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Early Mormonism and the Magic World View
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Early Mormonism and the Magic World View

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  255 ratings  ·  31 reviews
In this ground-breaking book, D. Michael Quinn masterfully reconstructs an earlier age, finding ample evidence for folk magic in nineteenth-century New England, as he does in Mormon founder Joseph Smith's upbringing. Quinn discovers that Smith's world was inhabited by supernatural creatures whose existence could be both symbolic and real. He explains that the Smith family' ...more
Hardcover, 313 pages
Published September 1st 1987 by Signature Books
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Sherwood Smith
Every so often some LDS relatives take me to the free lectures by LDS intellectuals out at the Claremont Colleges, and every single time, not only do I hear interesting stuff, but the long drive home is livened by discussion. My reading of this excellent book was inspired by one of these discussions.

Quinn's scholarship is superlative. The notes are as interesting as the text. What I hailed with relief was the context, which American scholars frequently overlook in their isolationism, as if histo
The 1998 edition of Michael Quinn's book provides two different narratives: the intentional one (a historical perspective on folk magic in early Mormonism) and the unintentional one (an on-going response to his critics in the text and footnotes).

Michael Quinn first published this book back in the late 80s, and several critics attacked his work -- primarily LDS apologists/polemicists. The irony here is that Michael Quinn sees himself as a believer in and an apologist for the LDS faith. He does n
No scholar of Mormon History can avoid at least taking this book into consideration. Quinn has established himself as a scholar of Mormon History, and through the years has published a number of intellectually stimulating and controversial works for believers and critics alike. I found the book extremely interesting, though there are moments where I feel Quinn may be overstating the evidence. Culturally speaking, a study into the Smith family's involvement in folk-traditions and magic should not ...more
I loved this book. So so cool. I have a pile of peep stones - that haven't started working. Yet. Now I just need to find a divining rod - my grandpa used to have one. This book was so well researched and super interesting. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in early Mormon and folk magic history.
Chris Mower
This book was not an easy read, but it was well worth it. It's painstakingly annotated and researched and extremely enlightening. I can see why many church apologists hate this book: It sheds A LOT of new light on LDS church history as it pertains to the 19th century magic world view... a lot of which makes early happenings a sticky course to traverse.

To be fair, however, Michael Quinn approaches the topic with honesty, open-mindedness, and in a way that treats the church respectfully. NOTHING
Overall, I am glad that I read this book. It was a very meaty book that was sometimes difficult to get into. It is very academic (about half of the book is references and notes) and often I felt like I was reading a textbook. However, there were many parts that were fascinating, especially that last chapter (which was about 1/3 of the book). This book helped me understand the cultural context from which Mormonism sprung and I would say this is a must read for anyone with an academic interest in ...more
G (galen)
Okay… I bought this book several months ago and am still only halfway through it. It is fascinating subject matter and meticulously researched… It is just really REALLY information dense. And heavily footnoted. And the fact that I bought the book instead of checked it out from the library (they didn’t have a copy) means that I don’t need to return it in 30 days, so no rush (while I have five books checked out, needing to be read right now and returned to avoid late fees). So, I’m a bit lazy. And ...more
D. Michael Quinn definitively proves that Joseph Smith Jr. and other early Mormons practiced the occult. However, this is not an anti-Mormon book by any means, as Quinn is still a devout believer in Mormonism. He's simply pointing out that occult beliefs and practices were common at the time and Joseph Smith Jr. was a product of his times. Quinn demonstrates that Joseph Smith Jr. believed in astrology, amulets, talismans, magic parchments, seer stones and divining rods. He was known to have poss ...more
Bob Draben
This is the second edition of this book, the first having been published in 1987. Like Hierarcy,Magic World> offers many pages of extensive notes to bolster Quinns facts about which he writes. He is a skillful author and takes advantage of a good story but occasionally sounds like the academic that he is. He portrays a world in the first half of the nineteenth century where the people in New Englsand and New York although literate, had a world view that included folk magic, occultism, astrolo ...more
As per usual, Quinn's research is exhaustive. I found this book to be less compelling than the Mormon Hierarchy series, but that's likely due to my familiarity with most of the content of this book prior to reading it. In other words, there are no significant bombshells here for students of Mormonism. That is not to say I was uninterested.
Though reading this is akin to slugging one's way through a dissertation, I found it to be fascinating. I prefer looking at history through the eyes of the particular time period being addressed rather than through contemporary mores and opinions. Many thanks to the author for his extensive research and voluminous documentation.
Dan Gorman
Great ideas, compelling arguments in favor of a relaxed LDS view toward complex parts of its history, and awe-inspiring thoroughness in its research. HOWEVER, extremely dense, tough to read, and tough to follow at times. More of a reference guide than a proper reading experience.
A good explanation of how different the common world-view was in the early 1800's vs. today. It is a world-view that explains Joseph Smith, but that is so unpopular today that the modern LDS church would rather not face.
It would not be advantageous for me to attempt to write a review. I used the book as part of my research in wanting to get a personal take on who and what Joseph Smith was in the context of his historical period, and the historical religious period of the Reformation as was being understood by the every man (woman) of the 19th century period in the eastern states. In that regard, it would be foolish imo to disregard historical context in coming to get a sense of the man Joseph Smith. Irrespectiv ...more
This was a little bit of a tough read although I found it fascinating. My favorite part was the first chapter that outlined the much overlooked magic world view that thrived in many aspects of European culture from the Reformation well into antebellum America. This book is exhaustive in it's references which sometimes got overwhelming, however, I think that the content of this book is well worth the read for someone interested in a unique perspective on early LDS culture and thought. There were ...more
This book was extremly interesting. I have always been interested in the early years of the church. There was a lot of history from the Smith family from the years before Joseph had the first vision. Part of what I liked is that it dealt with issues head on and actually gave a lot of ideas about why some things that we consider strange now days were actually more mainstream back then.

