of ancient cliff dwellers, and described by Grey with all the amygdala-rousing prose at his command. An aura of the supernatural is permanently suspended over this hidden place, and it becomes the centerpiece of the remainder of the novel. That is the stuff I enjoy.


Who am I?

I am, and always have been, stimulated by a spiritual connection to my world beyond the laws of physics and men. My hiking, climbing, and trail running have taken me to breathless places imbued with auras and presences I don’t understand but readily accept. And I am filled with the same spirituality when performing or listening to music. I have no ego to shun that which I don’t understand, for I know there is so much beyond me. Some authors describe this intangible better than others in their stories; I hope I am among the former.


I wrote...

The Other

By R. Lawson Gamble,

Book cover of The Other

What is my book about?

They are an unlikely investigative team—an eastern, white FBI agent and a half-breed Navajo Hunting Guide. Agent Zack Tolliver somehow manages to survive his first year in Navajo Nation, a place too hot, too harsh, and too hostile for most of his colleagues. When a young girl’s ravaged body is found dumped on a desolate butte, surrounded by bear tracks, tracks that eventually turn into those of a man, Zack will need all the skill and cultural insights offered by his friend, mentor, and colleague Eagle Feather to solve the case. When the impossible is all that remains, it is all that is possible.

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