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Great Basin Kingdom: An Economic History of the Latter-Day Saints, 1830-1900

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  82 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Leonard Arrington, who died in 1999, is considered by most, if not all, serious scholars of Mormon and western history as the single most important figure to write on LDS history. Great Basin Kingdom is perhaps his greatest work.

A classic in Mormon studies and western history, Great Basin Kingdom offers insights into the "underdeveloped" American economy, a comprehensive t

Paperback, 550 pages
Published December 1st 1966 by University of Nebraska Press (first published 1958)
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I got so much from this book. I will probably be reading it again someday. I especially loved the first half. Once it started talking about the railroad I got less interested, but then it picked up again after that. This gave me a lot more understanding in regard to my pioneer ancestors- why they moved around so much, what they must have felt and gone through after they got to Utah, etc. I think sometimes we focus so much on the months of the actual trek without giving much thought to what they ...more
Taylor Smith
Jan 05, 2016 Taylor Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
did some background research for a biography of an ancestor. fascinating and well written book!
Tim Malone
Aug 05, 2013 Tim Malone rated it it was amazing
This classic stood out in my home library growing up. I often saw the title and wondered what it meant until one rainy Saturday afternoon day I picked it up and could not put it down until I had finished it, even though it was days later. I was just a teenager but found myself enamored with the stories of economic ingenuity exhibited by the early Western Saints. It lead to a life-long interest in the business ventures of the church that culminated in a week-long visit to the archives of the Utah ...more
Ben Haymond
I love this book. I still have 25 pages to go but I really wanted to add and review it. This is prime LDS Church History painstakingly researched and recounted in great detail and with studied objectivity. As someone who had multiple ancestors that participated in many of the events recounted it was wonderful. Some great parts of my ancestral heritage shine out to me.

I loved the iron will and willingness to work of these people. They were enterprising and self-reliant in the face of abject pove
Stephen Cranney
I will never complain about anything again.

The economic details can get a bit trite at times, but he does a good job of weaving them all together to convey a picture of a sometimes brutal struggle for survival on the desert frontier. Previously,I had a notion of early pioneer life that included white picket fences and the occasional problems with invading armies and crickets, but this book shows that serious, existence-threatening struggles were a constant part of the Mormon experience up until
Dec 10, 2012 Chad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the Great Basin Kingdom, Mr. Arrington presents an intense overview of Mormon economic activity up to the period of Mormonism in Transition (the turn of the twentieth century). It was and is a ground-breaking volume. I marvel at the sheer amount of information gathered and presented here and wonder how anyone could find and bring it all together. It was a very slow read--lots of dry information mixed with interesting historical narrative. My favourite story (which my wife also enjoyed) was th ...more
Paul Eliason
A bit dry but fascinating read.
John E
Oct 15, 2009 John E rated it really liked it
A classic study in economic history. Written by a "liberal" Mormon historian who is remarkably objective. It is a serious read; a scholarly history of a fascinating subject. The first 70 years of the Church is discussed showing the ties between the theology, the economics, the settlement of Utah, and the centralized control of the Church leadership. Expect to spend a day or two on this one!
A very good economic history of the pioneer period of Utah. I read it for background in the lives of my own pioneer ancestors. Well written and insightful.
Jun 07, 2008 Joseph rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This gave me a great feel of the settling of the Mormons. Failed venture after failed venture. But they stubbornly stuck with it and now look. Plus, I never knew that slaves were donated as tithing. Nor that Brigham called men to serve gold-seeking missions.
May 20, 2012 Ray rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Must read! This book tells the story of the saints in the west from 1847 to 1910. It is in some instances more gut wrenching than that of the Saints in Missouri or Nauvoo. I'm surprised we don't talk about this more often.
Aug 21, 2009 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2009
Leonard J. Arrington knows how to write histories. I was amazed that such a long book about the economic history of Utah could be so interesting. I learned all kinds of things about the settling of Utah that I never would have supposed.
May 16, 2012 Bruce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a great (and long) summary of the Mormon experience in western America with a heavy emphasis on the Brigham Young period. I used it as a way to introduce myself to Mormon history for the period.
Oct 08, 2008 Kelianne marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
It is somewhat technical, and I have to read it in chunks with other books between. However, it is my first glimpse of an in-depth study of Utah's early economic endeavors.
Aug 05, 2008 Rae rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religiosity
An economic history of the Church from its restoration to the Manifesto. A very readable book about what could be really boring subject matter. I found in enthralling.
Aug 29, 2009 Rick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religious
There were some real interesting parts, but I must say that the economic detail was overwhelming and boring at times. I'd recommend it overall.
May 28, 2011 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yes there were some slow parts, but essential to understanding early Mormon Church history.
Jeff Crosby
Apr 20, 2015 Jeff Crosby added it
Shelves: history, lds
Because of the way I read and use my LDS library I have elected to not rate these books.
Jul 24, 2008 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having grown up in Utah, I really enjoyed reading this book.
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