To the Rescue: The Biography of Thomas S. Monson (Hardcover)
“The sweetest experience in mortality is to know that our Heavenly Father has worked through us,” says President Thomas S. Monson, sixteenth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But he does more than say it — he lives it. Throughout his life, he has been an instrument in the Lord's hands, one through whom the work of the kingdom of God is lovingly carried out.
President Monson cares about people by the millions; he has traveled the earth to bless countless lives in unnumbered lands. He may be known best, though, for caring about people one by one. He takes time for those who may have been mostly forgotten by others. He recognizes the person in the crowd who might need the extra bit of attention he can provide. He goes where the Spirit leads him — even if it means traversing continents to offer a priesthood blessing to a suffering friend.
To the Rescue chronicles the life and ministry of this extraordinary leader. It is filled with the heartwarming personal accounts so typical of President Monson — some that have become favorites over time and many others that have not been told before. Readers will be transported to his childhood, where he learned his first lessons about reaching out to others. They will glimpse his school experiences, his hobbies (especially his prize Birmingham roller pigeons), his military service in the navy, and his courtship with Frances Johnson, who would become his eternal companion and greatest support.
Most important, readers will observe Thomas S. Monson going “to the rescue” in his more than six decades of devoted Church service. Called as a bishop at age twenty-two, as a counselor in a stake presidency at age twenty-seven, as a mission president at age thirty-one, and as a member of a Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at age thirty-six, he became early on a skilled administrator and a tireless servant of the Lord. He oversaw the work of the Church in East Germany for more than twenty years, beginning with hushed meetings held in automobiles to avoid listening devices and culminating in the dedication of a temple behind the Iron Curtain. He played key roles in landmark programs in the Church, from correlation to welfare to the publication of the LDS editions of the scriptures. And through it all, he recognized people as individuals and ministered to their need in personal ways.
“I testify that each one of us can feel the Lord's inspiration as we live worthily and strive to serve Him,” President Monson has taught. To the Rescue demonstrates the truth of that teaching, illustrating its power in the life of one remarkable man.
Table of Contents
Introduction: To the Rescue
1. A Heritage of Faithful Souls
2. Between the Railroad Tracks
3. "I Want To Be a Cowboy!"
4. Like Huck Finn on the River
5. Becoming a Gentleman
6. School Days
7. The Greatest Lessons
8. Starting a Family
9. "Decisions Determine Destiny"
10. Always a Bishop
11. "He Went About Doing Good
12. "Have Courage, My Boy"
13. "O Canada"
14. Called to General Church Committees
15. A Special Witness
16. Serving in the Twelve
17. "He Was Everywhere
18. Near and Far
19. "Weary Not"
20. Faith of the People
21. The Wall Comes Down
22. The Work Goes Forward
23. Poised for Growth
24. Opening Doors
25. Neighbor Helping Neighbor
26. There Are No Coincidences
27. Ordained in Heaven
28. "Loyal, Helpful, Friendly ..."
29. An Indomitable Spirit
30. The Consummate Counselor
31. Reaching Out to the One
32. Joy in the Journey
- Size: 6" x 9"
- Pages: 608
- Published: 2010
- Run Time: Approx. 19 hrs.
About the Author
Heidi S. Swinton is an award-winning author and screenwriter whose works include the PBS documentaries American Prophet; Sacred Stone; Sweetwater Rescue; Trail of Hope; and America’s Choir. She has served on the Relief Society general board and as a member of Church writing committees. She is the author of President Thomas S. Monson’s biography, To the Rescue. She served with her husband, Jeffrey C. Swinton, as he presided over the England London South Mission (2006–2009); they are the parents of five sons, four living, and have four daughters-in-law and six grandchildren.
He is more Christlike than the rest of us. He’s known for emphasizing and elevating things that are most important, the ordinary things. He is the one for whom the widow and the orphan are not just statements in a book.
-President Boyd K. Packer
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
It was a rainy, lackluster Sunday, December 2, 1979, when a gregarious Apostle of God with his long and purposeful stride entered the dreary Dresden hospital in the German Democratic Republic. The moment was quintessential Thomas S. Monson. Following a prompting, he had flown more than 5,200 miles and crossed behind the Iron Curtain at Checkpoint Charlie for one purpose—to give Inge Burkhardt a blessing.
