The Lost Book of Mormon: A Journey Through the Mythic Lands of Nephi, Zarahemla, and Kansas City, Missouri

Nan A. Talese: Doubleday. Oct. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780385535694. $26.95. REL
Straddling the line between literary commentary and personal memoir, Steinberg's (Running the Books) new book considers Joseph Smith—the American religious leader who founded Mormonism and wrote The Book of Mormon—as an author rather than a prophet. Steinberg explains how his fascination with the religious text, in which Smith traced a path to several spiritual areas throughout the world, led him on a journey from the streets of Jerusalem, where the work is extremely difficult to obtain, to Central America, where a Utah-based company offers historical tours to spiritual seekers. (Steinberg is an ardent nonbeliever.) This sojourn became an odyssey of sorts as the author's quest began to teach him as much about himself as about the book he was researching.
VERDICT Steinberg's sardonic writing style is a delight; his descriptions of the varied cities he visited throughout his travelog point out the ridiculousness of situations without truly mocking them. Using Smith as a backdrop, this enjoyable read raises questions about what it means to be an author and what type of person becomes one. It will appeal to a variety of readers, particularly those that appreciate a biting wit.
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