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Massacre at Mountain Meadows

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  750 Ratings  ·  252 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. 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 fro
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published August 1st 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 127 books — 66 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
73rd out of 196 books — 243 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,519)
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Apr 07, 2009 James rated it really liked it
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
Apr 07, 2010 Mike rated it it was ok
Shelves: mormonism
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
Jan 31, 2009 Clay rated it liked it
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
Chris G Derrick
Mar 25, 2015 Chris G Derrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Brent Wilson
Jan 26, 2009 Brent Wilson rated it really liked it
Shelves: mormons
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
Stephen Durrant
Mar 14, 2009 Stephen Durrant rated it really liked it
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
Feb 03, 2009 Kurt rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
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
Jul 14, 2015 Brian rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 24, 2013 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Yvonne swinson
Mar 20, 2009 Yvonne swinson rated it liked it
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
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
May 30, 2009 Sandy rated it liked it
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
Apr 13, 2016 Meridee rated it it was amazing
The most thoroughly researched, unbiased book available on this difficult subject. These authors had access to archival documents not available to previous authors and made a valiant effort to recount this story from both sides - the victims and the perpetrators. While the fact this even happened is still unfathomable to me, an understanding of the mindset of this era from the perspective of the emigrant train and the Utah Mormon settlers gives a better understanding of how this unspeakable horr ...more
Jul 02, 2014 Tiffany rated it liked it
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
Dec 15, 2008 Bill rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 17, 2016 Brett rated it it was amazing
The thoroughly researched and extremely well written account of the massacre of more than 120 men, women, and children who were part of an Arkansas wagon train headed for California in 1857 -- murdered by Indians and Mormon settlers. The authors present the story in an extremely balanced fashion, making no apologies or excuses for what happened. They present the available evidence in an unbiased fashion, pointing out discrepancies in stories and biases that may exist so that readers may determin ...more
Apr 22, 2016 Brad rated it really liked it
A gut-wrenching but powerful account of one the darkest periods in Mormon history. Meticulously researched and refreshingly honest. Highly recommended for anyone willing to take on unvarnished version of history. The authors do not pass judgment but let the facts speak for themselves. Made my heart ache for the victims left to wonder at the senselessness of human cruelty.
Jan 21, 2015 Aaron rated it really liked it
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
Allen Bishop
Jan 06, 2015 Allen Bishop rated it really liked it
Four stars is supposed to mean "I really liked it"; something of a misnomer here. I believe the authors did a good job - the tale is horrific, of course. When the authors publish their promised "rest of the story", with the same honesty and fairness, I will give a full five stars to both volumes.
Glen Brooksby
Feb 18, 2016 Glen Brooksby rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend "Massacre at Mountain Meadows" (2008) by Walker, Turley and Leonard. (And yes, Ray, it's available for Kindle.)
The 3 authors are members of the church, but don't gloss over anything in this book.
I work at a research center and I've read some research in my time, but nothing approaches this for being authoritative. I don't think a paragraph goes by in this book that there isn't 3 or more references. To give you an idea, the book is 430 pages, but of that, 200 pages is acknowleg
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....
Jenalyn C
Jan 08, 2009 Jenalyn C rated it it was amazing
A must-read for anyone interested in southern Utah, Mormon, or pioneer history. Very factual. Very sad. Extremely powerful.
Sep 16, 2010 Gary rated it really liked it
My ggGrandfather was involved in this tragedy. This book gives me new insight into the events surrounding the massacre.
Feb 20, 2015 Dennis rated it liked it
Shelves: history
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
Mar 04, 2014 Diane rated it liked it
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
Feb 28, 2014 Kate rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 05, 2009 Jake rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, non-fiction
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
Feb 04, 2012 Melinda rated it really liked it
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
Aug 20, 2010 Paul rated it really liked it
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
Jan 22, 2011 Jaclyn rated it it was amazing
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
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Very good read 2 20 May 24, 2009 12:30PM  
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