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A valuable diary that chronicled the disastrous Mormon “handcart” trek of 1856 was mysteriously “consigned to the flames.” And so on.As it happens, the Salt Lake church did not and does not enjoy a monopoly on Joseph Smith materials.
Knopf, produced an impressive account of Smith’s life, No Man Knows My History, in 1945.
Brodie hailed from LDS pioneer stock, meaning her ancestors helped populate the barren Salt Lake basin in the middle of the 19th century.
“Since logic played almost no part in Joseph Smith’s life,” Kirn wrote, “it may be fitting that it’s largely absent from this respectful biography as well.” Maybe no one could be expected to write a Smith biography that would satisfy believing Mormons and religious skeptics.
In 2012, John Turner, a religious studies scholar at George Mason University, published Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet, an in-depth biography of Smith’s successor as church president, whose effigy stands purposefully shoulder-to-shoulder alongside that of the prophet in Salt Lake City’s Temple Square and at other LDS shrines.
There are six million Mormons in the United States, and 15 million worldwide.
By that measure, Smith was the most successful evangelist of his time.
In 2005, Knopf published Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling by Columbia University professor emeritus of history Richard L.
Bushman, a devout Mormon who had won the Bancroft Prize for an earlier book.
Quite the opposite: Brodie thought Smith was a mountebank who eventually came to believe in his curious delusions and fake revelations. “People asked me for a good biography of Joseph, and it was the finest one in existence,” he recalls.
“There was nothing else.” Despite Quinn’s trials with the church—he is openly gay and an authority on the magical underpinnings of Smith’s religion—he remains faithful and dislikes Brodie’s depiction of Smith.