Vernon's Reviews > Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling

Joseph Smith by Richard L. Bushman
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's review
May 14, 2012

liked it
Read in July, 2012

Very thorough history of Joseph Smith. I found it rather dry. Bushman did not hesitate to tread on the grey portions of Joseph's life and did a very good job of not speculating and providing an unbiased view into history. I did not actually make it all the way through the book (only about halfway) before it was due at the library, but I may pick it up again sometime later.

I started back into this book after a brief interruption (in which I read "No Man Knows My History" by Fawn Brodie). I managed to make it through to the end! This was a heavy read. I did enjoy it, but you do need a fair amount of determination to make it through. Bushman did a great job of covering nearly all of the same things that Brodie did, while using what seemed like more trustworthy sources. I think it would be interesting to see what would happen to the church if they taught Joseph's history in its full glory (and multiple iterations) rather than the sanitized, correlated version that we learned as kids. I think one of the things that bothered me most about this that we don't learn about in Sunday school is how terrible Joseph was to even his closest friends. He was unable to accept criticism of any kind. I can see how a professed prophet would want to brush off the criticism for any revelations, but nobody is infallible; yet Joseph seemed to think of himself as just that in many instances. And because of this, he made SO many enemies that in the end, he had nowhere to go, no one to turn to and was killed for it.

A fascinating, heart-wrenching history.
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message 1: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Murdock Your review is almost exactly what I would have written after checking Rough Rolling Stone out from the library and attempting to plow through it, back before goodreads existed. I too did not make it all the way through before the due date. The topic was interesting and some of the information was new and surprising to me (but not too surprising, when I looked back in retrospect, Joseph was, alas, still a young and imperfect human being), but oh so much detail, presented so dryly and so detachedly. It was hard to keep reading. I guess that's what makes a good history book, and I guess that's why I'm not a historian.

A little more on Joseph being human, I think the book did give me some more insight into how much God does not impose on our free will, even if you are His prophet. It makes things a lot messier than we would all like at times, but apparently that's an acceptable trade-off for preserving our freedom.

Sorry, long comment. I guess I should have just written my own review.

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