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Joseph Smith
Robert V. Remini
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Joseph Smith (Penguin Lives)

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  145 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
The most important reformer and innovator in American religious history, Joseph Smith has remained a fascinating enigma to many, both inside and outside the Mormon Church he founded. Born in 1805, Smith grew up during the "Second Great Awakening," when secular tumult had spawned radical religious fervor and countless new sects. His contemplative nature and soaring imaginat ...more
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Published February 1st 2002 by Books on Tape, Incorporated (first published 2002)
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Gil Bradshaw
Oct 03, 2012 Gil Bradshaw rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Remini is a Jacksonian-era scholar (possibly THE Jacksonian era scholar) who examines Joseph Smith using his expertise by placing him in the broader context of Jacksonian America. He is accurate in his account and acknowledges the impact of Joseph Smith on America's religious landscape. He is not a believer of Smith or Mormonism but he is quite objective and not at all critical of Mormonism. He simply presents facts. If anything, he is quite sympathetic to Mormonism.

He believes that Joseph Smith
Kate Lawrence
Nov 22, 2011 Kate Lawrence rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
On vacation recently I visited Nauvoo, IL, pioneer Mormon site with many Joseph Smith associations. When I asked in the Visitor Center bookstore what was the best introductory book about Smith, they recommended this one. Remini is a scholar of the Jacksonian period, so he thoroughly understands the political and religious climate of Smith's time period (1805-1844). In less than 200 pp. Remini renders a complete and accessible account of Smith's larger-than-life life. On controversial points, Rem ...more
Sep 04, 2007 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
This short biography of the man now considered "My Joseph" by author Robert Remini, covering the life and death of the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, is a well-researched, even-handed and concise examination of the life of a unique and great American. Drawing from sources as far apart as Joseph Smith's Personal Writings and John C. Bennett's Expose of Joe Smith and Mormonism, from scholars across the spectrum such as Fawn Brodie, Richard Bushman and Donna Hill, Remini has synthesized the important ...more
Maughn Gregory
In 1821 my 3rd great grandfather John Porter Rollins (b. 1792) drowned on a cattle ship that went down on lake Ontario. His wife, Keziah Keturah van Benthuysen sent their son James Henry Rollins (b. 1816) to live with her sister Elizabeth, who was married to Algernon Sidney Gilbert, the co-owner of a mercantile store in Kirtland, Ohio.

In 1830 U.S. President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, which brought about the forced removal of Native Americans from their eastern lands to an area
Tony Almquist
Oct 22, 2013 Tony Almquist rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very well written, concise biography of the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It is neither a valentine nor hatchet job, but it is fairly well balanced, putting Smith's deeds in context of the time, that is The Second Great Awakening in the early 19th century in which the nation of the United States was beginning to come into its own with technological advances and expansion beyond the Appalachians and Mississippi. People were searching for meaning and comfort, so a c ...more
Keith Akers
Jan 15, 2012 Keith Akers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent biography of Joseph Smith. It is critical and factual, but also sympathetic to its subject. I have been very interested in the history of religious movements. This book gives us a lot to think about in terms of how movements form, how they overcome obstacles, and how they evolve. Most interestingly, it gives us insight into how humans handle the question of divine revelation -- how they react to the belief that they have it, and how they react to the belief that others might ...more
Jan 25, 2016 Lelia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I enjoy these Penguin Lives books, and I was curious about Joseph Smith, so I thought I'd give this book a try. It is interesting - I don't know much about this era, so I appreciated getting some insights into the Second Great Awakening, the tendency to mob violence and the rise of the Cult of Domesticity. But I didn't find the book particularly engaging, maybe because Robert Remini is trying to be as impartial as possible in his account of a controversial figure. Young Joseph Smith's sincerity ...more
Shawn Thrasher
Dec 11, 2011 Shawn Thrasher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
According to a wise sage (Maureen O'Hara), "Faith is believing in something when common sense tells you not to." The story of Joseph Smith certainly requires a leap of faith. I thought Remini did a pretty good job of remaining neutral about some of Joseph Smith's more questionable revelations and actions. Regardless of whether you believe Smith pulled off one of the greatest scams of all time or was indeed a prophet of God (I guess this all depends on who you ask), you have to admit that he was ...more
Brother Remini did a masterful work condensing the life of Joseph into this smallish tome. While it would be quite appropriate for "non-members" to read, "members" could find it more or less boring . . . only because there is such a historical legend surrounding Joseph's life within the Church. I did find it interesting on the several occasions when the author referenced data not usually cited by the church and it's "bona-fide" historical department. These rare citations allow the reader to unde ...more
Katherine Crabtree
This is the first book I've ever read about Joseph Smith that I could completely trust. Historically accurate and written by a non-mormon professor as a biography as part of the penguin lives series. It was very interesting to see areas of Joseph Smith's life that the church doesn't talk about (probably because they make people uncomfortable/not believe it as much) and also see the way anti-mormons have twisted small details. It's also interesting to read about the formation of the LDS church in ...more
Shea Mastison
This was an seemingly brief and unbiased look at the life of Latter-Day Saints prophet, Joseph Smith. Robert V. Remini examines his life in context of Jacksonian America, and the tumultuous period of American republicanism morphing into American democracy.

