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"But crime has its own momentum. Once begun, its perpetrators find it hard to draw back, if only to hide what has already taken place."
- Walker, Turley, Leonard; Massacre at Mountain Meadows
This is the second book about Moutain Meadows Massacre I've read. The first was the seminal work by Juanita Brooks The Mountain Meadows Massacre in 2016. Brooks' book was published in 1950. This one was published in 2008 (so, 58 years later) by Ronald Walker (a Mormon historian in SLC), Richard E. Turley (at the time Assistant Church Historian, but now Managing Director of LDS Public Affairs), and Glen M. Leonard (former director of the LDS Museum of Church History and Art).
The amount of access to church archives and history has changed considerably between the 1950s and the 2008. The Church recognizes that it can't spin, hide, or dissemble (too much). So, the authors of this book were given access to a lot of information that might have been useful to Juanita Brooks. It is interesting to note that while Juanita Brooks was never formally disciplined, she WAS blackballed from Church publications when writing her work. Turley, on the otherhand, got a promotion. So, somethings have changed.
The book's narrative is clean and it introduced several facts that showed exactly how actively and passively members of the LDS community bore huge responsiblity for this action. Brigham Young, George Albert Smith, Isaac Haight, William Dame, and obviously John D. Lee, all shoulder huge aspects of responsibilty. This is something that could have easily NOT happened if more people were willing to stand up, refuse, or question leadership OR if leaders hadn't used such paranoid, angry, and inciteful rhetoric. There is plenty of blame to go around with this.
Overall, this was a balanced and responsible work. I'm excited (excited is the wrong word) to read Will Bagley's history. I know that Bagley's account places even more responsibilty on Brigham Young's shoulders.
Full disclosure: John D. Lee was married to my foruth great-grandmother, my fifth great-grandmother, and my foruth great-aunt.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
Was the mountain meadows massacre an attack led by Mormons, on innocent immigrants? Yes, but to accurately judge a historic event like this you really need to examine surrounding events that led up to this point. The authors are not (as other reviewers have mentioned) 'trying to make the Mormon church look good', they are trying to give you an accurate window into the lives of Mormons at that point in history. By doing this, the authors help us gain better understanding and insight into what the Mormon people might have been thinking and feeling at the time and WHY this tragic event happened. The authors of this book did an excellent job. If you read the preface you will find that they were aware of their potential biases and they explain the steps they took to give the reader an accurate and unbiased account of what happened. They included information from as many primary sources as were available. This is a very well researched book and if you have a physical copy of the book, you can see that about 1/3 to 1/4 of the book are pages dedicated to citing their sources.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Would you try another book written by the authors or narrated by Bill Dewees?
What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?
it's from the history of the LDS.
Could you see Massacre at Mountain Meadows being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?
Yes that would be great.
Any additional comments?
Try: Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows