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Massacre at Mountain Meadows

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  667 ratings  ·  240 reviews
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. This book offers a thoroughly researched account of the massacre.
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published August 19th 2008 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 2008)
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Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon KrakauerThe Executioner's Song by Norman MailerJunction, Utah by Rebecca   LawtonDesert Solitaire by Edward AbbeyMassacre at Mountain Meadows by Ronald W. Walker
Set in Utah
5th out of 125 books — 58 voters
The Book of Mormon by Joseph Smith Jr.Jesus the Christ by James E. TalmageHoly Bible by AnonymousStanding for Something by Gordon B. HinckleyThe Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball
Best LDS non-fiction
74th out of 190 books — 227 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,345)
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James
A book of narrow but dramatic interest, Massacre at Mountain Meadows contains the most complete historical record of one of the bleakest events in the history of the Mormon settlement of the West. Few people know the extent of the Mormon colonization of what is today the western United States, Mexico, and even Canada. For example, you may not know that Las Vegas was a sleepy Mormon colony right up until people like Bugsy Siegel turned it into a modern Mecca for debauchery.

The 1857 massacre of an
...more
Mike
First and foremost, let me make clear my personal opinion on the key issue that separates spectators of the Mountain Meadows Massacre: Brigham Young did not explicitly give the order to attack and kill the Fancher Party. However, I am sympathetic to Will Bagely’s argument that BY was largely responsible for the tragedy because Young underestimated the affect of his venomous rhetoric toward non-Mormons on the Saints.

Having gotten that formality out of the way my general opinion of this book is t
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Chris G Derrick
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel about an extremely unfortunate incident in the history of the Mormon church.
Even if the story itself is more than a little upsetting.
It comes across as being both well researched and descriptive.
In essence it describes the circumstances surrounding the killing of 120 pretty well off settlers on their way to California.
All were massacred, other than the very young children - who were then given to Mormon families to be raised.
Only one man John D Lee was eve
...more
Brent Wilson
I had mixed feelings approaching this book. Wasn't sure I trusted this "establishment" version of the story, but hearing that it was good. My great=great grampa was Laban Morrill, and my great-great grand-uncle was Nephi Johnson. AND - my wife's great-great grampa was John D Lee - so there was plenty of natural interest in the story.

My reaction:

- Surprisingly lean telling of the story, at times even tedious
- Authors stuck close to the script; did not engage other historians much - which was a li
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Clay
I really struggled with whether or not to give this book 3 or 4 stars.
The book is well written, and it gives an in depth look into the Massacre, early Mormon settlements and the American West.
Things I like about the book.

1) They did not skirt around the horrific nature of the massacre.
2) I learned a lot about the American West and early times in the great basin.

Beefs I have with the book.

1) Out of THREE AUTHORS, don't you think that they could have chosen at least ONE non-LDS author? Due to the
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Kurt
I take no pride in knowing that my great-great-grandfather participated in this awful episode in western American history. But I feel compelled to learn and understand how events and circumstances could unfold in such a way that a group of mostly honest and good people could abandon their values and principles in order to commit the atrocity described by this book.

