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Great Basin Kingdom: An Economic History of the Latter-day Saints, 1830-1900, New Edition

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  120 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Leonard Arrington, who died in 1999, is considered by most, if not all, serious scholars of Mormon and western history as the single most important figure to write on LDS history. Great Basin Kingdom is perhaps his greatest work. A classic in Mormon studies and western history, Great Basin Kingdom offers insights into the 'underdeveloped' American economy, a comprehensive ...more
Paperback, 576 pages
Published December 1st 2004 by University of Illinois Press (first published 1958)
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Start your review of Great Basin Kingdom: An Economic History of the Latter-day Saints, 1830-1900, New Edition
I got so much from this book. I will probably be reading it again someday. I especially loved the first half. Once it started talking about the railroad I got less interested, but then it picked up again after that. This gave me a lot more understanding in regard to my pioneer ancestors- why they moved around so much, what they must have felt and gone through after they got to Utah, etc. I think sometimes we focus so much on the months of the actual trek without giving much thought to what they ...more
Taylor Smith
Oct 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
did some background research for a biography of an ancestor. fascinating and well written book!
Tim Malone
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This classic stood out in my home library growing up. I often saw the title and wondered what it meant until one rainy Saturday afternoon day I picked it up and could not put it down until I had finished it, even though it was days later. I was just a teenager but found myself enamored with the stories of economic ingenuity exhibited by the early Western Saints. It lead to a life-long interest in the business ventures of the church that culminated in a week-long visit to the archives of the Utah ...more
Mar 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
I love this book. I still have 25 pages to go but I really wanted to add and review it. This is prime LDS Church History painstakingly researched and recounted in great detail and with studied objectivity. As someone who had multiple ancestors that participated in many of the events recounted it was wonderful. Some great parts of my ancestral heritage shine out to me.

I loved the iron will and willingness to work of these people. They were enterprising and self-reliant in the face of abject pove
Stephen Cranney
Apr 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
I will never complain about anything again.

The economic details can get a bit trite at times, but he does a good job of weaving them all together to convey a picture of a sometimes brutal struggle for survival on the desert frontier. Previously,I had a notion of early pioneer life that included white picket fences and the occasional problems with invading armies and crickets, but this book shows that serious, existence-threatening struggles were a constant part of the Mormon experience up until
Devan Jensen
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A classic study of efforts by Latter-day Saints to establish a communal kingdom of God in the western United States. Arrington covers the felicitous discovery of gold and use as a means of exchange, the beneficial trade with Forty-Niners, the tenuous fight to produce enough food to eat, ambitious efforts to create colonies through the Mormon Corridor, the arduous (and unsuccessful) iron, lead, and cotton missions, the Young Express and Carrying Company (predecessor to the Pony Express), the Utah ...more
Oct 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
In the Great Basin Kingdom, Mr. Arrington presents an intense overview of Mormon economic activity up to the period of Mormonism in Transition (the turn of the twentieth century). It was and is a ground-breaking volume. I marvel at the sheer amount of information gathered and presented here and wonder how anyone could find and bring it all together. It was a very slow read--lots of dry information mixed with interesting historical narrative. My favourite story (which my wife also enjoyed) was th ...more
John E
Oct 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A classic study in economic history. Written by a "liberal" Mormon historian who is remarkably objective. It is a serious read; a scholarly history of a fascinating subject. The first 70 years of the Church is discussed showing the ties between the theology, the economics, the settlement of Utah, and the centralized control of the Church leadership. Expect to spend a day or two on this one! ...more
Nov 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing

Must read! This book tells the story of the saints in the west from 1847 to 1910. It is in some instances more gut wrenching than that of the Saints in Missouri or Nauvoo. I'm surprised we don't talk about this more often.
May 16, 2012 rated it liked it
This book is a great (and long) summary of the Mormon experience in western America with a heavy emphasis on the Brigham Young period. I used it as a way to introduce myself to Mormon history for the period.
Feb 04, 2008 rated it liked it
This gave me a great feel of the settling of the Mormons. Failed venture after failed venture. But they stubbornly stuck with it and now look. Plus, I never knew that slaves were donated as tithing. Nor that Brigham called men to serve gold-seeking missions.
May 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
Leonard J. Arrington knows how to write histories. I was amazed that such a long book about the economic history of Utah could be so interesting. I learned all kinds of things about the settling of Utah that I never would have supposed.
May 05, 2016 rated it liked it
A very good economic history of the pioneer period of Utah. I read it for background in the lives of my own pioneer ancestors. Well written and insightful.
Sep 04, 2008 marked it as to-read
It is somewhat technical, and I have to read it in chunks with other books between. However, it is my first glimpse of an in-depth study of Utah's early economic endeavors. ...more
Paul Eliason
A bit dry but fascinating read.
May 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Yes there were some slow parts, but essential to understanding early Mormon Church history.
Jeff Anderson
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A groundbreaking work.
Jeff Crosby
Because of the way I read and use my LDS library I have elected to not rate these books.
Apr 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religiosity
An economic history of the Church from its restoration to the Manifesto. A very readable book about what could be really boring subject matter. I found in enthralling.
Aug 29, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: religious
There were some real interesting parts, but I must say that the economic detail was overwhelming and boring at times. I'd recommend it overall. ...more
May 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, humor
Okay. I'm going to try and be positive first. First, there are aspects of this information that are wildly fascinating (I think). Attempts to live the "United Order," the Utah War, Brigham Young's unique viewpoints,* Eliza Snow being touted as a feminist for the first time (that I ever heard)-- These are all interesting topics and worth exploring. Especially the latter.

It had its dry humor too. If you've read it, you'd know about the DMC. And there were several times when I laughed out loud bec
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Lauren Elizabeth
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