Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet

by John G. Turner

Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet

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Brigham Young was a rough-hewn craftsman from New York whose impoverished and obscure life was electrified by the Mormon faith. He trudged around the United States and England to gain converts for Mormonism, spoke in spiritual tongues, married more than fifty women, and eventually transformed a barren desert into his vision of the Kingdom of God. While previous accounts of his life have been distorted by hagiography or polemical exposé, John Turner provides a fully realized portrait of a colossal figure in American religion, politics, and westward expansion.

After the 1844 murder of Mormon founder Joseph Smith, Young gathered those Latter-day Saints who would follow him and led them over the Rocky Mountains. In Utah, he styled himself after the patriarchs, judges, and prophets of ancient Israel. As charismatic as he was autocratic, he was viewed by his followers as an indispensable protector and by his opponents as a theocratic, treasonous heretic.

Under his fiery tutelage, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints defended plural marriage, restricted the place of African Americans within the church, fought the U.S. Army in 1857, and obstructed federal efforts to prosecute perpetrators of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. At the same time, Young’s tenacity and faith brought tens of thousands of Mormons to the American West, imbued their everyday lives with sacred purpose, and sustained his church against adversity. Turner reveals the complexity of this spiritual prophet, whose commitment made a deep imprint on his church and the American Mountain West.

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For me this book was an edifying experience.
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

Really intriguing book. For me this book was an edifying experience. I couldn't put down the book in the week and a half that I read it. I agree that it is similar in ways to Joseph Smith: Rough Stone rolling. Personally I enjoy seeing this side of the prophets, with their ups and downs. It shows how the Lord uses us in our weaknesses as mortals to bring to pass greater and more eternal things. I loved the book. For those who enjoy Church history it is a must.

Great way to learn early church history!
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

This objective, warts-and-all look at Brigham Young strikes a good balance: I felt like at the end I had a clearer picture of this very complicated man. I am grateful to Deseret Book for making this challenging volume available- I would compare it to Rough Stone Rolling. If you are looking for something faith promoting, you'd probably best keep looking.

About the Author

John G. Turner

John G. Turner is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at George Mason University.

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