Emma's Reviews > No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith

No Man Knows My History by Fawn M. Brodie
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Jan 08, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: religion
Read from November 19, 2010 to January 08, 2011

After reading "Under the Banner of Heaven" by Krakauer, it only seemed fair that I should give Fawn Brodie's biography of Joseph Smith a try. I was interested in reading into the life of the prophet who started it all. Although this book was not quite a page turner, I stuck with it to the end because the life of Joseph Smith and the birth of Mormonism is nothing if not interesting.

Ex-Mormon Fawn Brodie is deliberate in her attempt to bring the prophet down to a human level. But her personal rejection of the faith does not leave her unable to see the good in Joseph Smith. She is quick to point out his errors, including a massive bank fiasco, but recognizes his successes as well.

Brodie also sheds light on polygamy. Her explanation of frontier life and marriage helps explain why women would want to become the second, third, fourth... etc. wife of a man. She also explains how logically the concept of polygamy can be explained, which I found fascinating. I enjoyed the section on polygamy because it exemplified the power hierarchy in the church in action.

After reading this book it seems even more miraculous to me that Mormonism has survived until today. The number of setbacks and mistakes that were made in the early church are quite astounding. Joseph Smith's ingenuity with this religion is a lesson in American history, entrepreneurialism, and what is necessary to make a religion work. Whatever faults Smith might have had, he knew what had to be favored and discarded to make his religion succeed.

For those interested in reading a slightly less biased look at the faith than Krakauer's book I would recommend this book. This isn't a beach read, but life on the frontier was always interesting.
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message 1: by Antoine (new)

Antoine If you get to it, let me know how it is. I'm curious.


message 2: by Hannah (new) - added it

Hannah (ditto)


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