Hi, my name is Russ. Yes, this blog might be another one of the crowd. But not if I have anything to say about it.
I just finished working at the Church History Library. I handled Brigham Young’s diaries, documents, and letters on a daily basis. I do have an axe to grind (why else would people blog?). I have no sympathy with either those who seek to tear the Church down or those who seek to cover our history up. Most of all, I want the Saints to feel secure in studying their history. It’s not scary, gutsy, or “apostate.” This is our story. It’s there, and we can own it. I love our people in the great times and in the shameful times. “The spirit of love casteth out all fear.”
So for my first book recommendation of the week: Massacre at Mountain Meadows
This is (and ought to be) a harrowing episode in our history. It raises fundamental questions about war, the relationship between our individual moral compass and priesthood authority, and our tendency to “follow the crowd.”
The authors (two of them were/are full-time Church employees) worked very closely with the Church in publishing this book. They were given unprecedented access to the archives (including the First Presidency vault) and tremendous editorial license. They said that they were willing to implicate Brigham Young, if that’s where the evidence led. I’ve read, analyzed, and cited many of the actual documents they reference in the book. It’s reasonably-sized (250-300 pages) If you’re going to read one book on the topic, this is the book to read. Even my mother (who is an Anita Stansfield fan) read this book and found it fulfilling.