Apr 7, 2009

No Man Knows My History

by Fawn M. Brodie

This is a very in-depth biography of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints (also known as Mormon). It's an incredibly long book. I remember struggling to read it, not only because of the length, and the (often tedious to me) numerous historical facts, but because it brought a lot of questions to my mind. This book is crammed with stuff they certainly don't teach you in sunday school. As far as I can judge, it is very well researched, and the narrative style makes the information fairly easy to absorb, taken at a slow, methodical pace. The main quip I had with this book was that beyond presenting all the facts she could dig up about Joseph Smith's life, Brodie also tried to reconstruct what he might have been thinking or feeling, what motivations he had, delving into his very psyche. That felt rather presumptuous to me. How could she know what he'd been thinking? It becomes pretty clear through reading No Man Knows My History that Brodie doesn't believe Smith was a prophet, but at the same time the pages resonate with her admiration and even respect for this man. Even if you doubt his claims, there is no questioning that he was a charismatic leader, full of passion and energy, able to inspire others and with a singularly curious outlook on life. That's all I'm going to say about this book, as there's a plethora of other reviews out there, many of them long, detailed, and heated in opinion. Go ahead and see what a few others thought (links below).

Rating: 3/5                      576 pages, 1945

More opinions at (not all blogs this time):
the Wiki article
LDS-mormon.com (w/more links)

3 comments:

Jenny said...

This sounds fascinating! I did a report on Mormonism when I was in high school, and I remember being frustrated that I didn't have more time to read about Joseph Smith's life (before and after Mormonism got started).

Trish said...

I have to admit that I usually don't click on the links that people provide (because I'm usually on a time constraint), but I did in this case--sounds like a really controversial book! Once upon a time I had some church and prophet history books but I'm guessing they all got left at my mom's house.

Jeane said...

Jenny- There's lots of material out there to read. This is one of the more extensive biographies I've found.

Trish- Yes, it's very controversial! I believe the author got excommunicated from her church for writing it.