Inge had been in the hospital nine weeks with complications from gall-bladder surgery that developed into pneumonia and a string of other ailments. The doctors recommended a second surgery—of questionable efficacy—in an operating room that had no heat and archaic equipment. When Elder Monson heard of her plight, he got on a plane. Without any prior planning, yet bidden by the Spirit and by his love for the Burkhardts, he traveled across the globe to minister to a single soul.
“We joined our faith and our prayers in providing her a blessing,” Elder Monson recorded in his journal. The scene as he departed the hospital grounds will always stay with him. “When looking upward we saw Sister Burkhardt from her bedroom window waving farewell to us.”1
Looking upward is what Thomas S. Monson does best. He often quotes the verse:
But chief of all Thy wondrous works,
Supreme of all Thy plan,
Thou hast put an upward -reach
Into the heart of man.2
The Burkhardts were trapped, as were thousands of other Latter-day Saints, in a country overrun with guards and guns. The government officials allowed religious worship, but anyone participating was suspect. Henry Burkhardt, president of the Dresden Mission for ten years, was singled out by the Communist government as the Church’s representative in the land. It was hardly an honor. He did not advance at work; his children were denied educational opportunities; he and Inge were watched all the time.
Ask Henry to recall the single most significant experience he had with Elder Monson during the two decades when the bold young Apostle supervised and visited East Germany, and the tears come quickly. Henry will bypass the meeting he attended with the nation’s supreme leader, Erich Honecker, when President Monson asked for and received approval for missionaries to serve in East Germany, then known as the German Democratic Republic—though that day was deserving of front-page news. He will not point to the serene morning on the hill overlooking the Elbe River when Elder Monson blessed the land “for the advancement of the work” of the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel and made seemingly impossible promises to the Saints held hostage by a totalitarian government. Nor will he describe the many meetings held in rattletrap cars parked on gloomy streets to avoid the ever-present listening devices as a small huddle of men learned from an Apostle how to move the Church forward in a godless land.
No. What stands out in Henry’s mind is that day at the hospital when Elder Monson came just to bless Inge. It was a rescue mission.
While in the country, Elder Monson agreed to an impromptu meeting with the active priesthood leaders in the area; on short notice, thirty-seven of the thirty-nine attended. They met in the Leipzig “chapel,” the men bundled in tattered clothing because the furnace had long since quit working. But there was “no lack of warmth in the hearts of the members,” Elder Monson noted. “They had their scriptures with them, sang with gusto, and reflected a spirit of devotion to the gospel.”3
And then he flew home.
Such is the ministry of the man—Thomas S. Monson, sixteenth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, prophet, seer, and revelator.
Jesus Christ, in His ministry at the meridian of time, “went about doing good, . . . for God was with him.”4 He blessed the sick, restored sight to the blind, made the deaf to hear, and caused the halt and maimed to walk. He taught forgiveness by forgiving, compassion by being compassionate, devotion by giving of Himself, and love of His Father in Heaven by loving others—one at a time.
In like manner, Thomas S. Monson has spent his life going about doing good. He has lifted, encouraged, listened, counseled, and shared personal experiences, always for one single purpose—to encourage faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ called His disciples to follow Him and become “fishers of men.” His disciples today have the same charge. President Monson’s most productive “fishing hole” can be likened to the pool of Bethesda, where “a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered” in New Testament times went for healing—to be “made whole.”5 He understands from whence such healing comes: “Let us remember that it was not the waters of Bethesda’s pool which healed the impotent man. Rather, his blessing came through the touch of the Master’s hand.”6
For a long time—a lifetime—Thomas S. Monson has gone to those waiting by the “pool,” those draped in despair, disappointment, infirmities, pain, and even sin, and joined his faith with theirs that they might be made whole.
