Bad Guys of the Book of Mormon
by Dennis Gaunt
“I loved this book! I never thought that I'd like a gospel book, but this one was fun and actually written for young people. I read it in one sitting! I loved the humor ('Hello, Moroni. My name is Ammoron. You killed by brother. Prepare to die!') as well as the questions to ponder.” — Amy, age 15
“These bad guys have earned their place on the wall of the Zarahemla police station. I highly recommend it.” — John Bytheway, author of Righteous Warriors: Lessons from the War Chapters in the Book of Mormon
Your enemy is smart. You can be smarter.
Warning! This book contains information about a deadly enemy's top secret plans of world domination and total destruction. Your mission — should you choose to accept it — is to learn what the enemy is planning as well as what his weaknesses are so that you will be prepared to defeat him.
Gathered here are case studies of some of the enemy's top soldiers in his army — Laman and Lemuel, Korihor, King Noah, Amalickiah — as well as the strategies that allowed the Lord's righteous warriors — Nephi, Alma the Younger, Abinadi, Captain Moroni — to defeat them.
President Ezra Taft Benson said, “The Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ . . . . It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day.” By learning about the bad guys, by studying their traits, tricks, and tactics, we will be able to see clearly the plans and plots Satan used in Book of Mormon times. And because they are the same plans he is using today, we will have “insider information” on how to defeat him.
- Chapter 1: Whiners in the Wilderness
Laman and Lemuel
- Chapter 2: It May Be Spacious, but It Ain't That Great
Lessons from the Other Side of the River
- Chapter 3: "I Am So Smart!S-M-R-T!"
- Chapter 4: "Have a Great Summer!"
The "Yearbook" of Omni
- Chapter 5: Kings for a Day, Losers for Life
King Noah, Amulon, and the Wicked Priests
- Chapter 6: Popular Like Me
Nehor and Amlici
- Chapter 7: A Frenzied and Deranged Mind
- Chapter 8: "Is It in You?"
- Chapter 9: Throwdown with Captain Moroni
Zerahemnah, Amalickiah, and Ammoron
- Chapter 10: Stealth Fighters
Secret Combinations among the Nephites and the Jaredites
- Chapter 11: From Bad to Good
Alma and the Sons of Mosiah, Amulek, Zeezrom, and Corianton Notes
Reviewed by Beth Roach for the Association for Mormon Letters
I was intrigued and interested by the title of Dennis Gaunt's book, "Bad Guys of the Book of Mormon," but frankly, I was surprised at how much trouble I had starting the book. The tone is friendly, knowledgeable, and with vocabulary that is modern and funny that teenagers and older readers can relate to, with insightful and enlightening commentary and frequent quotes from current General Authorities. My hurdle with starting the book was this: every time I wanted to read the book, I found that my teenagers had carried it off to their rooms. The author has been a seminary teacher and has an obvious love of the scriptures and for the youth. His great sense of humor comes out in the descriptions and commentary which quickly hooks the reader into looking at the scenes and people of the Book of Mormon in a fresh new way.
If you were on a championship sports team and you were given the play book from the team that was your biggest rival and greatest threat to help you prepare for competition, would you read it so you could know how they will be coming at you or would you toss it aside? The author explains the Book of Mormon to be just like that. In it, we find the shortcut version that explains how Satan uses the same methods and arguments now to deceive and confuse and pacify that he used centuries ago. The author quotes extensively from General Authorities and auxiliary leaders, including the last six prophets, most of the apostles who have served in the last 30 years, Elaine Dalton, Julie B. Beck, and many others, as the star coaches on our side to teach us how to counteract the tricks that Satan is trying on us. Their quotes target specific ways to deal with various situations we encounter. Each chapter ends with "Lessons Not Learned," which summarize the main points of the chapter in just a few catchy sentences and "Lessons to Learn," offering several questions to reflect on and some suggested activities like reading certain hymns or writing responses to questions in a journal.
Gaunt walks us through each scene, giving an analysis of each bad guy and his motivations and flaws. Starting with probably the best known ones, Laman and Lemuel, we go through the whole trip in the wilderness with the whiners making excuses and take another look at the people in the great and spacious building from the Tree of Life vision. He examines people that I had never considered to be in the bad guy group, like Omni, whom he describes as a reluctant follower, doing things because he is commanded to and grudgingly at that.
Gaunt acknowledges that we don't know much about the authors of the shortest book in the Book of Mormon and maybe they aren't in the same category as Laman and Lemuel, but sees the _ã–there is not much room on the plates, so I didn't write much_ã� as a built-in excuse for procrastination. He compares it to the plates we have been handed, referring to our time everyday, which is definitely limited. What do we choose to fill our plates with? Do we make excuses about what we spend our time on by saying, _ã–Well, there isn't enough room in my day to'read'pray'help others'go to church'or (fill in the blank)? I had to stop and take a look at what I am filling the limited space on my _ã–plates_ã� with; is it really all that important or am I justifying my choices?
