Sunday, April 22, 2007

New polygamy book debuts

The Polygamy Files:
The Tribune's blog on the plural life

New polygamy book debuts
Author B. Carmon Hardy is back with what one reviewer calls the book that should ''supplant all former books as a history of polygamy.''

That comes from someone who has his one bonafides: Todd Compton, author of '''In Sacred Loneliness,'' a chronicle of the wives of Joseph Smith.

The new book is ''Doing the Works of Abraham: Mormon Polygamy, Its Origins, Practice and Demise." Hardy will be signing copies Friday night from 5-7 p.m. at Benchmark Books, 3269 S. Main Street, Ste. 250, in Salt Lake City. I plan to go.

I've read several chapters of Hardy's book and was enthralled, especially with the footnotes. They are extensive but a terrific source of explanatory detail that really enrich the documentary history he weaves together.

In the footnotes to chapter 9, I learned, for example, that the Oct. 8 edition of The Salt Lake Tribune derisively referred to the 1890 Manifesto advising LDS Church members to cease plural marriage as ''The Pronunciamento.''

The Woman's Exponent, a church publication, described it as a "letter." The Deseret News said it made its point "poorly."


Here's a question: Is it possible to cover the topic of polygamy in a historical perspective in under 400 pages.

Hardy's book weighs in at 448 pages.

Brian C. Hale's book on fundamentalist Mormons, which has just been issued in final form, tallies 524 pages.

Todd Compton's book? 788 pages.

It is not about polygamy, but for the record Michael Quinn's book, ''The Mormon Hierarchy," contains 720 pages.

Those four books alone practically require their own book shelf. And getting through them? Well, they are not exactly in the tote 'em to the pool category.

Still, I'm reading them. Every single type-filled page.

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