The man healed by Jesus Christ at the pool of Bethesda was seemingly obscure. No one reverenced his presence or found greater stature being by his side. But the Savior went right to him.7 So it is with President Monson. He too goes to the weary and often forsaken, lays hands on their heads, and, in his singularly recognizable voice, provides inspired counsel. “I firmly believe,” he has said many times, “that the sweetest experience in mortality is to know that our Heavenly Father has worked through us to accomplish an objective in the life of another person”—to help make someone whole.8
“Reach out to rescue . . . the aged, the widowed, the sick, the handicapped, the less active,” he has said, and then he has led the charge. “Extend to them the hand that helps and the heart that knows compassion.”9
When he went to East Germany, he was connecting Inge Burkhardt to the “whole” church and the faith and prayers of its people.
When he chaired the Scriptures Publication Committee, he spent ten years helping put in place greater access to the Lord’s words with new study aids that would make members more “whole” in their understanding of the Lord Jesus Christ.
When he sat by his wife’s bed in the hospital for seventeen days as she lay in a coma, he beseeched the Lord to intervene. The doctors tried to prepare him for the possibility that she
would never wake up. He simply waited on the Lord, knowing his prayer of faith would be answered. She awoke; she had been healed.
When he appears at the funeral of one of his scores of friends and associates—such as Robert H. Hodgen, the carpenter who built his chicken coop and remodeled the family cabin at Vivian Park—he is showing gratitude for service that is known to only a few but is nonetheless a valued contribution.
When he is asked how he finds time to do such things, given the burdens of his ministry, he responds, “I am a very simple man. I just do what the Lord tells me to do.”10
Following his sustaining at the solemn assembly during the 178th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Monson stood before the membership of the Church, thirteen million strong, and encouraged the “less active, the offended, the critical, the transgressor” to come back. He pleaded, “To those who are wounded in spirit or who are struggling and fearful, we say, Let us lift you and cheer you and calm your fears.”11 Come, and be made whole.
For President Monson, being made “whole” does not mean being fixed, repaired, or made good as new. Wholeness is much more than that; it is a description of a life on earth filled with the Spirit of God and one in the eternities in the presence of the Father. He wants nothing less for all of God’s children: “I plead with you to turn to our Heavenly Father in faith. He will lift you and guide you. He will not always take your afflictions from you, but He will comfort and lead you with love through whatever storm you face.”12
His self-proclaimed optimism is clearly evident to everyone who knows him or even makes his acquaintance. He starts his first meeting of the day with “Top of the morning,” he whistles in the middle of the afternoon, and he advocates with true sincerity finding “joy in the journey” at every turn. Earlier in his ministry he could attend personally to those in need; the pressures and demands of his prophetic office now require that he enlist the help of many others.
For President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church, “It is a marvelous thing to be close to the prophet on a daily basis, to sit with him every day and feel of his closeness to the Lord. Always there is something going on and always a need for the First Presidency to act upon things, both spiritual and temporal, as the prophet leads the way.”13
“Bethesda” in the Bible Dictionary is described as “house of mercy or house of grace.” There could be no better description of President Monson’s presence—wherever he is. Some of those to whom he ministers look put together on the outside but cry out for help from within their very souls. He hears them. He has continually offered the promise of peace, hope, and comfort in spite of challenges and grief, some seemingly insurmountable. He quotes often the promise of Jesus Christ: “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”14 He loves that verse, for it speaks of how, through the power of the Atonement, we are made whole.
Like the Israelites’ tabernacle of old, his “pool” of healing and love is portable. President Monson takes it with him wherever he goes: to Inge in East Germany, to a troop of scrappy Scouts camping out in a muddy field, to a small village in Tonga or Peru, to the bedside of the sick or dying, and to the marriage of loved ones in the holy temples of God. Indeed, his ministry is best expressed by his attention to the healing of souls.
To him, needs are both programmatic (that’s where the welfare plan steps in) and personal (that’s where he steps in). Many have described him as “the bishop” of the Church. He has been and always will be a champion of the Church’s remarkable welfare program, which has addressed people’s needs for more than half a century. But beyond relying upon programs, he steps in personally to assist those who struggle with testimony, suffer illness, grieve the loss of someone close, or make up “the long line of the lonely.”15 The list is endless but ever present on his mind and in his heart. When he is prompted, he goes—to the rescue.
His life is a witness of the importance of following personal inspiration: “When you honor a prompting and then stand back a pace, you realize that the Lord gave you the prompting. It makes me feel good that the Lord even knows who I am and knows me well enough to know that if He has an errand to be run and prompts me to run the errand, the errand will get done.”16 Put simply, he does not gauge where or what or how. “I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord” is what President Monson is always about.17 He always has been.
