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The Mountain Meadows Massacre

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  343 ratings  ·  39 reviews
In the Fall of 1857, some 120 California-bound emigrants were killed in lonely Mountain Meadows in southern Utah; only eighteen young children were spared. The men on the ground after the bloody deed took an oath that they would never mention the event again, either in public or in private. The leaders of the Mormon church also counseled silence. The first report, soon aft ...more
Hardcover, 329 pages
Published October 31st 1967 by University of Oklahoma Press
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Juanita Brooks was a wonderfully brave woman to have composed this book at a time when the massacre was commonly thought of as either having never happened, or simply "an Indian Massacre." The readership of this book owes a great deal to Brooks' great contribution to historical scholarship. Few historians have attempted to dissect the Mountain Meadows Massacre without coming away with polemic bias or ignorance. By all counts, Juanita rose above the cynicism in producing such a great work.
Interesting read, although a bit dry and full of huge footnotes that I felt distracted from the flow of the chapters (or maybe I'm just not cut out to read historical non-fiction).

A couple quick thoughts: 1) kudos to Brooks for having the courage to write this at a time when all the details were essentially filed away and locked up, and 2) the wild, wild west was a crazy time and basically uncivilized by today's standards. This event took place in that setting, yet I'm trying to understand it t
This was an interesting book to read. It was about a controversial topic. I think murder is wrong but the people massacred brought a lot of the ire they received upon themselves. Mormons had suffered in Missouri, Illinois, and other places and now the roles were switched and the Gentiles caught it. Many of those Gentiles, some of whom had participated in atrocities like burning Mormon homes and kicking them off their hard-earned farms and out of their homes in the winter, rather than going aroun ...more
I dated a Jack Mormon (one who has left the church) for awhile and the only time it came up was when he met me and when he said he had done a mission just out of high school. On my birthday one year he took me out and let me get stinking drunk, so drunk that I passed out and woke up in his bed the next morning with him and his roommate both watching me strangely. Apparently I had gone crazy and got up, screaming and ran to the closet where I continued screaming "don't hurt my daughter! Don't hur ...more
A little dry in places, but a remarkable work of research. Brooks does an amazing job of just putting all the facts out there- before, during, and after - and leaving the reader to come to his or her own conclusion. I particularly liked the work she put into "setting the stage," helping the reader understand the reasons for the emotional tension for Southern Mormons, the Native Americans, and the Emigrants. I also appreciated all the primary documents, so I could further study letters, journals, ...more
Juanita Brooks grew up in a Mormon community in southern Utah and this was, in her biographer's words, "the book she was born to write." She was the first to undertake a scholarly, historical exploration of the horrific 1857 massacre which wiped out some 120 men, women, and children. She wrote with the intention "neither to smear nor to clear" the participants, who (likely) included her own grandfather. The book's publication in 1950 broke new ground and was the first comprehensive account of th ...more
Feb 22, 2011 Brien rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History lovers
The Mountain Meadows Massacre is something most people have probably never heard of before - unless you're a Mormon or had ancestors who were part of the massacred Fancher wagon party. This book was the first to seriously attempt an honest investigation of the massacre, unflinchingly seeking the truth. What makes it even more remarkable is that it was written by a loyal and faithful Mormom woman who stubbornly followed the facts of the story, regardless of the consequences. And these potential c ...more
Jeff Wombold
I thought this book was very hard to read because of the constant changes in font due to the collection of notes from various sources. The footnotes were sometimes the size of the page. I must admit that I don't believe in the Mormon Church, so I went into the book with a pre-conceived notion that the Mormons who performed this act were evil. I continued through the book and I began to realize that I could understand the way that they felt after the murdering of innocent Mormon men and boys at H ...more
This was my first in-depth study of the Mountain Meadows massacre. I knew very little about the incident previous to reading this book and now I feel much more aware of the conditions within the Mormon Church as well as in the state of Utah, etc., leading up to the massacre. I think Juanita Brooks did a great job describing the local atmosphere and attitudes previous to, during, and after the massacre, and she cited available sources whenever possible. She showed how the tension and fear in Sout ...more
Though dated, this is still considered by historians to be the "classic" work on the massacre (at least until fall 2008 when Turley's book comes out). Juanita received a lot of flak for daring to write a book that laid at least partial blame at the feet of pioneer church leaders and members. She never had action taken against her by Church authorities, even though not everyone agreed with or cared for her conclusions. I found the book to be as objective as it could be, considering the volatile s ...more
Richard Homer
I thought the author did a wonderful job of laying out the underlying currents of a pending war with the United States, and the paranoia and suspicions of the Mormons of the outside world. As well as the simmering animosity they had, because of their experience in Missouri at the hands of some of the immigrants on the trail through Utah, at this tense time in the relationship between the U.S. and the Mormons. Juanita Brooks having grown up a Mormon in Southern Utah shortly after this time as a c ...more
MJ Brewer
Not at all impressed with the mentality of this book. The author informs the readers she is and always has been LDS (Latter-Day Saint), which means the church allowed her to publish this and accept her in doing so. The fact remains she did not bring any blood to the surface and resolve any fantastic crime... she compiled facts that were already published and like the artist she is, created her own picture.

