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Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  246 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
Focuses on the first twenty-five years of Smith's life, describes his visions, and recounts how he established the Church of the Latter-day Saints.
Paperback, 272 pages
Published December 1st 1987 by University of Illinois Press (first published 1985)
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May 02, 2011 Amy rated it really liked it
The first few chapters are painful...a lot of back history on the Smith and Mack families, but once into Joseph's family it is a great book. For one who often struggles with faith (me), this was a fantastic read. This story only goes through Joseph's early years and up to the start of the church, but I really liked all of the history, especially the "touchy" subjects including Joseph's much criticized "gold digging days". It made me realize that Joseph was a human, just like the rest of us--he w ...more
Joseph D. Walch
May 22, 2014 Joseph D. Walch rated it really liked it
One of the more inclusive scholarly works exploring the place of Joseph Smith and the founding of the 'Mormon' religion. I am indebted to the author who shed light into such touchy subjects such as the accusation of treasure seeking and the interesting fact that clergy may have responded so negatively to the First Vision not from pure anti-Christian motive, but from the experience dealing with universal spiritualists who were making regular and wild claims of heavenly manifestations.

The subject
Joel Stucki
Jun 28, 2014 Joel Stucki rated it it was amazing
I fell in love with book before Rough Stone Rolling was published. This was the beginning of the research done for that book and much of it is recovered in that later book's early chapters. I was taken a bit by surprise with the way the book abruptly ends when many of us know the story was just getting started and it definitely leaves you feeling a want for the rest of the story which Bushman would deliver many years later after much more research. Still this remains a even more detailed look at ...more
Nov 08, 2015 Janelle rated it it was amazing
This is a well written historical take on early LDS church history. I really enjoyed reading it partly because of the good straight forward writing and partly because it presented more detail into a history I was already familiar with. Although Bushman is a Mormon, he presents a rounded view from both critics and believers. In the preface, he openly states his beliefs on the subject, but then proceeds with the approach of a historian. A great read for both members of The Church of Jesus Christ o ...more
Apr 06, 2013 Edy rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Bushman is a wonderful historian. He writes clearly and beautifully. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I have known for years about the history Bushman describes, yet there was a freshness and clarity that I enjoyed immensely. Since I have attended graduate school and written a doctoral dissertation, I consider myself to some extent a scholar, and I was hooked on the scholarship of this book. I was so captivated by this author's style that I am cu ...more
Mary Holston
Mar 25, 2014 Mary Holston rated it it was amazing
Helpful to the non Mormon.
May 04, 2010 Karla rated it really liked it
I bought this book several years ago and did not make it past the first two pages. However, when I opened it just recently I became riveted. I appreciated the inclusion of various perspectives and the depth that was provided to historical events. This book helped me to understand a bit more of the general history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in light of its contemporary history. The author clearly holds one view, but is willing to share other views and provides ample refere ...more
Feb 28, 2012 Elisabeth rated it really liked it
An interesting, fair and thought provoking look at Joseph Smith's life up until the Kirkland, Ohio era. Dr. Bushman does a thorough job of looking at Joseph Smith's maternal and patriarchal extended family legacy and does not shy away from the more gritty and sensational aspects of his life. Next up (also by Bushman) Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. I have heard that the beginnings of that book is nearly identical to this one so perhaps I will be able to skip ahead.
Apr 19, 2008 Rae rated it really liked it
Shelves: religiosity
Bushman does a fine job of tackling the early formation of the Church, including touchy things like multiple versions of the First Vision account, the trials for disorderly conduct, and the Smith family's penchant for magic and treasure-seeking. This is a well-rounded book which is largely favorable to the Church. I would recommend it to those already secure in their faith.
Oct 02, 2011 Levi rated it it was amazing
This was a great scholarly work about the early Mormon church. Bushman did a good job examining Joseph Smith from all angles. He was not afraid to explore the idiosyncrasies of Joseph Smith the man and showed how even as an imperfect man, he was a great prophet and he performed a great work. It helped strengthen my testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith.
Jun 01, 2008 Robert rated it really liked it
This is the first of what I consider a series of books. Rough Stone Rolling. This book is fantastic, but ends rather abruptly during the Ohio years. I happened to bump into the author in Manhattan and over small talk (we were both ushers at the temple dedication) I queried as to why. Bushman's respons was wait for the sequel. Fantastic historian and scholar.
Jun 12, 2008 Cindy rated it it was ok
Started this one today and I'm not really enjoying it. The part about Joseph Smith's ancestors is interesting, but the overall tone of the book or something is too dry, and I'm not really that motivated to keep going. I will read a few more chapters and see if my opinion changes.
zoe nicol
Sep 05, 2007 zoe nicol rated it really liked it
I learned that I could make a Mormon cry on an eight-hour flight...that's what I learned. Facts can do that. I didn't mean to make him cry but I love me some history and some cultural context. I would have bought the man a beer but he's well...notsomuch into that.
Jul 08, 2014 Catheleen rated it it was ok
I had a difficult time sitting and reading this book for some reason. I might try and read it again
Oct 15, 2010 Erneilson rated it it was amazing
One of the best summaries of the early Mormon Church and its beginnings from a great scholar.
Joe Spencer
Feb 28, 2008 Joe Spencer rated it it was amazing
Unimpeachable research. It speaks for itself.
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Richard Lyman 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 histo ...more
More about Richard L. Bushman...

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