The Mormon People

  • by Matthew Bowman
  • Narrated by Mark Deakins
  • 11 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

With Mormonism on the verge of an unprecedented cultural and political breakthrough, an eminent scholar of American evangelicalism explores the history and reflects on the future of this native-born American faith and its connection to the life of the nation.
In 1830, a young seer and sometime treasure hunter named Joseph Smith began organizing adherents into a new religious community that would come to be called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (and known informally as the Mormons). One of the nascent faith’s early initiates was a 23-year-old Ohio farmer named Parley Pratt, the distant grandfather of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
In The Mormon People, religious historian Matthew Bowman peels back the curtain on more than 180 years of Mormon history and doctrine. He recounts the church’s origin and development, explains how Mormonism came to be one of the fastest-growing religions in the world by the turn of 21st century, and ably sets the scene for a 2012 presidential election that has the potential to mark a major turning point in the way this “all-American” faith is perceived by the wider American public - and internationally.
Mormonism started as a radical movement, with a profoundly transformative vision of American society that was rooted in a form of Christian socialism. Over the ensuing centuries, Bowman demonstrates, that vision has evolved - and with it the esteem in which Mormons have been held in the eyes of their countrymen. Admired on the one hand as hardworking paragons of family values, Mormons have also been derided as oddballs and persecuted as polygamists, heretics, and zealots clad in “magic underwear”. Even today, the place of Mormonism in public life continues to generate heated debate on both sides of the political divide. Polls show widespread unease at the prospect of a Mormon president. Yet the faith has never been more popular. Today there are about 14 million Mormons in the world, fewer than half of whom live inside the United States. It is a church with a powerful sense of its own identity and an uneasy sense of its relationship with the main line of American culture.
Mormons will surely play an even greater role in American civic life in the years ahead. In such a time, The Mormon People comes as a vital addition to the corpus of American religious history - a frank and fair-minded demystification of a faith that remains a mystery for many.

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What the Critics Say

“What do Mormons stand for? Are they quintessential good citizens or troubling religious deviants? Why are Mormons running for president? Matthew Bowman offers a quick, lively, and informative trip into the heart of Mormonism. All who are concerned or just curious will learn a lot about the making of modern Mormons from this book.” (Richard Lyman Bushman, author of Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A little one sided

Matthew Bowman is a Mormon. There - I've said in four words what he failed to say in 12 hours or so of this audio book. It is the duty of any serious minded achademic to declare such a compelling interest from the start, even if he feels he has not allowed himself to be swayed by it.

The book is interesting but must be used as a starting point to carry out your own research as so many potentially negative details are missing. The book accepts practices such as divining with seer stones as being factual. Very few dissenting voices are heard. What happened to the missing 116 pages? This book quickly (and glibly) describes them as being simply lost and bounces along happily. The truth may not be known but there is more to the story than that and it should be included. Why did it cause Joseph Smith such anguish? Was it because he had failed in his instructions from Moroni or was it because he eared he had been caught in a trap? Only one side is given here - the side that portrays Smith in the best possibly light.

In many of these cases there are two explanations. One is that Smith was party to the most miraculous and extrodinary events to take place on earth in the modern era. A direct and lengthy channel of communication with an angel is no small matter. The other explanation is that Smith was a liar. These are both possibilities that should be explored, but this book always assumes only one - the former.

It is an interesting book and gives a fascinating glimpse of the word from a Mormon point of view, but it is not the achademic study I was hoping for. There are also Mormon hit jobs available equally biased from the opposite point of view. I'm not interested in them either. I just wanted a good straight forward factual book containing all the information in a scholarly manner - that and a little integrity. This book has neither.
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- Sir Hesket Newmarket

Book Details

  • Release Date: 24-01-2012
  • Publisher: Random House Audio