REVIEW: Mason and Turner, Out of Obscurity: Mormonism Since 1945

A vast majority of work on the history of Mormonism focuses on the nineteenth century. (Guilty as charged!) And those few books that do creep into the twentieth typically focus on the first few decades as the church transitioned from a parochial and polygamous sect to a patriotic and integrated institution. Part of this trend…

REVIEW: Partridge, “Thirteenth Apostle: The Diaries of Amasa M. Lyman”

Scott H. Partridge, ed., The Thirteenth Apostle: The Diaries of Amasa M. Young, 1832-1877 (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2016). Amasa Lyman is a difficult person to situate within the Mormon tradition. On the one hand, he was a fervent believer, a devoted follower of Joseph Smith, a dogged defender of the gospel, a diligent pioneer,…

REVIEW: Matthew Karp, This Vast Southern Empire

This isn’t your grandparents’ antebellum South. A generation ago it was common for historians to talk about the “regressing” southern states in the decades preceding Civil War. The advent of democracy, the spread of enlightenment, and the triumph of free labor left slaveholders reeling and the slave institution crumbling. Secession, this narrative emphasized, was the…

Continental History: It’s So Hot Right Now

Remember when we were all Atlanticists? Apparently we’ve moved on to something new already. Whereas it used to be “trendy” to place early America’s history in a strictly Atlantic context—in which an emphasis is placed on the intersections between the United States, Europe, and, to a lesser extent, Africa—there has been an upswing in work…

Religion and Politics Essay on Joseph Smith’s Council of Fifty

This morning my review essay of the new Council of Fifty volume from the Joseph Smith Papers Project went live. It really was one of my favorite writing projects in a long time, as I’ve long looked forward to a day to read these documents. I’ll probably have a few more posts on the C50…

Phyllis Schlafly and the Modern Mormon Political Image

(Yes, I know, Phyllis Schafly wasn’t Mormon. But bear with me.) News leaked out yesterday that Schlafly, one of the most prominent figures of America’s Religious Right, passed away at the age of 92. There will be plenty of excellent historians who will explain her significance to America’s political history. (That is, if there are…

The Community of Dialogue

You do a lot of couch surfing as a broke college student. As I was traveling to conferences and archives I relied on the generosity of friends as well as friends-of-friends. I also tried to tap into the vast Mormon network. All to save a buck. I met a lot of great people this way,…