An important saying tells us that if we fail to learn from history we are doomed to repeat it. I strongly believe that the people who
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Brian
I gave it 5 stars not because I liked the story but because I think the work was well researched and produced. It is extremely disturbing knowing that this horrific massacre is part of the history of my inherited faith. Reading chapter 13, which describes the massacre in great detail is like being forced into a horror movie. The inertia of paranoia, religious conviction, fear, limited communication, and poor leadership all led to violence that any healthy minded individual would find unconsciona ...more
Emily
Every people has shady, hidden corners of the past that they would prefer to sweep under the rug and pretend didn't exist. For Latter-day Saints, the Mountain Meadows massacre represents the very darkest shadow in our history. The cold-blooded murder of more than one hundred men, women, and children was an inexplicably evil act by those who should have known better, who professed not only Christianity, but a better and purer and more righteous form of it. It's difficult and uncomfortable for mod ...more
Stephen Durrant
Can devout Mormons write serious, credible history about a shameful and controversial event from the Mormon past? This must be asked precisely because so much history written by the faithful, in this tradition and others, is committed to certain conclusions before the act of research even begins. After reading Walker, Turley, and Leonard's new book on the Mountain Meadows massacre, the Mormon 9/11 (September 11, 1857), my answer to the question posed above, albeit with a few reservations, is "ye ...more
Yvonne swinson
So far very good, although a lot of information to absorb. I was intrigued because a few years ago, my husband and I (our ward, to be precise) were unwitting participants in a PBS special on "mormons" which was supposed to be very favorable to the church. Instead, a huge chunk of the program was on the MMM. Now I live near the infamous site and wanted a truly insightful look at what happened. Since the LDS church opened their archives and contributed research $ to this project, I knew it would b ...more
Heather
Commissioned by the LDS church, this book was surprisingly unsparing in its description of the atrocities at Mountain Meadows (more detailed in its account of the actual murders than Brooks' book). They had lots of information at their disposal, and I'm sure it was overwhelming to sift through all of the obviously biased accounts (mostly left by perpetrators) to come up with a reasonable assessment of what happened. They give details about the victims and others that were not present in Juanita ...more
Sandy
This one was hard to rate. It was slow going, with a lot of people and events to keep straight. Although the authors are all LDS church members, you would not know it from reading the book. It was not at all religious or biased in tone, and they made no effort to excuse or justify the actions of the Mormon militia--in fact, just the opposite. I felt the book ended too abruptly and left me with unanswered questions. Why did it take 20 years to bring John Lee to trial (and subsequent execution)? W ...more
Tiffany
Most of this book details the causes and events leading up to the massacre and then quickly ends which left me with the same questions from previous posts. It is heavily detailed and there were many primary source documents referenced. I wonder though if the Church really did allow all documents to be viewed. Granted, church members probably have more access, but I question the all access pass. I question the full disclosure of such a horrific event, especially after the authors mentioned how li ...more
Bill
Excellent and balanced treatment of a difficult subject. Each source is meticulously cited and they are careful in drawing broad conclusions. They also are show how many factors combined to create a tragic situation without removing the blame from the individuals who appear to have made the most grievous errors. Not a happy story, but a great resource for those trying to make sense of the time and place see a broad view of the problems.
Aaron
This is a four-star book that I will never read again and probably will not recommend to too many people; it is simply too horrific. The book does a great job of setting out the background for the massacre without once justifying or giving any credence to the reasons and excuses that the participants gave for their terrible actions. I know some will question the bias of the book, given the fact that its authors all appear to be LDS, but I was impressed at the very even-handed and frank approach. ...more
Russell
Regrettably, there is not much "new" in history. I did a major papper on the topic in 1976 at the U of U; the three authors and tons of research assistants added little - details to the point of microphobia! Do read the endnotes; therein lies the gold....
Gary
My ggGrandfather was involved in this tragedy. This book gives me new insight into the events surrounding the massacre.
Dennis
This is not a story to be legitimately "liked" except through the skill and thoughtfulness of its telling. This much we knew already: what started out as a harmless emigration from Arkansas to California in the mid-1850s took a fateful turn for the worse in the territory of Utah and resulted in the brutal and unjust butchering of scores of men, women and children. Some Mormon men together with a few Paiute Indians from the region bore responsibility.

Any honest account of what happened in 1857 at
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Diane
Don't be fooled by the thickness of this book. Of the 430 pages, 200 are allocated towards acknowledgements, references, lists of names of those involved, and other various notes.

It doesn't read too much like a text book but at times I felt there was too much information of the surrounding circumstances. Still, it's to the point, direct in taking all accounts, every angle, unbiased perspective possible. What an atrocity occurred simply because of misunderstandings, poor communication, and pride
...more
Kate
Completely unintentionally, I began this book days after finishing one about the role of average German citizens in the Holocaust, and how ordinary and otherwise decent people can be convinced to commit terrible acts. The themes were almost identical.

