Cover image for Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith
Remini, Robert V. (Robert Vincent), 1921-2013.
Publication Information:
New York : Lipper/Viking, [2002]

Physical Description:
xv, 190 pages ; 20 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BX8695.S6 R46 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Robert Remini's work on the Jacksonian epoch has won him acclaim as well as the National Book Award. In Joseph Smith , he employs his keen insight and rich storytelling gift to explore one of the period's major figures. The most important reformer and innovator in American religious history, Joseph Smith has remained a fascinating enigma to many both inside and outside the Mormon Church he founded.

Born in 1805, Smith grew up during the "Second Great Awakening," when secular tumult had spawned radical religious fervor and countless new sects. His contemplative nature and soaring imagination--the first of his many visions occurred at the age of fourteen--were nurtured in the close, loving family created by his deeply devout parents. His need to lead and be recognized was met by his mission as God's vehicle for a new faith and by the hundreds who, magnetized by his charm and charismatic preaching, gave rise to the Mormon Church. Remini brings Smith into unprecedented focus and contextualizes his enduring contribution to American life and culture within the distinctive characteristics of an extraordinary age.

Author Notes

Robert V. Remini, professor emeritus of history & the humanities at the University of Illinois at Chicago, won the National Book Award for his three-volume biography of Andrew Jackson. He is the author of numerous books on American history, including "The Battle of New Orleans" & biographies of Henry Clay & Daniel Webster.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Whatever one believes about the Book of Mormon--the true word of God to its adherents; an incredible fraud to skeptics--its recipient, Joseph Smith Jr., was one of the most successful religious figures in American history, as his legacy of the thriving Mormon Church attests. There's no one better informed to explain why than Remini, the preeminent historian of the Age of Jackson. Meticulously eschewing judgments about the likeliness of Smith's claims, Remini provocatively surveys the social ground in which they took such productive root. In the 1820s, the displacements of westward migration were percolating, accompanied by Christian revivalism of an ecstatically millenarian variety. Smith was, therefore, not considered unusual in experiencing revelations, but his were unique for their drama and for declaring all other churches false. Naturally, this angered designated apostates and partially explains, as Remini narrates the Prophet's and his followers' subsequent flights to Missouri and Illinois, the hostility of those outside the charismatic community. A masterful, evenhanded precis that will engross history and religion readers alike. --Gilbert Taylor

Publisher's Weekly Review

This accessible biography by Remini, a historian whose three-volume biography of Andrew Jackson won the National Book Award, makes a fine contribution to the field of Mormon studies. Remini has an engaging writing style, as when he suggests that Joseph Smith's future father-in-law "roared his refusal" to his daughter's marrying the young upstart, or that the prophet's friend Sidney Rigdon was a "fire-breathing Mormon." The book is strongest when it contextualizes the Mormon story in the larger fabric of U.S. history in the first half of the 19th century. Not surprisingly, Remini speaks eloquently about the sea changes that characterized the Jacksonian age, and explores how Smith and early Mormonism benefited from and were also hurt by the spiritual and economic cataclysms of the era. Remini helps readers understand how specific events in Mormon history were related to larger trends and affairs; for example, he situates the collapse of the Mormon-owned Kirtland Bank in the larger rubric of the financial panic of 1837. Remini states at the outset that this biography does not seek to pass judgment on the authenticity of Smith's prophetic calling, and with only a few exceptions, he successfully holds that neutral stance. There are several scattered and minor errors; there was no subtitle on the first edition of the Book of Mormon, as Remini claims, and Brigham Young is believed to have had 27 wives for "time and all eternity," not 20. But these are very insignificant problems in a book noteworthy for its balanced tone and thorough scholarship. (Oct. 14) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved