Massacre at Mountain Meadows

by Glen M. Leonard, Richard E. Turley, Jr., Ronald W. Walker


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On September 11, 1857, a band of Mormon militia, under a flag of truce, lured unarmed members of a party of emigrants from their fortified encampment and, with their Paiute allies, killed them. More than 120 men, women, and children perished in the slaughter. Massacre at Mountain Meadows offers the most thoroughly researched account of the massacre ever written. Drawn from documents previously not available to scholars and a careful re-reading of traditional sources, this gripping narrative offers fascinating new insight into why Mormons settlers in isolated southern Utah deceived the emigrant party with a promise of safety and then killed the adults and all but seventeen of the youngest children.

The book sheds light on factors contributing to the tragic event, including the war hysteria that overcame the Mormons after President James Buchanan dispatched federal troops to Utah Territory to put down a supposed rebellion, the suspicion and conflicts that polarized the perpetrators and victims, and the reminders of attacks on Mormons in earlier settlements in Missouri and Illinois. It also analyzes the influence of Brigham Young's rhetoric and military strategy during the infamous "Utah War" and the role of local Mormon militia leaders in enticing Paiute Indians to join in the attack.

Throughout the book, the authors paint finely drawn portraits of the key players in the drama, their backgrounds, personalities, and roles in the unfolding story of misunderstanding, misinformation, indecision, and personal vendettas. The Mountain Meadows Massacre stands as one of the darkest events in Mormon history. Neither a whitewash nor an expose, Massacre at Mountain Meadows provides the clearest and most accurate account of a key event in American religious history.

About the Authors

Glen M. Leonard

Glen M. Leonard, director of the Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City, graduated from the University of Utah with a Ph.D. in history and American Studies. Formerly the managing editor of the Utah Historical Quarterly, he has published award-winning articles on Utah history and has taught classes at BYU and USU. His previous books include The Story of the Latter-day Saints (co-authored with James B. Allen) and A History of Davis County. He lives in Farmington, Utah.

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Richard E. Turley, Jr.

Richard E. Turley, Jr., Assistant Church Historian and Recorder for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is a member of the editorial board of the Church Historian's Press, which publishes The Joseph Smith Papers and other highly-acclaimed works of Church history. He is the author or co-author of several books, including How We Got the Book of Mormon and How We Got the Doctrine and Covenants, with William W. Slaughter; Massacre at Mountain Meadows, with Ronald W. Walker and Glen M. Leonard; Stories from the Life of Joseph Smith, with Lael Littke; and Victims: The LDS Church and the Mark Hofmann Case. In addition, he is the coeditor of the series Women of Faith in the Latter Days, with Brittany A. Chapman, and general editor of the print volumes of The Journals of George Q. Cannon. He and his wife, Shirley, live in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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Ronald W. Walker

No biography available

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Average rating:

(based upon 12 reviews)

A Great Researched Book On a V ery Misunderstood Event In Mormon History!!!
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

In this new, more complete and accurate telling of a most misunderstood time in Mormon History, we get to get inside the researchers/authors heads to understand how this most horrific tragedy occurred and why. The authors take us back to the early days of The Church, when we were persecuted for our beliefs and driven from their homes, women even raped. In the mid 19th Century, times were rough on the trail for the Mormons, having to contend with Indians, the elements, disease, the Military and all they could think of was getting to the Salt Lake Valley. This horrible tragedy took the lives of 120 men, women and children as they were gunned down execution style. For the Mormon people, they were afraid for their lives when emigrants came through their setlements on their way to California. These emigrants would taunt and threaten the Mormons and were worried about the soldiers coming to stir up things. It wasn't until I was reading the names of the Militiamen, that I found that two of my ancestors were involved. Luckily, they were not involved in any of the murders. This is the third book on this subject and feel this current rendition is the best by far, as it doesn't try to sugarcoat what happened or point fingers. If you haven't heard of this tragedy, I would recommend you read this book. It's a riveting story, one you couldn't imagine happening. It's interesting that the date this occured was 9/11, but in 1857.

Very Comprehensive
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

A wonderful new look at this dark event in our LDS history. So much research and time has gone into this book, making it the most accurate account of Mountain Meadows.

wonderful story about a sad event
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

I think the history of what happened at Mountain Meadows was very well thought out and very unbiased. I was so happy to read the whole story.

By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

Loved the book and it provided a great perspective of a dark time in Mormon and US history. Definitely a must have for any home library!

An essential Account of a terrible tragedy
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

I watched a BYU Broadcasting Special featuring the 3 authors. In it they commented on the importance of understanding the Massacre on an emotional level and not just an intellectual level. Even before reading the winding up moments of the event I felt drained and angry, almost in disbelief at what was taking place. The Authors have succeeding in writing in such a graphic and truthful way that the reader is forced to look inside themselves, and ask "What would I have done?" Terrible in its honesty, but masterful in its ability to invite us to ponder our own human nature, Massacre at Mountain Meadows succeeds on every level.

By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

This is an important part of our history that we all need to know about.

Outstanding Book
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

This is a fascinating book which details the events leading up to and the actual massacre. The historians have taken great effort to retell the event as it actually happened. Well researched, well written, and very unbiased account of this tragic event.

Well written and documented research
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

I found myself reading the footnotes as well as the text to gain a fuller appreciation of this tragedy. Knowing one of the three authors and one of the numerous researchers, and having discussed this work with them, and also having personally verified many of the footnotes, I'm convinced this book will stand as the definitive work on the subject. Kudos to all involved.

Massacre at Mountain Meadows
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

When I realized what day this occurred on, I didn't think twice about how hard Satan is working to demolish the Lord chosen people. It occurred on September 11th.

I am with the other person who wrote a review and am very impressed how this book was written. I too thought some of the other books were one sided, but this book is the most accurate from anything else I have read on this subject.

It paints an accurate view
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

I saw the book at Deseret Book and grabbed it the first day. My husband has been reading other books on this topic. We have been very anxious for this book to come out. We were wanting to read the Church's view on this topic. We feel the authors gave an accurate portrayal of what happened. It was not one-sided as so many others have been. Thank you for writing the book.

Excellant read
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

It is the most impartial account of the event that I have read. It truly gives you a better understanding of all events that lead up to the massacre. The authors did not pull any punches.

An important read for all members.
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

This book offers a concise and full account of the Massacre at Mountain Meadows. I believe it is very important to acknowledge this horrible atrocity and deal with the terrifying details. Fully honest and thoroughly written, this book has deepened my understanding of the massacre especially in regards to the climate leading to the killings-in essence the making of a massacre. I concluded the book in the evening when my family was asleep. All I could do was weep, uncontrollably. I was horrified and full of complete sorrow for the victims and the perpetrators. This is the essential book to read if you seek understanding of this most significant event in early Utah and Mormon history.

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