Playing with Shadows: Voices of Dissent in the Mormon West
Norman: Arthur H. Clark Company, 2011. First Edition. 518pp. Octavo [24.5 cm] Blue cloth with the title silver stamped on the front board and backstrip. Near fine. Item #4697
Signed by all three editors on the half-title. Volume 13 in the ambitious and well received 'Kingdom in the West' series. 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. Clark & Brunet 12.