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Terryl L. Givens
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Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  119 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews

After Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt was the most influential figure in early Mormon history and culture. Missionary, pamphleteer, theologian, historian, and martyr, Pratt was perennially stalked by controversyregarded, he said, "almost as an Angel by thousands and counted an Imposter by tens of thousands."

Tracing the life of this colorful figure from his

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Published September 2nd 2011 by Oxford University Press, USA
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Aug 03, 2011 BHodges rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read Parley P. Pratt's autobiography as an LDS missionary. I marveled at the tales he related, his harrowing prison time and daring escapes, the Missouri persecutions, his missionary travels, his view of the early Mormon Church and Joseph Smith. But autobiographies often obscure as much as they reveal. The heroic, undaunted Pratt of the autobiography is nuanced considerably in this new biography written by Givens and Grow. Pratt's complexity shines through in a way autobiography makes im ...more
Jul 27, 2014 Jenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to renew this book three times in order to finish it. But it was worth the effort.

I liked the descriptions of the historical setting and Parley's life before Mormonism. I had no idea that he'd already been a missionary before he converted to Mormonism, or that such an activity as purchasing a pocket Bible and going from house to house was a common experience at the time. We certainly live in a different age now.

Parley's inner passion, persistence, and lack of tact are rather endearing. C
Oct 24, 2016 Judy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-reads
You begin to understand the powerful man he truly was.
So many names from early Church history are familiar, heard over and over again as characters in a handful of stories in Sunday School class: Oliver Cowdrey, Edward Partridge, Eliza R. Snow, Thomas B. Marsh. It's not very often that we get a three-dimensional picture of the complex people they truly were, real, living breathing individuals with strengths and weaknesses, nobility and foibles, virtues and vices. With Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism, Givens and Grow have painted a de ...more
Nov 30, 2011 Kent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-lds
I read Parley Parker Pratt's autobiography about 30 years ago and loved every exciting page of it! In this biography, Givens and Grow fill in some of the spaces that the subject skipped in his autobiography or that occurred after it was written, including a good mix of the less flattering details along with the impressive array of sacred and supernal experiences of a dynamic and most interesting life.

The evenness of the authors, revealing the human side of a spiritual man, adds to the credibilit
Jun 28, 2012 Villate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating as much for the insights on early Mormon history as for the information about Pratt himself. Though he is frequently mentioned in Sunday School and other Church settings, he is rarely quoted, at least by name, even though it was his ideas almost as much as Joseph Smith's that form the foundation of the Mormon view of God and the nature of eternal life. I didn't know how influential his speculations were on the Prophet's thought and preaching. Of course, Joseph didn't often write down ...more
Oct 03, 2011 Tanya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, biography
As I think about why I didn't enjoy this book more, I realize the 3-star rating is more about me than about the strengths and weaknesses of the biography. It's not that I wanted white-washed history, because generally I appreciate the more objective scholarly approach that this Oxford University Press publication provides. It really comes down to this: I didn't like the Parley P. Pratt presented in Givens' work, and I am uncomfortable with not liking apostles!

I can appreciate his wide-ranging m
Jeff Thompson
Jan 25, 2013 Jeff Thompson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Terryl Givens' biography does for Parley P. Pratt what Richard Bushman did for Joseph Smith in "Rough Stone Rolling." He provides a frank, respectful, and detailed picture of a fascinating man. He doesn't shy away from warts, and from the quirks (many of which are a function of the times). Someone whose roots in the LDS faith are somewhat shallow might be disturbed by some of this. Personally, I find it inspiring and faith-promoting to see that modern-day apostles and prophets are not superhuman ...more
Nov 13, 2011 Carole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a very detailed account of one of the most influential members of the early Mormon church. While I have heard his name my whole life, I had no idea of all he accomplished. He traveled widely to extend the reach of the church: all over the United States, as well as Europe and South America where he learned to speak Spanish. He was a prolific writer having written many pamphlets, several books, and un-numbered newspaper articles. A powerful speaker and debater, he often spoke to very ...more
Sep 01, 2011 Matthew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A marvelously written book. I wondered how much of this would be in PPP's Autobiography. There was some usage of the Autobiography (which is to be expected and required). However, there was a great deal of new information. The authors also did a great job of incorporating PPP's writings into the narrative and gave context to them in relation to his life. The biography of Brother Parley is a worthy companion to the Autobiography. It was clear to me that there is a genuine affection that the autho ...more
K. Smith
Jan 27, 2014 K. Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an excellent biography. The writing was impeccable--clear and conscientious about the subject matter. The subject matter was--hard. P.P. Pratt was such a mixture of characters all combined to make up an intensity of person that you rarely read about in terms of 19th century history. I found him essential to Mormonism as well as enthralled and uncomfortable about the account of his life. The last half was especially difficult in terms of a family life fraught with poverty, anguish, and a ...more
Jun 01, 2013 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an honest on thorough biography on "The Apostle Paul of Mormonism," Parley P. Pratt. Pratt, I learned, was devoted to his religion like few people ever are. His constant missionary service left him and his family nearly destitute for most of his life, but that was of little consequence to him. He was happiest when he was expounding on Mormon theology and the benefits of living its principles, including plural marriage. In addition to his many travels, Pratt wrote constantly about Joseph ...more
Jan 20, 2013 Summers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really good, but long and very detailed. Has a lot of information about the inside view of the growth of the Church, at least the areas that Elder Pratt influenced or was a part of. Doesn't sugarcoat anything. Pretty amazing how much members of the Church contributed to the growth of the Church even when they had almost nothing.

