Leonard Arrington, author of Great Basin Kingdom, a book many saw as the most important history of Mormonism, became the principal driver of a dramatic turn towards scholarly truth in the study of Mormon history. His approach gained a temporary foothold in the governing bureaucracy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he became its church historian. That productive period of professional scholarship from inside the LDS Church ended with a controversial closing of the History Division, which had brought too much candor for some church leaders. Arrington and his colleagues had lit a spark, though, that would continue to energize Mormon historiography. The many scholars whom he mentored, encouraged, supported, and collaborated with helped maintain the growth of a newly enriched field of research and publication, bringing the historical record that had always been an essential aspect of Mormon identity into wide examination and discourse.
Gregory Prince follows his well-regarded biography of LDS President David O. McKay with the story of another key figure in the modern history of Mormonism. Leonard Arrington, a gregarious and generous history entrepreneur, used his success to advance the careers of many others and played a key role in the intellectual development of Mormonism by broadening Mormons’ understanding of themselves. Employing Arrington’s massive personal record and dozens of interviews with his associates, Prince provides the most complete account yet of the remarkable successes and failures of this longtime face of Mormon history.
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