And his wife, Frances, has always been right at his side. Her commitment to his calling has equaled his. She is reserved in her manner, knowing that what she says, does, and puts her hand to will reflect on the calling that her husband bears. Her way of honoring the responsibility to them both is to be his support, any way she can, and to bear testimony of the divinity of Jesus Christ to Saints in many nations.
In tribute to her, he has said, “I could not have asked for a more loyal, loving, and understanding companion.”18
When President Monson has spoken of “the miraculous strength” and “mighty power”19 of wives and mothers in the home, he has had his sweet companion as his model. She has traveled with him when she could while caring for their young family, been ever ready to go at a moment’s notice when he had people to visit across town, waited
good-naturedly while he gave one blessing after another until the quick stop at the hospital turned to hours, and she has never complained. They have seldom sat together during a Church service; she has packed his bag for every trip he’s taken; she has fixed his breakfast every day, even if it meant being up at 4:30 A.M. so he could be off for a “fishing” trip.
Called as an Apostle in 1963 by President David O. McKay when the Church was emerging as a worldwide denomination, Elder Monson traveled to every continent while balancing a load of significant committee assignments; he chaired them all. There were weekly stake conferences while he was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and, later, when he joined the First Presidency, regional conferences. He has attended innumerable groundbreakings and temple dedications, and conducted countless mission tours.
The sheer logistics have not been easy. He has weathered lightning storms encircling his aircraft, delays on the ground and in the air, flight cancellations, lost baggage, eight-hour bus rides in the jungle to make it to meetings, and yet he has arrived—with the Spirit—ready to teach and preach to the members.
A fellow Apostle, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, described his longtime friend as “a mighty man of Israel who was foreordained to preside over this Church.” In tribute he continued, “While it is a compliment to him that many of the great and mighty of this world know and honor him, perhaps it is an even greater tribute that many of the lowly call him friend.”20
One of his good friends was Everett Bird. They had chickens in common: Rhode Island Reds, to be exact. Everett kept Elder Monson’s chickens in his coop and was proud to show them off because of their owner. Elder Monson said of his chicken keeper: “I am daily impressed that the majority of the good people in the world do not receive any accolades or any publicity but live good lives within a small circle and one day will merit eternal reward.”21
President Monson truly loves people. He is profoundly loyal to friends and associates. He relates to everyone—everywhere—
and many through the years have been surprised and pleased to find that he still remembered them. One particular Sunday, when giving a blessing to his friend Don Balmforth from the old
Sixth-Seventh Ward, he encouraged him, “Remember, Don, your influence has been felt on me. Wherever I go, you go. Wherever I speak, you speak. Wherever I serve, you serve.” That same Sunday Elder Monson traveled across town to give a blessing to Louis McDonald in a nursing home, and he went later to his own brother Bob’s home to give another. His summation: “All in all, a busy day.”22
That’s why his challenge—“to the rescue”—has such resonance and integrity. He has been there.
“His personality is this buoyant, outgoing, hail-fellow-well-met,” explains Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. “He’s larger than life. He fills that entire six-foot-three frame with enthusiasm. Nevertheless, when recalling an incident in his life or referring to the illness
of a General Authority or remembering the passing of a grandchild of one of his schoolmates, he will weep on the spot—instantly. His eyes betray him. He will get red rims around his eyes the minute he talks about something spiritual and something personal.”23
As an administrator, “he’s not fast to judgment, not quick to fire out of the starting blocks,” explains Elder Robert D. Hales. “He wants dialogue. He wants it from his counselors and from members of the Quorum. It’s quite remarkable. He takes it all in and then he’ll pray about it. Don’t expect him to give an opinion and have it immediately adopted. He likes to say that he measures twice before he cuts once, but he measures five or six times before he cuts.”24
Elder Ronald Rasband, Senior President of the Seventy, recalls the friendly hour-long exchange he had with President Monson on the plane returning from the temple dedication in Sacramento. “He is so conversant in regular affairs of life from basketball to Scouting to baseball to fishing to what’s happening in town and the barbershop. He has knowledge of the life of the regular person. He loves to talk about it and he makes you feel totally comfortable in any of those settings.”25
President Monson was not born to worldly wealth, but in his home the spirit of love abounded. There is no question that he was prepared in his youth for service that may have belied his age but never his ability. He has always been a leader, from his first assignment as secretary in the deacons quorum to the prophetic mantle he carries today. Those who were in his teachers quorum when he was the president can attest that he has never given up on them and did finally get them to the temple. Experience has taught him: “The mantle of leadership is not the cloak of comfort but rather the robe of responsibility.”26
This is a man who has never left his moorings. His childhood memories reveal much more than simply his growing up. They speak of the security of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins; of the examples of righteous, hardworking parents; and of a Church environment that fostered faith and testimony. Born and bred in a neighborhood with the train whistles blaring and transients knocking at the door, he learned and exercised love for the Lord, concern for the elderly, compassion for the needy, loyalty, hard work, and a profound commitment to duty.
