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Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #183)

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  181 ratings  ·  49 reviews

Beginning with a handful of members in 1830, the church that Joseph Smith founded has grown into a world-wide organization with over 12 million adherents, playing prominent roles in politics, sports, entertainment, and business. Yet they are an oddity. They are considered wholesome, conservative, and friendly on one hand, and clannish, weird, and self-righteous on the othe

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Published March 25th 2008 by Oxford University Press, USA
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(showing 1-30 of 382)
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Tatiana Gomez
A very quick but thorough overview of the Mormon religion, this book covers the revelations of Joseph Smith through modern-day Mormonism in just shy of 100 pages. Although it didn't really contain any new information for me I did appreciate the simplicity of the book and its overarching question of why Mormons believe. I found Bushman to be objective most of the time, however, in describing controversial subjects (plural marriage, black priesthood, women's roles, the Mountain Meadows massacre) h ...more
Trisha
Overall, this is a wonderfully succinct and unbiased account of summary of the beliefs of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The author's treatment of LDS beliefs is informed from an insider position, but also that of a respected academic, thus is provides a healthy amount of critical distance, as well. Bushman doesn't gloss over or shy away from the controversies that plague that LDS Church, nor does he condemn the Church for them; he simply discusses them, offers p ...more
Nicholas Alahverdian
Professor Bushman proves himself to be the authority on Mormon culture and history yet again in this compact and accessible overview of the fastest growing church in America. For the most part, Bushman takes a linear approach when explicating historical events but also neatly explains doctrine and theology without becoming tangential. As someone who is a member of the LDS Church, I knew most of the material that was contained in this volume. However, the newcomer to studying and/or investigating ...more
William Cleary
I wasn't expecting this Very Short Introduction by a church historian to be damningly critical but some parts read like a church pamphlet with more historical details, especially the chapter on the priesthood, and any of the dealing with the RLDS (now Community of Christ) and any schismatic sects. Perhaps I'm asking too much for a Very Short Introduction. You learn quite a bit, but a lot of it is stuff that missionaries would tell you. I'd give this an extra half-star for the chapter on 'Cosmolo ...more
David S. T.
I was pleasantly surprised that this book, while being written by a Mormon, for the most part at least briefly address some of the complaints that people have with the Mormon church. I've only read one official Mormon history book but it ignored anything which might cause questions. This one mentions things like the Mountain Meadows massacre, polygamy, Smith's seer stone arrest, changes on the editions of the book of Mormon, not allowing black priests until the 1970s ect. and of course just how ...more
Douglas
With the possible election of Mitt Romney to the Presidency in 2012, I felt compelled to educate myself about the Mormon religion, its history and doctrines. Richard L. Bushman, who authored this book, is a history professor and practicing Mormon. While the book was intended to be a brief introduction to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, it operates (at least in my view) as an apologist's tribute to his religion. Hence, there are many gaps, particularly about founder Joseph Smith ...more
John
Richard L. Bushman may be the perfect person to write this volume of Oxford University Press’s Very Short Introduction series. Books from Mormon insiders attempt to convey religious roots, while books from outsiders tend to look at Mormon culture sociologically and politically. Because Bushman is a distinguished history professor at Columbia University he has for years been immersed in the secular world, and has long confronted outsider’s preoccupations with the sensational distinctives of Mormo ...more
Bojan Tunguz
Mormonism is considered to be an American religion, the first major religion born on the new continent, and the first to incorporate the elements of the life on the new continent in its fabric of beliefs and practices. Ever since its inception in the early nineteenth century it has fascinated, and often repelled, the outsiders, and drown new converts. Its continuing growth in the times when religious missionary movements are supposed to be in a decline is interesting in its own right. Mormon mis ...more
Julian
It's the first "A very short introduction" I've actually finished, and it was worth it. I read this as a preparation for my stay in Salt Lake City and even though I knew a bit of Mormonism - through Wikipedia, the LDS website, Southpark and Mormons themselves - I felt that I need at least one "scientific" entry in my list. So I choose this little book (along with "Christianity" and "The Bible" in a 3-for-2 deal) and the author tries to give a comprehensive, but not one-sided or even propagandist ...more
ellen
Richard Bushman strikes again! If you want an accessible yet scholarly overview of Mormonism but don't feel up to something as long as, say, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, this Very Short Introduction will give you a solid grounding in the basics. Bushman's greatest asset is also his greatest flaw, though -- as a member of the Church and a former president of the Mormon History Association, his works do tend to lack the critical perspective I prefer in my history. So read this, read Rough St ...more
Brianna
Meh. It was a nice summary of a lot of different beliefs and events in history, but there were also a number of points made that I personally quite disagreed with. Things like claiming that Mormons don't often think about xyz doctrinal point. I don't know which Mormons the author has been speaking with but the ones I've spoken with not only know the subtler points of their faith and can articulate them better than this book leads one to believe, but are indeed always game for a lively discussion ...more
BoBandy
Decent introduction. The author occasionally slips up an allows his enthusiasm for his faith to intrude on the "objective" exploration of Mormonism, but otherwise it is quite adequate. Interesting that he pretty much passes over the narrative content of the Book of Mormon--one reference to the Nephites without any context is all there is. Maybe the book of Mormon is the crazy aunt he locks in the attic...
Choong Chiat
After reading this book, I think a better title for it should be "Mormonism: A Very Short and Non-critical Introduction".



Lest any of you all are mistaken, I am not expecting the book to be "critical" of Mormonism in the sense of attacking it but in the sense of objectively analysing and reviewing the various aspects of Mormonism.



