Joseph Smith was not the first to found a Christian denomination, but his addition of a new book of scripture on par with the Bible set him and his movement apart. Even before 1830, Smith was both dismissed and admired, embraced and rejected. But most observers agree that he has rightfully earned a significant place in American religious history. Many of the followers he attracted in his day and after have also helped to shape LDS thought. This volume highlights the lives and contributions of Smith, his successor Brigham Young, and eleven others, including Lowell Bennion, Claudia L. Bushman, Hugh Nibley, Chieko Okazaki, B. H. Roberts, James E. Talmage, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, and Emmeline B. Wells. All together, the women and men profiled here span the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and illuminate what the LDS Church has meant, and continues to mean, to its most thoughtful members.
Unlike most Mormon histories, Saints without Halos is a treatment of the human, rather than institutional side of Mormon history. Through the fascinating experiences of seventeen Latter-day Saints, Leonard J. Arrington and Davis Bitton sketch Mormonism from its earliest beginnings to modern times. These are Saints presented not as objects of veneration, but as "human beings who, like the rest of us, struggle to be worthy of the title Latter-day Saint." Two were apostles. One was an enthusiastic supporter and friend of Joseph Smith, who eventually left the main body of the Church to lead his own band to Texas. The other was a link in the chain of a renowned Mormon family whose positions in the leading councils of the Church span virtually the entire history of Mormonism. The other fifteen individuals, except for one colorful non-Mormon advocate, are "ordinary" Latter-day Saints-faithful members who helped realize the vision of their prophetic leaders: a personal friend of Joseph Smith, missionaries and converts, a plural wife, an Indian woman, a widowed immigrant, pioneers and philosophers, bishops and blacksmiths, and even a historian. In this book, the authors of The Mormon Experience draw on their vast knowledge of Mormon diaries and other first-hand accounts to disclose the rich diversity of Mormonism as well as its unity of purpose.