SPIRITUALITY & RELIGION

Kingdom of Nauvoo: The Rise and Fall of a Religious Empire on the American Frontier

Liveright. Feb. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9781631494864. $28.95. REL
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According to Latter-day Saints teaching, Joseph Smith found the golden tablets that, in his translation, became the Book of Mormon, in New York State. In crisp prose and using newly accessible sources, Park (history, Sam Houston State Univ.; American Nationalisms) traces the development of the Latter-day Saints during their sojourn in Nauvoo, IL, where most of Smith’s religious and political ideas came to fruition, including the doctrine of polygamy and his rejection of democracy in favor of a religious commonwealth with himself as leader. The violent death of Smith and his brother led to the departure of his followers on a trek that would take them to Salt Lake City. Park argues convincingly that, far from being radical outsiders, Smith and his congregation were representative of American society of the time, as he considers the role of women in the church and its relationship to African Americans.
VERDICT A perceptive study of a religion that has become a dominant force in American society. This work will appeal to anyone interested in the often-contentious history of religion in America.

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