Though he has kept a daily journal since his call to the Twelve in October 1963, he is not linear; date, time, and place are simply the backdrop for him to see the manifestation of the hand of God. On those voluminous pages are recorded his priorities. He writes little about meetings and much about people. He is as comfortable with those who clean the building as he is with ambassadors of nations. Each has equal importance to him. When he speaks of his experiences, he is prompting the listeners to look at their own lives, to look for the Lord sending rescuers in the little things: the visit of a friend, the note, the much-needed affectionate handshake.
A day in March 1995 is a good example. Elder Russell M. Nelson brought Bruce D. Porter, a BYU professor, and his wife, Susan, to President Monson’s office for an informal visit. (Just weeks later Brother Porter was called as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy.) However, that story began not in the office at 47 East South Temple but in Germany in 1972, when young Elder Porter, a mission secretary, was assigned to help Elder Monson, who was organizing the Düsseldorf Stake from the Ruhr District in the Germany Central Mission. Elder Porter spent three priceless days in the company of Elder Monson as driver, translator, organizer of schedules, recorder, and general ombudsman. Elder Porter did not expect President Monson to remember him—twenty-three years later. But, before Elder Porter could extend his hand in greeting, President Monson bounded across his office with open arms and said, “Düsseldorf!”27
President Monson was called as a bishop at just twenty-two years of age in the ward where he grew up. In fact, he and Frances have been members of that same ward and only one other their whole married life. He presided over the Sixth-Seventh Ward of the Temple View Stake, a ward with more than 1,080 members, 85 of them widows. There is no question that those years significantly shaped his perspective and prowess in Church leadership. He had in his care the needy, aged, ill, fatherless, and forgotten who were waiting at the “pool.” He found them everywhere he visited. In his five years as bishop he learned his lessons well: listen to the Spirit, act on promptings, and do what the Lord would have you do.
“You develop an appreciation that Heavenly Father knows who you are and He says, ‘Here, go do this for me,’” he has explained. “I always thank Him. My only regret is that I don’t have more time to do the many things we are called upon to do. I work hard. I work long. I hope I work effectively, but I never feel I have exhausted what I should be doing.”28
At age twenty-seven he was called into the stake presidency; at thirty-one, as a mission president in Canada; and at thirty-six, as an Apostle called of God. “The Lord selected him by His hand to be the prophet,” states Elder L. Tom Perry, who has worked with him in the Twelve since 1974, “and he was well prepared for it and well trained for the time that he was needed there to build our Father in Heaven’s kingdom.”29
His inimitable speaking style has endeared him to millions as he has opened the doctrines and principles of the gospel through personal experiences. Embedded in each one are lessons of life and measures of virtue and character. He draws in his listeners with accounts from his own life or the experiences of people close to him and then leaves application of the principle to them.