This book however, in my opinion, failed to do this but instead put forth an evidently positive portrayal of Mormonism and Mormons which skims over various difficult asp
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Liz
This was a fabulous overview of Mormonism as a religion - the basic beliefs and practices of its members, as well as the various controversies that Mormonism has faced throughout its (relatively short) history. It's written by a Mormon, but he writes it in a very matter-of-fact way - he presents both sides of the argument (from the standpoint of believers and the standpoint of critics) and then leaves it at that. I would recommend it highly to non-Mormons if they'd like a brief, yet comprehensiv ...more
Carole
I picked this up to see if it might be the kind of book I could give to a friend who has a lot of questions about Mormonism, but isn't necessarily interested in being proselytized or convinced of anything. I had previously read Richard Bushman's excellent biography of Joseph Smith (Rough Stone Rolling), so I expected that this book would be sympathetic but balanced, and written with an intent to inform rather than persuade. I would say it met my expectations in that respect.

The primary emphasis
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Dan Gorman
I've read this book on two different occasions. I was impressed both times by Bushman's ability to explain esoteric aspects of LDS theology in a very lucid manner, and his even-handed discussion of Joseph Smith and the historical origins of Mormonism. Since Bushman is a practicing LDS member, I wasn't sure what to expect, but he wrote a book that probably appeals to both non-LDS and LDS individuals. I will note, though, that I noticed during my second reading of the book some apologetic rhetoric ...more
SmartCookie
With only 125 small pages, this pocket book is concise and informative. It is objective and shows that Mormonism is no more or no less fanciful than other religions. I've always been troubled by the Mormon treatment of women and minorities, especially since it's such a modern theology, and people with their own superstitions, especially fundamentalists, will always see this faith as heresy. But I was happy to learn that Joseph Smith saw human beings as free intelligences, not created by god, but ...more
Cathy
Exactly what I was looking for. An excellent explanation of the history of Mormonism and it's beliefs. The optimism of Mormonism and it's communal basis is very attractive. I'm very glad to have read this book.
Sarah
This is an excellent brief overview of Mormonism and Mormon history, a perfect place to begin or end one's research, depending on one's interest, into the LDS religion and its past. Much of the information as a lifetime devout member was familiar to me, there were one or two items that were unknown to me, but the real value for me lay in seeing it all together as a whole. It was a good reminder, refresher and I read it one sitting. It is exactly what it says it is, a Very Short Introduction. A b ...more
Curtis
More like 3.5 stars than 4 stars. Good book overall and a very quick read.
Maria
A very educational and interesting read. I did find the organization of Tue book a bit chaotic.
Morgan
Just so good. I will say I felt frustrated at points when I thought Bushman was pandering too much to the this-is-why-people-think-Mormonism-is-nuts side of things. But it was good and necessary, so I acquiesce. Overall, I thought Bushman did a beautiful job of explaining Mormon doctrines - even putting into words beliefs that I had never articulated. It was lovely. I would most certainly feel comfortable loaning this book to a friend who was interested in learning what we're all about.
Kathy Marler
This is the third book I have read this week which discuss the doctrines of the Church, each in an entirely different way. I have two more yet to read, and it will be interesting to see how they handle the subject. Richard Bushman's book, Mormonism, A Very Short Introduction is almost written from a non-member perspective. I would really not recommend it to my friends, but there was some enlightening reading for me as a member.
Ryan
This book has some interesting information that I think Latter-Day Saints should know. It also helps Latter-Day Saints see themselves and their views from a world view. I find myself considering this view of latter-day saints from time to time. Written by a practicing Latter-Day Saint and professor of American Religious History at Columbia University. Many consider him one of the best sources on Mormonism. I recommend it!
Pixie
Sep 13, 2008 Pixie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone curious about Mormonism who doesn't want a pro or anti angle
Great little introduction. It's very thoughtful, thorough, and balanced for being so short, and really helps you put Mormonism into a larger historical and religious context, whether you are or aren't mormon. I think all mormons should read it to get a broader view of their own religion, and others should read it if they want to get a picture of what mormonism really is, without resorting to pro or anti religious literature.
Tim
In this very short introduction to Mormonism, Bushman chooses six key aspects of the religion --revelation, Zion, priesthood, cosmology, nineteenth-century Utah, the Mormon world--as a springboard to his discussion. As is usual with Bushman, I frequently found myself thinking "I had never thought of that" with his takes on seemingly familiar bits of Mormon history, doctrine, or culture.
Jeremy
Dec 19, 2010 Jeremy rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who don't know anything about Mormonism and want a brief introduction.
Surprisingly weak contribution to what is generally a strong series. It seemed the authors presentation of Mormon theology was a bit scanty, but even allowing for this weakness (it is a very short introduction after all) there were still problems. In particular, the sections on history and controversial doctrines seemed more apologetic and less rigorous than is generally the case in this series.
Zima
Fascinating, but I couldn't get over the way the roles of women and minorities are described, just can't get past the archaic views that persist. Naturally, this being just a Cliff's Notes type of book, I am certain it only scratches the surface of Mormonism, but it was a concise history, a good overview introduction, so long as it is read with a critical thinker's eye.
Peter
"A very short introduction" is the name for a series of books printed by the Oxford press. It doesn't necessarily mean the book is very short. Bushman is well qualified to tackle this topic and he does a great job of condensing Mormonism, its history, theology, and culture. I appreciate reading a telescoped version of what the church means. It refreshes perspective.
Electric
A very well balanced short introduction into the religion and church structure of the latter day saints. Eveb though the author is a mormon himself there are plenty of critical remarks and skeptical views included. recommended for anybody who wants to have a concise overview.
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Richard Bushman published widely in early American social and cultural history before completing his biography, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. Among his books were From Puritan to Yankee: Character and the Social Order in Connecticut, 1690-1765 and The Refinement of America: Persons, Houses, Cities. He teaches courses on Mormonism in its broad social and cultural context and on the history of ...more
More about Richard L. Bushman...

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