Charismatic and a polished public speaker, LDS President David O. McKay instilled devotion in church members around the globe. An avowed optimist, he maintained a lifelong “faith in mankind; they are God’s children.” His desire to share the Mormon gospel coincided with a deep need to protect the church from outside social pressures, leading him to adopt a nuanced yet politically conservative public image. Though his genial personality aided him in unifying church leadership, McKay’s dislike of interpersonal conflict allowed strong-willed colleagues to sometimes overshadow him. He personally disagreed with apostle Ezra Taft Benson’s advocacy for the right-wing John Birch Society, while allowing Benson and others to promote an extremely conservative political agenda in religious settings.
Similar hesitancy existed in McKay’s failure to lift the priesthood and temple ban against black Mormons. Governing during the height of the Civil Rights movement, he never fully reconciled his belief in human spiritual equality with the racial tensions of his era. The voice of his dedicated secretary Clare Middlemiss often guides the diary’s narratives, revealing not only the personal musings of the church prophet but tracking the birth and development of the modern LDS Church as a social, political, and economic entity.
Ordained as an apostle in 1906, David O. McKay served as president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1951 until his death in 1970. Under his leadership, the church experienced unparalleled growth—nearly tripling in total membership—and becoming a significant presence throughout the world.
The first book to draw upon the David O. McKay Papers at the J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah, in addition to some two hundred interviews conducted by the authors, David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism focuses primarily on the years of McKay's presidency. During some of the most turbulent times in American and world history, McKay navigated the church through uncharted waters as it faced the challenges of worldwide growth in an age of communism, the civil rights movement, and ecumenism. Gregory Prince and Robert Wright have compiled a thorough history of the presidency of a much-loved prophet who left a lasting legacy within the LDS Church.
Winner of the Evans Handcart Award.
Winner of the Mormon History Association Turner-Bergera Best Biography Award.
In 1920, David O. McKay embarked on a journey that forever changed the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His visits to the Latter-day Saint missions, schools, and branches in the Pacific solidified the Church leadership's commitment to global outreach. As importantly, the trip inspired McKay's own initiatives when he later became Church president. McKay's account of his odyssey brings to life the story of the Church of Jesus Christ’s transformation into a global faith. Throughout his diary, McKay expressed his humanity, curiosity, and fascination with cultures and places--the Maori hongi, East Asian customs, Australian wildlife, and more. At the same time, he and his travel companion, Hugh J. Cannon, detailed the Latter-day Saint missionary life of the era, closely observing logistical challenges and cultural differences, guiding various church efforts, and listening to followers' impressions and concerns. Reid L. Neilson and Carson V. Teuscher's meticulous notes provide historical, religious, and general context for the reader.Blending travelogue with history, Pacific Apostle illuminates the thought and work of an essential figure in the twentieth-century Church of Jesus Christ.