To President Monson, “pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”30 He speaks it; he lives it. He expects others to do the same. “Our happiness is completely and utterly intertwined with other people: family, friends, neighbors, and the woman who you hardly notice who cleans your office.”31
Like the Savior, he champions the widows. The 85 in the Sixth-Seventh Ward were not a number to him. They were noble souls whose station in life was easily transcended by their place in God’s eyes. This is a man who sits down in nursing homes and explains the game of football to the women staring at the screen. In the process, he may have missed a meeting, but he “harvested a memory.” When he talks with those who seem unresponsive, he enjoys the one-sided conversation, feeling that indeed he has “communed with God.”32
“He truly is devoted to the rescue of others,” President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, has observed. “I thought I knew how he remembers everybody and how he reaches out to the most obscure person. But, it’s more than I ever dreamed. I am a better person every day I work with him. I care about others and think about others more than I ever did before. He has had that amazing effect on me.”33
“The prayers of people,” President Monson has taught, “are almost always answered by the actions of others.”34 That’s why his visit to Dresden was much more than a quick flight to see a dear friend. It was a reiteration that the Lord God will visit His people “in their affliction.” In this case he took the “pool” behind the Iron Curtain.
For nearly five decades he has offered “living water” to those so desperately in need. Church members from Tahiti to Germany have watched him, followed him, and been taught by him with words that speak spirit-to-spirit:
“All can walk where Jesus walked when, with His words on our lips, His spirit in our hearts, and His teachings in our lives, we journey through mortality. I would hope that we would walk as he walked with confidence in the future, with an abiding faith in His Father, and with a genuine love for others.”35
"To the Rescue" is best book I ever read!
by Susan - reviewed on February 25, 2011
"To the Rescue" is such an inspirational book! Throughout his life, President Monson has always reached out to the one, giving his time freely. He listens to the promptings he receives from the Holy Ghost to find those who need him, and then he acts. What a wonderful example he has set for all of us. I will strive harder to follow in his footsteps. President Monson's biography is the best book I have ever read.
by Jane - reviewed on April 16, 2011
What a wonderful biography, I learned so many things about our dear prophet. He was instrumental in so many things I didn't know about before reading this book. The most beautiful thing I gained from this book apart from a stronger testimony of Heavenly father's Prophet and a stronger desire to follow his wonderful example is that I now feel I know the prophet as my friend!! Well done Heidi Swinton a remarkable biography.
by Joyce - reviewed on March 10, 2011
I just finished reading this marvelous biography of our prophet. It reaffirmed my testimony that President Monson a true and living prophet here on this earth. It is a perfect instruction manual on how to be a true disciple of our Savior Jesus Christ. President Monson sets a wonderful example for each of us about how to have true Christlike love for one another. It was great to learn so much about our amazing prophet.
A true Disciple and Prophet of God.
by Remy - reviewed on February 09, 2013
An excellent read, what you get from this book about Thomas S. Monson is his love for everyone and his concern for the one. His life is one dedicated to following the example of Jesus Christ. After reading it you have a greater desire to follow his example and be a better, more dedicated disciple of Jesus Christ. Reading this book only furthered my testimony that Thomas S. Monson is truly the Lord's Chosen Prophet on the earth today.
by Steve - reviewed on October 25, 2011
I was delighted to learn more about the life of our Prophet. His influence in different areas of the Church throughout his years of service is really inspiring and astonishing. This is an interesting, enjoyable and uplifting read. I highly recommend it!
on my third reading and still cannot put it down!
by Guy - reviewed on November 03, 2010
This is one of the best books ever written about our great prophets. So much applicable to our lives each day!
by Scott - reviewed on March 18, 2012
The overwhelming majority of the book consists of ambiguous praise of Pres. Monson. Please do not mistake me; I admire and sustain him, but this author ceaselessly sings his praises without giving any meaningful insight into his life. The book is also full of awkward transitions, empty quotes and irrelevant anecdotes. For example, the author describes, at length, a time when he shot and made two baskets while visiting a Church gym and includes a copy of his third grade report card, to make sure you're impressed. Yet, the book leaves you frustrated and wondering at questions that would actually provide insight; questions like- Why didn't he serve a mission after his extremely short time in the military? Why was his father inactive? How has he come to be financially successful with so little time in the professional world? Etc. For such an expensive book, one would hope to find more than exaggerated praise and rehash of his talks, yet that is all this book contains. Pres. Monson asked the author to write the book, but reading it left me frustrated and wondering why he would provide her a constructive monopoly on something that should be free for all members, and why he would permit so much shameless praise to be published. For me, the book raised far more questions than it answered.
This was a great witness of a prophet
by James - reviewed on December 11, 2010
I just finished reading To the Rescue and it was a great witness of a true Prophet of God.
