A New History of Mormonism
by Benjamin E. Park
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Pub Date 16 Jan 2024 | Archive Date 31 Dec 2023
W. W. Norton & Company, Liveright
The first major history of Mormonism in a decade, drawing on newly available sources to reveal a profoundly divided faith that has nevertheless shaped the nation.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was founded by Joseph Smith in 1830 in the so-called burned-over district of western New York, which seemed to produce seers and prophets daily. Most of the new creeds flamed out; Smith’s would endure. How Mormonism succeeded—and how it has fundamentally shaped American culture—is the story told by historian Benjamin Park in American Zion. While most prior accounts of the Mormons treat them as a monoculture existing outside the main currents of American life, Park is one of the first to demonstrate that Mormonism became central to American views of religious liberty and minority rights—and that Mormonism has been riven by deep internal divisions over gender, race, and sexuality. An enthralling narrative account of this nation’s most important homegrown religion, American Zion will be seen as the definitive history of Mormonism for years to come.
About the Author: Benjamin E. Park is associate professor of history at Sam Houston State University. The author of American Nationalisms and Kingdom of Nauvoo, he has written for the Washington Post, Newsweek, and Houston Chronicle.
"With enviable ease, Benjamin Park somehow manages to pack two centuries of Mormon history into a riveting narrative that is as smart as it is engrossing. Distinguished by its colorful cast of characters, rich historical detail, and elegant analysis, American Zion promises to stand the test of time as the definitive history of Mormonism in America." - Kristin Du Mez, New York Times bestselling author of Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation
"As Ben Park makes abundantly clear in this engaging history, the Mormon?faith is fundamentally an American one. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been repeatedly transformed by the cultural wars that have raged in this nation and has, in return, transformed the nation. Deeply researched and deftly written,?American Zion?is a must read." - Kevin M. Kruse, New York Times bestselling co-author of Myth America: Historians Take On the Biggest Legends and Lies About Our Past
"Mormonism is no more a monolith than the country that gave it birth and has shaped the religion throughout its two-century history. In Benjamin Park’s spirited telling we encounter a story full of drama, irony, conflict, and the ongoing search for meaning and community.? Readers will discover in American Zion?a fascinating history resonant with our current era of cultural contestation." - Patrick Mason, Leonard J. Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture, Utah State University