Along with Scientology and Satanism, the Latter-Day Saints are distinctly American in their sensibilities. That's not to imply that these belief systems have no attractiveness for people who are not American; but the focus on industry, communi
Interesting companion to read with Rough Stone Rolling. Remini is not a believer trying in-essence to figure out this miraculous man, while Bushman is a believer showing just how incredibly miraculous the details all fit together. I've learned so much. It's obvious what Remini's stance is through out the book, but it's hard to explain away so many miraculous events and the culmination of what the church is now. I think he could have been a little more positive, but he was for the most part very ...more
Apr 09, 2010 Cliff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A neutral documentary on the life of the American prophet Joseph Smith. As a member of the Mormon faith, there wasn't too much in here that I didn't already know. The style of the book and the recounting of J.S. history weren't offensive for this believer and it did not relish in any "lore" that many anti-Mormons espouse as “truth”. For ammunition like that you’ll have to turn elsewhere. An even handed approach which will give anyone a primer on the life of this very amazing, yet controversial p ...more
Jul 08, 2008 Nitanews rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent, short biography of Joseph Smith by a leading historian of the Jacksonian era. Remini is not a member of the LDS church, and I think that makes this book even more impressive. It reminded me of Bushman's Rough Stone Rolling--but much shorter and much more pallatable for the casual reader. Remini is even-handed and the result is an insightful biography of a controversial figure.
A pretty good introduction to Joseph Smith...nothing too controversial for arguably the most controversial figure in teh series...

As with the Penguin Lives book on John XXIII by Thomas Cahill, I wish that Remini used more of the book to explain the background and impact of Joseph Smith on American history....a slight disappointment, becuase Remini usually does that so well with his books on Andrew Jackson and other early 19th century figures...
Jan 22, 2008 Samuel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author, Robert Remini, won the National Book Award for his biography of Andrew Jackson. Now he applies his talent to Joseph Smith, founder of America's only homegrown religion. He does an excellent job of presenting an unbiased account of
Joseph Smith's life, from childhood to his eventual death at the hands of an angry mob. Worth reading to all those interested in the beginnings of the Mormon religion.
Oct 20, 2012 Claire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good, basic introduction to Smith's life. I would have appreciated some harder analysis, but I can understand why Remini avoided doing that; once you start analyzing a prophet, the sub-200 page overview probably balloons into over 500. I did get an answer to my question about when Mormon missionaries first went to Europe, so that was nice.
Oct 01, 2011 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
By far the best book on Joseph Smith I have read. It presented the life of Joseph Smith in a clear unbiased way. Many new facts learned about Joseph. It was the kind of book one get tied up in. Well written. Not the most complete book available, but one of the best. If you want a clear easy to understand book you should look here.
Oct 01, 2009 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short, easy to read primer on the life of Joseph Smith. Remini tip-toes too much around some of the more controversial parts of Smith's life, but there's still plenty of good information here. Recommended if you're interested in the subject but don't want to devote a lot of time.
Feb 10, 2013 Evelyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a well told story of the life of Joseph Smith. I was required to read it for a history class but found the story to be quite interesting. Remini is unbiased in his presentation allowing readers to form their own opinions about Smith and the Mormon faith.
Jim Nielsen
Mar 29, 2014 Jim Nielsen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A well balanced biography of Joseph Smith from a non-believer. Remini does a good job of making the reader confront the awe-inspiring realities of Smith's accomplishments, whether you believe his theology or not.
Marty Overly
Oct 05, 2007 Marty Overly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
joseph smith is one of the most interesting characters that has ever lived. this is a biography that takes a very neutral position. it is neither pro nor anti-mormon. This dudes a trip! Loved this book.
Miriam Martin
Feb 12, 2010 Miriam Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Straight up, no nonsense biography of Joseph Smith. I love how Remini presents the facts in such a "neutral" way that you can't possibly come away without thinking Joseph Smith was a complete idiot ... ;)
Christopher Green
Feb 01, 2012 Christopher Green rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
This seemed like a very basic biography. It did not delve deeper than the most commonly known facts about Joseph Smith. It did, however, do a great job establishing the context of his times.
Robert K
The author captures the story but misses the spirit of why Joseph Smith is so significant to mankind.
Sep 28, 2013 Julienna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent objectif description of Joseph Smith in its true historical context. Must read for all LDS members.
this seems like an objective, historically accurate account of the 'second great awakening', jacksonian america and the mormons. smith was a 'seer' and a charlatan, that is clear.
Sep 04, 2012 Daniel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A good read and nice introduction to one of the most important and most misunderstood men in American religious history. Highly recommended.
Mark Cheathem
Mark Cheathem rated it liked it
Jul 27, 2011
Brion rated it liked it
Dec 30, 2012
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