I didn't find anything in the book that really challenged my faith. It actually cemented some areas of my beliefs
A fascinating look at the folk magic practiced by the leaders of the early Mormon Church. This is no easy read. I think in order to satisfy the critics Michael Quinn is painstakingly meticulous to avoid any misunderstandings. He has copious notes in the back of the book and I found that I was constantly flipping back and forth - notes - chapter, - notes - chapter.

I learned so many things that enabled my understanding of the thinking of early church members. Well worth struggling through the book
I really tried to like this book, but got bogged down in his constant citing of sources, which made me have to go back and re-read whole passages. And he had to make some pretty long reaches to get to some of his conclusions. Just because a book had been published locally at the time the Smiths lived there, does not mean they read it. They were poor folk, barely able to keep food on the table. Books were a luxury for them.
Iosephus Bibliothecarius
One of those books I wish I had read years ago. I learned something new on every page. It should be read by anyone interested in the the Mormon Church and its doctrines, both believers and otherwise. Absolutely fascinating and essential.
Tyler Anderson
This book actually fell outside of my purview and what I was trying to accomplish in my extensive reading unit on the LDS church. This is an academic work and will appeal to the specialist or upper division college student investigating early/mid 19th C folk religion in the United States.

I skipped around in here and put it down, so I won't rate it.
Samantha Newman
More like "skimmed" than "read." It was due back before I could give it a close reading, and I couldn't renew it. But it was fascinating and seemed revelatory for me. Like whaaaaa?! This happened and this whole time I didn't know?! Wanted to read it more closely.
Chris Webber
What a ride! As is always the case with Quinn's books, the information presented is meticulously footnoted and researched.

You cannot claim to know Joseph Smith until you are well versed in his magical, mystical background.
Austin Archibald
Although quite ridiculous and frustrating at times (particularly his conclusions), this book is a fascinating view into early Mormonism. Definitely the most unique (if not bizarre) book you'll ever read on Mormon origins.
Andrew Lavin
Where did all the magic go?
Quinn opens the world to New Mormon History and exposes the shortcomings of corporate instituted history that still prevails in much of the apologist writing on religion. One of the great academics in the field.
Mar 28, 2008 Susy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: LDS scholars
shows how much Joseph Smith might have been influenced by things the modern church would not approve of.
Interesting and impeccably researched book about the Mormon Church's connection to early American folk magic.
this book is really fun. some find it controversial, i don't really care either way.
Michael Quinn knows his stuff. I highly recommend this book.
Worst piece of junk he's written.
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