John D. Lee was by no means an unwavering paperboy and scout, waiting at the corner to hel
I actually read this many years ago. Unfortunately, the LDS church didn't want this published and Juanita Brooks was excommunicated. Now, there are several books on the topic without the threat of being disowned by the church as they cannot deny the history.

This is a dark event among LDS history but doesn't negate the good.
I read this as research for a paper I wrote on Rene Girard's theory of ritual violence. This book is less the story of the Mountain Meadows Massacre--ending as it does, with the execution of John D Lee two decades later, it is more *his* story.

Lee's story, told by Brooks, fits the Girardian scapegoat very well:
- violence and trouble between the Mormons and the Federal government continued to escalate, and there was no clear resolution of the MMM.
- he was a princely figure, with impeccable creden
This book is completely biased, which is understandable considering a Mormon wrote it. It completely leaves out valuable facts and history about LDS, and is trying too hard too pull at everyone's heart strings. The author basically pretends that Joseph Smith did nothing wrong, and that Mormons were prosecuted for absolutely no reason. What's disappointing is that many people actually think this is a valuable historical account of Mountain Meadows, and are reviewing it as that on this website.
Stacy LeVine
This monograph chronicles the infamous butchery of a pioneer wagon train by fanatical Mormons in pre-statehood Utah. It is written by a Mormon historian, and is considered the definitive work on the event. Unfortunately, the massacre accounts for only about one third of the text. The rest is all Mormon genealogy. Consequently, it is a truly painful read. It's really a shame, because the actual story of the massacre is absolutely fascinating.
Jon Krakauer thinks highly of this book... I think he mentioned her dogged attention to historic detail. I wasn't crazy about it. Her storytelling (yes, I know this is non-fiction) isn't particularly compelling, and she mentions a lot of people without properly introducing them -- perhaps assuming a deeper, broader knowledge of Mormon history than I have. And I may not be a Mormon scholar, but I've been reading a lot on the subject!
I grew up in St. George and I had always heard about the massacre but had not spent the time to read about it. After reading Jon Krakauer's "Under the Banner of Heaven" it rekindled my interest on this subject. I found it to be a very interesting book. Brooks did a great job of placing the reader in the moment which allows the reader to decide for themselves where to place blame for the events.
I've read all the books I can find on Mountain Meadows Massacre, and this was the first, and considered the standard. What it lacks is what all the others lack, any conclusive evidence of what actually happened. There are many different accounts of the incident, none consistent with any other, and none totally convincing. I wish we could find out what really happened.
It is hard to separate the historical importance of this book from the reading experience. Juanita Brooks bravely opened up a chapter of LDS history that needed to be discussed, though it took another half century for the LDS mainstream to follow her lead (hence the 2008 book Massacre at Mountain Meadows). A quick, terrible, and fascinating read.
I had just finished the biography of Juanita Brooks and wanted to read some of her work so I read this one having grown up in the area. I knew Lee's descendants and wanted to know more. But this book lacks something that I am finding in the latest book that just came out. I also was disturbed by some of Juanita's methods.
Rebecca Hill
Juanita Brooks took a huge risk in writing this book. She was once a practicing member of the Mormon faith, and when she decided that she could not keep the secret quiet anymore, she wrote this explosive book. I was riveted from the first page, and could not put it down.

Anyone that loves history, will love this book!
May 07, 2009 Brent marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
A friend of mine summed it up best when his youngest daughter of 10 asked him, "You don't believe Brigham Young was a prophet?", He didn't know that she had been cluing in on his feelings, and so he was caught unprepared to respond. He simply responded, "He may have been involved with murder."
Rod Barnes
From the standpoint of establishing historical context in which the massacre occurred the book is very good. There is however so much contradictory testimony that I doubt that the truth of what happened and by whom will ever be clear. Well-written in any case.
Juanita Brooks' writing style is a bit weak but her book is very informative. Brooks is to be commended for presenting the facts as they stand and not jumping to extreme conclusions; however, even after reading her book unanswered questions still remain.
The subject of my freshman year writing class. Man, I wrote a lot of papers about this book. Ground-breaking, but full of what doesn't stand by modern history standards.
Interesting to read this book after the recently released "Massacre at Mountain Meadows" by Walker et al.
Janelle Wilcox
an excellent historical account of the events. I would recommend this to mormons and non mormons alike.
A must read. More detailed reports are now available, but this is the book that got the ball rolling.
Sometimes weak on writing style but unquestionably a groundbreaking work of lasting significance.
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