Finally finished this. I didn't find it spiritually enlightening or uplifting (I don't think it was meant to be), but there was a lot of good -- and bad -- detailed histo
Greg Diehl
Aug 04, 2013 Greg Diehl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read Pratt's autobiography right before reading this book. I've always known he had a flare for the dramatic and a penchant for embellishment, I just didn't realize to what degree he had pushed those proclivities.

Givens and Grow bring a much needed "Rough Stone Rolling" biographical lens to a character who helped shape much of Mormon culture as we know it today (i.e., biblical literalness, millennial/zionistic fervor, missionary zeal and the 13 Articles of Faith etc.).

All autobiographies conc
Ron Tenney
Parley Pratt is one of the most interesting characters in LDS Church history. All I knew (as well as most members of my church) is what I have read in Parley's autobiographic.Thanks to Givens, I have gained much insight into not only Parley Pratt, but also in the formation of the church.
I have a growing interest in the history of the church. The claims of history are essential in coming to believe in the church. There are many miraculous aspects to our history.Beginning with the First Vision ri
Jun 21, 2013 Dave rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A pivotal addition to the ongoing renaissance in historical Mormon studies. Givens and Grow bring astute analysis to Pratt's life and work.

I highly recommend the book to anyone interested in it perplexed by early Mormon history. The more perspectives I read, the better I comprehend the context and necessity of nineteenth century Mormonism. Reading about Elder Pratt was a special experience and a good counter to the equally masterful but stylistically different new Brigham Young bio.

I hope this
An an early LDS apostle, Pratt was the one who reasoned out and explained a logical theology based on Joseph Smith's revelations. As an almost constant missionary away from home, Pratt had a tough but rewarding life, though without much in the way of material comforts. He was a polygamist with 30 children. Throughout, he was devoted to his family but also to the Church. The authors do a good job of getting the reader to see Pratt's life and Mormonism in the context of those times. His autobiogra ...more
Mar 31, 2014 Shawn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This bio is full of interesting stuff. I was surprised to learn how much of an influence Parley P. Pratt had through his writing and missionary efforts on the early church and on church doctrine. It felt like a balanced, candid portrayal that was backed by solid research. I may have enjoyed the autobiography better, I suspect, because I suspect it would have had more enlightening/uplifting moments. This is more of a historical presentation, but it gives that presentation very well.
Mar 17, 2014 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This took me forever to read. It went fast when it was a straight biography, but much slower when the authors wrote about Pratt's writing. I understand that Pratt's books and pamphlets were instrumental in shaping the doctrine of the Church, but I just found it a bit boring to read about. Maybe just a bit less detail. Still, I learned a lot about Parley P. Pratt, and I learned a great deal about how early Mormons viewed their faith.
Sharman Wilson

This very detailed biography is a great way to learn unvarnished church history. I read Pratt's autobiography years ago, but this expands upon that quite a bit. I got a much better sense of the inner conflict between his desire for time with his growing family and his desire to spread the good news of the Restoration. I gained a better appreciation for his sheer brilliance and huge contribution to Mormon thought.
Feb 19, 2014 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religious, biography
A very thorough and readable biography of one of the most important leaders in the early days of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It illuminates areas of church history that were blind spots for me: post-martyrdom succession controversies in the eastern United States, early church missionary efforts in California, and the church's portrayal in popular media outside of Utah soon after settling the Salt Lake Valley. This book is certainly worth reader.
Feb 29, 2012 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading the book and appreciated the perspective of a scholar and time to understand this interesting man better. PPP did much for the beginnings of the Church and it is nicely chronicled and given context in this book. I marvel at what early saints were called on to do and see enduring to the end a theme of many of their lives. Well footnoted, and a clear writing style, made this biography a very worthwhile read.
Absolutly loved this book! I have read Parley's autobiography in the past and found in a little difficult to get through. This one is amazing! So much easier to read and the details they give of his life and the time period are great. The flow is smooth and it is put together very well. He is one of my direct ancestors so I really got a lot from this book.
Sam Newton
I thought this was a good biography though at times its pacing and writing seemed ploddish. I really wanted to finish it but I had to wade through some dull sections. I thought the authors looked at Pratt in a balanced way and I was surprised to see how much he left out of the autobiography, which isn't really surprising. I did not love this book however. It never quite got me.
Mar 21, 2013 Millie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

I thought this was a good book on early Mormon history. However, it was very difficult for me to understand the concept of Parley P. Pratt being so driven by missionary work. He would leave his multiple wives and children penniless and be gone for years upon years preaching the gospel.
Amy Phillips
Jun 03, 2012 Amy Phillips rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is fascinating to me so far... he is my great (3 times, I think) uncle and so it is interesting to learn of he and my great (3 times) grandpa, Orson. I garner strength from the challenging experiences that he had in his personal life and how he overcame with hard work and faith.
Jul 13, 2012 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The way the authors put Pratt's life in historical context is akin to Bushman's approach to Joseph Smith. Good book.
JJ Feinauer
Apr 26, 2012 JJ Feinauer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's a good fast read, not quite as dense as RSR, but still a great overview of American religious history and contextualizes Mormonism in a great readable way.
Apr 22, 2012 Douglas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it, Givens is amazing. PPP is truly a man of God and an example of sacrifice and faith for anyone. I appreciate his service and sacrifice and my testimony was strengthened by reading this.
Rick'S Reads
Rick'S Reads rated it really liked it
Aug 28, 2015
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Terryl L. Givens was born in upstate New York, raised in the American southwest, and did his graduate work in Intellectual History (Cornell) and Comparative Literature (Ph.D. UNC Chapel Hill, 1988), working with Greek, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and English languages and literatures. As Professor of Literature and Religion, and the James A. Bostwick Professor of English at the University of Rich ...more
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