Is John Turner's Brigham Young Biography Better than Broadway's The Book of Mormon? Pre-Pub Reviewers Think So!

by Edward J. Blum

Lots of wonderful pre-publication reviews of John Turner's Brigham Young biography: here's a sampling:
  • "A scholarly yet thoroughly readable historical/biographical study, of considerable interest to students of 19th-century American history and religious revivalism." (Kirkus Reviews)
  • "Turner's broad historical perspective clarifies why Young's ecclesiastical successors have still felt the man's influence--even after abandoning polygamy. An impressively detailed portrait of a controversial giant." --Bryce Christensen (Booklist (starred review)
  • "Previous biographers of Brigham Young have used epithets such as "American Moses" and "Lion of the Lord." However, what Turner demonstrates here is that the three-dimensional Young cannot be reduced to saint or tyrant; he was bold, brave, crude, petty, visionary, manipulative, creative, charismatic, kindly, and much more besides. He presents Young as a family man navigating the complexities of polygamy, as a leader moving large numbers of people across the Great Plains, and as a politician negotiating enough independence for the Mormons from the American government that he could build the kingdom of God as he saw fit. Turner was given unprecedented access to the LDS church archives and he makes full use of them and other sources, as well as providing a cogent interpretive context. It is easy to forget Young's significance in American history, but at a minimum it needs to be remembered that he is responsible for settling a vast swath of the West. Turner gives him his due...There aren't enough superlatives for this book. It will remain the standard biography for a long time. Because of its thorough documentation, academics will take it seriously, while general readers will appreciate its clarity of prose and argument." --D. S. Azzolina (Library Journal (starred review)
  • "A definitive biography of Mormonism's greatest activist and apostle" --Adam Gopnik (New Yorker )
  • "Turner teaches us not just about Brigham Young, but also about American society in the nineteenth century" (Edward J. Blum, Christian Century, not out yet)
  • "Simply put, Turner's treatment of Young's life is a landmark in Mormon biography." ( customer review)


Christopher said…
Excellent. I'm excited to read the finished version of the book. Congrats to John.

We'll be publishing a forum of reviews focusing on 4 or 5 different areas of the book over at in the coming months.
Paul Harvey said…
From the review at the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

"Responding to all the notoriety that surrounded him and his people, Young once mused 'Well, we are a curiosity, ain't we?' When finished with this superb biography, readers will find him less of a curiosity but still fascinating."

Is it too much to hope for a New York Times Sunday Book Review? Pretty please? Look at the 2 ridiculous books featured in the Book Review cover page today, and I dare you to suggest why these lousy but inconsequential books should be reviewed as supposed to a book like John's here or others that one can think of.
Alex Burgess said…
My copy arrived from Amazon today, earlier than I thought it would. I'm already enjoying it. Well done, John!

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