Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bigelow and Langford, "The Latter-Day Saint Family Encyclopedia" (reviewed by Reed Russell)


Title:  The Latter-Day Saint Family Encyclopedia
Author:  Christopher K. Bigelow and Jonathan Langford (edited by Don L.
Publisher:  Thunder Bay Press
Genre:  Reference
Year Published:  2010
Number of Pages:  400
Binding:  Trade Cloth - Jacketed HC
ISBN10:  1-60710-111-4
ISBN13:  978-1-60710-111-6
Price:  34.95

Reviewed by Reed Russell for the Association for Mormon Letters

The first thing the reader will notice upon perusal of this encyclopedia is what a good‐looking book it is.  This large format volume is generously illustrated with over 300 color photographs, maps and works of art reproduced in very rich (almost too rich) color on coated paper with a faux parchment look.  The cross‐referencing of all entries to each other is extremely handy and thorough ‐ making this new volume a most accessible reference book.

The Latter‐Day Saint Family Encyclopedia is published by the Thunder Bay Press (an imprint of the Baker & Taylor Publishing Group.) Although the Thunder Bay Press has published a variety of titles from Frank Lloyd Wright in Pop‐Up to books on the Civil War, they have published only three books in the religion category ‐ all of which are LDS‐themed.  The other two are Temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‐Day Saints by Christopher K.  Bigelow and Timeline History of Mormonism: From Premortality to the Present by Christopher K.  Bigelow and Jana Riess.

An A to Z arrangement of topics includes beliefs and ordinances, key doctrinal terms, individual biographical sketches of LDS prophets, apostles and other historical figures, and historical maps.  (One minor inconsistency of the volume is the inclusion of attractive full‐color maps for some states and not for others.) One interesting feature built into various entries of the book is a short "How‐To Outline" for LDS ordinances and blessings.  It was refreshing to see some topics covered which are not included in the 4‐volume Encyclopedia of Mormonism.  Just a few examples include Cosmology, Emeritus Status, Walker War, Conscience, Elijah Abel, Name Removal and Treasure Hunting and Magic.

Another example of the comprehensiveness of this encyclopedia is illustrated by the seven different entries that involve "Deseret" ‐ Deseret, Deseret Alphabet, Deseret Book Company, Deseret Industries, Deseret Management Corporation, Deseret News and State of Deseret.

While many of the entries are two or three paragraphs long, there are many extra‐long entries.  A few examples include Politics, Joseph Smith, Polygamy and each of the standard works of the church.  Two of these extended entries of interest to the Mormon Letters crowd are one on Periodicals and one on Mormon Literature.

The Periodicals entry includes separate charts for Early Periodicals, Pro‐Polygamy Periodicals, Mission Periodicals, Auxiliary Organization Publications, Academic and Intellectual Publications and Current Church Periodicals.  Each chart includes Title, Time Span, Founding Editor, Publisher or Organization and Place.  The entry on Mormon Literature is broken down into Biography, autobiography and personal writing; Novels and short stories; Drama and cinema; Poetry; and Literary criticism.

In this internet‐driven age of information, it's a real challenge to produce an encyclopedia of any sort.  Bigelow and Langford, by keeping such a broad array of entries short, fresh and informative, have succeeded in compiling a very engaging volume appropriate not only for the whole family but for member and non‐member alike.  They are to be congratulated for providing such a valuable household resource.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on such a huge undertaking!!