This book reminded me to love others others
by Jodi - reviewed on September 28, 2010
I have been anticipating the opportunity to read this book. I was not disappointed. Upon reading only the first few chapters I found myself looking at others around me and wondering how can I be of help to them? I was looking at others with new eyes. I quickly found myself doing as President Monson would as I stopped and talked with my neighbor, a widow, today. I thoroughly enjoyed our visit. I learned so much from reading about the humble and wise leaders of President Monson's youth that taught through their example how to be a loving leader. I particularly loved reading the poem written by his father at his birth. It is clear poetry was a part of his life from the beginning. I enjoyed reading of his boyhood visits to Vivian Park, the ballpark and his yearning for a pet. I was interested that his first calling was to be the Secretary of the Deacons Quorum. My son holds that same calling now. I hope he feels the same about his responsibility as President Monson did. Heidi Swinton's writing is beautiful, insightful and inspired me, through President Monson's life experiences, to be a better person who cares for those around me - perhaps a bit more than I did before. Heidi Swinton is a memory weaver. The product of her work, this biography, is a wonderful opportunity for all to learn more about this ebullient prophet with a "big heart."
by Jeanette - reviewed on January 23, 2011
I read this book in a few days it was difficult to put down. I feel like that anybody in a leadership position should read it. Reminds you to focus on the individual and not on programs. Jen Katene New Zealand
A prophet from his beginning
by Jack - reviewed on January 18, 2011
Having served in the Canadian Mission just prior to President Monson, I was very impressed with the Author's quotes about the mission. HOWEVER Before printing more books I wish to save Pres. "Eagle eye" Monson's reputation. On page showing the mission home the address is incorrect. That home is on 133 Lynhurst Ave. The Toronto Chapel is on Ossington.
Life Changing Experience!
by Keith - reviewed on June 26, 2011
Outside of the scriptures, this is the best book that has ever been written or sold. My wife and I spent time each night reading this book together. We have been having numerous challenges in life this year and this book helped us to grow in faith, to grow in testimony and to grow closer together during this time. If you want to improve your relationships, improve your testimony or just improve your overall life, this is certainly the book to read. I strongly encourage all couples and individuals to read this amazing and inspiring book.
This book helps us to become more loving.
by Customer - reviewed on January 22, 2012
It was wonderful reading about a man that is loved by so many. By following his example, we can become more loving ourselves. This book shows many small steps we can take to become more Christlike. President Monson truly is a prophet of God
Inspiring Stories from the Life of President Monson
by Cindi - reviewed on May 16, 2012
Utah Dad and I recently finished reading To The Rescue : The Biography of Thomas S. Monson by Heidi Swinton. We've spent the last few months reading a chapter together at least once a week. It is always entertaining to read the stories of the charismatic and fun-loving President Monson (president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Many of the stories were ones we had heard before in his talks and I was frequently reminded of his personal speaking style. He has always been the quintessential story teller. We were most enthralled with the stories of his childhood and also the chapters that go into depth about the growth of the church in East Germany throughout the decades before the fall of the wall. President Monson's role in that growth is inspiring. It is clear to see that he is an instrument in the hands of God. Many of the stories of President Monson's call to follow inspiration and touch the individual person moved me to tears. He is truly an inspired man and my testimony of him as a prophet of God grew as we read more about his amazing life. Utah Dad and I have joked over the years that President Monson is the "angel of death". If he suddenly shows up to visit you, watch out, your time is limited. So many of his stories involve following the spirit to the bedside of a dying friend or stranger and then of speaking at funerals. But what a touching, tender mercy of the Lord to send his servant to comfort many of those in their final hours. Really, President Monson is so close to the spirit that he knows just where he is most needed. Heidi Swinton is a good story teller in her own right and has written a very approachable, readable book. This book is not a scholarly explanation. There are questions left unanswered (such as why his father was not active in the church) and it does not go deep into the emotions and feelings of President Monson. What it does do is include many of President Monson's stories in one volume and give a lovely over view of his history. It is also encouraging and motivating. President Monson exemplifies a Christ-like life. He cares about people. He is in tune with the spirit and follows it so that he can touch people just when they need it most.