The girls and women don't get a pass here either. The author looks at them as well, especially the wicked Jaredite princess who encourages the secret combinations which led to her family falling apart and the destruction of her entire society. Some of the most insightful chapters for me involved the bad guys fighting Captain Moroni, especially the sneaky and despicable Amalickiah who posed as Lehonti's ally while he was carefully plotting his destruction and then took over the Lamanite kingdom through deceit.I would highly recommend this book to any teenager or young adult and anyone who counsels, teaches, advises or parents them or some mature preteens with a basic familiarity with Book of Mormon people and strong reading. You can read it to laugh, you can read it to learn, but you will probably end up doing both.
By Jacinda, Submitted on 2015-02-25
As an avid reader and book lover, this book is just great. But as a parent of children, the book is more than great – it’s fantastic!
For my oldest daughter  it seemed she had one epiphany after another while reading – never mind the family home evenings and morning devotionals she has been a part of for as many years lol. As a parent it was wonderful to have the book ‘stolen’ from me and enjoyed so much by her. It reinforced principles already taught and gave a clear understanding to its reader. She re-read these stories from scripture to capture the new perspective and is always eager to share this new found knowledge.
The ways in which humor and gospel truth have been woven together show a master’s touch that can reach to young and old alike. It’s a fresh perspective never truly approached before and doesn’t fail to make its impact on gospel understanding.
This book is destined to be re-read and re-read as each younger sibling begins to question as our oldest did – I just have to first get it to the book shelf, instead of finding it under her pillow, again. Love it!
By Seanette, Submitted on 2015-02-25
This was definitely worth the reading time (will be re-reading repeatedly, I'm sure) and purchase price. Very informative book showing us where those guys we consider bad guys went off-course and how to learn from their mistakes without having to make those mistakes in turn. Also very entertaining read, with a very nice balance between humor and serious teaching. Looking forward to this author's next book, whatever it may be. ;)
By Heather, Submitted on 2015-02-25
I had a conversation once with another Book of Mormon novelist about characterizing the infamously “wicked” King Noah. The other author thought he was wicked through and through, with no redeeming value. Perhaps that was the case toward the end of his life, although we cannot truly know the deep motivations or potential of another. I considered the “why’s” and “how’s” of King Noah and his evil court. What had led him through the series of events that culminated in sentencing a true prophet of the Lord to a fiery death? (See Mosiah 17.)
Did King Noah have a lousy childhood while his father, King Zeniff, was busy running a nation and his mother attended to her vast queenly duties? Perhaps Noah was mistreated by a nanny who raised him; or perhaps he was the brunt of schoolyard jokes . . . Was he uncoordinated? Did he have a hard time making real friends? Was he a lousy hunter?
Whatever drove Noah to spiral down the path of greed, selfishness, and eventual destruction, one thing is clear: we can learn from his choices. They were certainly subtle in the beginning. Maybe he stopped saying his prayers, he chose the wrong friends, or he let his pride swell exponentially as he prepped to become the heir to the throne.
This same sentiment is echoed by author Dennis Gaunt in his non-fiction book, Bad Guys of the Book of Mormon. Reading about the villains of the scripture can teach us how to avoid the same pitfalls.
Gaunt makes an excellent case for learning the enemies’ strategy in the ever-escalating spiritual war—a war in which two sides are battling for our souls. If we want to win, we must think like a military leader. A successful military leader studies every move his enemy is making. Gaunt suggests that we plan our own counter-attack by educating ourselves on the “bad guys in the Book of Mormon. Let’s learn to be smarter than they are. Let’s learn their tactics. See what tricks they used. Peek at their maps and plans. Pinpoint their lies. Point out the holes in their arguments. Let’s see how faithful people just like you and me resisted and defeated them in the past. Let’s be ready to face the bad guys of today” (8).
I couldn’t agree more. I echo Gaunt’s petition that we must stay proactive, we must stay diligent, and we must stay educated and aware of the adversary’s power, so that, we can “rejoice and exult in the hope” of Christ (Alma 28:12).
I highly recommend this book to adults and youth alike. Gaunt is witty, humorous and insightful, sharing personal experiences in a highly readable and entertaining way.
By Danyelle, Submitted on 2015-02-25
Dennis Gaunt has a fun writing personality. I love how he dived into the lives of the Bad Guys. He shares neat insights - things I never even considered - and makes it all so interesting. This is definitely not a dry gospel book. Be prepared to laugh one minute, then sit back the next and ponder how a certain statement effects your life. How you can be a hero and defeat the evil forces tempting you.
This book is written for teens and young adults - who I am positive will LOVE it. But no way can they have all the fun and knowledge! Adults - college students, moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas - y'all need to read this one! It's absolutely unique and one to definitely add to your gospel library.