Monday, February 06, 2012

Book: Playing with Shadows: Voices Of Dissent In The Mormon West

9780870623806_Medium.jpgThe next volume in the "Kingdom in the West" series is available.  Playing with Shadows: Voices Of Dissent In The Mormon West was edited by Polly Aird, Jeff Nichols and Will Bagley; published by the Arthur H. Clark Company.

  • A review of the book by Kris Wray for the Association for Mormon Letters is available here.
  • Ken Sanders Rare Books will host a reading and signing featuring the book's editors, Polly Aird, Jeff Nichols, and Will Bagley at 7pm on Thursday, February 16th at the downtown Salt Lake City bookstore, 268 South 200 East. This event is free and open to the public.

  • H. Michael Marquardt has made available The Coming Storm: The Murder of Jesse Thompson Hartley. This was originally published as a Collector's Edition Keepsake for  Playing with Shadows
About Playing with Shadows:

This collection of narratives by four individuals who abandoned Mormonism—"apostates," as Brigham Young and other Latter-day Saint leaders labeled them—provides an overview of dissent from the beginning of the religion to the early twentieth century and presents a wide range of disaffection with the faith or its leaders.

Instead of focusing on a single disheartened individual or sect, this collection includes dissenters with different motivations and a wide range of experiences. Some devout Mormon converts, finding Brigham Young's implementation of the Kingdom of God disillusioning, turned their backs on religion in general. Yet most never lost their love for their fellow Mormons or their longing for the ideal society they had dreamed of building.

Newspaper articles, personal letters, journals, and sermons provide context for the testaments collected here—those of George Armstrong Hicks, Charles Derry, Ann Gordge, and Brigham Young Hampton. The four range from those who felt Brigham Young had not lived up to the precepts of Mormonism, to "backouts" who gave up and left Utah, to a plural wife who constructed a rich fantasy world, to a devoted Latter-day Saint who gave his all only to feel betrayed by his leaders. Young warned one dissenting group that they were "not playing with shadows," but with "the voice and the hand of the Almighty"; accordingly, many dissenters feared for their livelihoods, and some, for their lives.

Historians will value the range of beliefs, opinions, complaints, hopes, and fears expressed in these carefully annotated life histories. An antidote to anti-Mormon sensationalism, these detailed chronicles of deeply personal journeys add subtlety and a human dimension to our understanding of the Mormon past.