This book is very solidly researched and balanced. I was relieved to find that the authors sought to examine and report the truth. Obviously bias is probably impossible to actually eliminate, but I was pleased with the telling. It was neither a con
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Jake
On a Utah History trip hosted by Weber State University, I had the opportunity to visit the actual site of the massacre. It’s a beautiful locale, calm and serene these days. What breaks the serenity is when people visiting the site open their mouths and start talking. To this day, intense bitterness is felt and expressed by people on both genealogical sides of the event, as if the massacre happened yesterday.

On my trip to the site, prominent scholar of Utah history, Gene Sessions took us throug
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Melinda
At first I was slightly reluctant to read this book, but I really wanted to understand this part of Mormon history better. I came away feeling like this was a very factual (yet readable), unbiased account of the horrific events that took place. I felt like the point the authors were trying to make was that this was an atrocity committed by several Mormon men of their own accord; none of it sanctioned by Brigham Young or higher church authorities. I felt like it gave a good understanding of the e ...more
Paul
2010.0807-2010.0820
While I wanted a more scholarly work, (source material in the appendix, better analysis on mob psychology and the effect of guilt on behavior) I would have to say this is a must read for everyone. Looking back we must understand that this is an account of real human beings who in the end acted against there moral sences and did evil things. The situation they found themselves in is out of our common experience; taking a moral high round outside of that faitfull week in Aug 185
...more
Jaclyn
Although the subject matter (mass murder) is horrific, this was an excellently researched and extremely well-written description of the massacre. I knew next to nothing about the massacre when I picked up this book and appreciate how in-depth and fact-based it was while still reading as easily as a novel.

I appreciated this quote by the authors:

"There were conflicts on the southern road. But the emigrants did not deserve what eventually happened to them at Mountain Meadows. The massacre was not
...more
Terry
Massacre at Mountain Meadows is a thoroughly researched, well-written book. It describes the complex situation of the Latter-day Saints in 1857 frontier Utah and the conditions that led to the massacre of 120 pioneers immigrating to California. The authors unflinchingly describe the decisions and actions by local Mormon leaders that led to the massacre. The book provides very little detail on the aftermath of the massacre, which will be set out in a second book planned by the authors.

While the s
...more
William Gerke
I picked up "Massacre at Mountain Meadows" because it was one of the few historical works I could find on the area where I will be going for my honeymoon. It tells the story of the massacre of a group of emigrants headed to California by a combined force of Mormons and Indians. But to say that vastly oversimplifies the situation and the novel.

"Massacre" tells the story of a community of good, just, fair-minded people who headed west because of a promise, a hope, that was betrayed because of gree
...more
Wade
On September 11, 1857 a group of Mormons, with the help of local Paiute Indians killed approximately 120 emigrants passing through southern Utah on their way to California, this book attempts to explain the complicated circumstances that led to this awful event. While not officially released by the church, its three authors (respected historians who work for the church) were provided full access to all church archives and given full editorial control of the final product. As I read, I reflected ...more
Craig
This book is perhaps the most complete and accurate account of the terrible atrocities (murders) committed on the members of an immigrant wagon train passing through Utah en route to California in September, 1857. The killings were committed by both members in good standing in the Mormon Church and their Indian neighbors of the Piute tribe in southern Utah. The area of Mountain Meadows lies to the west midway between St. George and Cedar City on the old Spanish or California trail which linked U ...more
Chris Webber
Killing fields. That is what the authors use to describe the massacre at Mountain Meadows. On September 11, 1857 approximately 120 emigrants of the Baker-Fancher party were massacred by a premeditated, systematic group of Mormon leaders, assisted by Paiute Indians. Massacre at Mountain Meadows was written by three faithful mormon scholars, sponsored by Brigham Young University and the LDS church.

In a pull-no-punches narrative, they present a simple, easy to read story of how the massacre was pl
...more
Bonnie
The most recent and most thoroughly researched book written about this tragic week in Mormon history. Using documents previously not available to scholars and rereading carefully the traditional sources, the three authors give new and definite statements as to what, why and how the events took place. I read Juanita Brooks' account many years ago as well as being familiar with President Hinckley's ongoing process to apologize to the Arkansas families, formally accept responsibility and then build ...more
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Very good read 2 20 May 24, 2009 12:30PM  
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