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There are so many good books to read regarding LDS issues. Here are some we especially liked:
The Story of the Mormons From the Date of their Origin to the Year 1901, William Alexander Linn. Although the book can be ordered through Amazon, this book is available to be read free online.
MormonThink Review: I read this book online. It's a nice, historical narrative of the early LDS Church that goes into a fair amount of detail but is still easy to read. This book goes largely unnoticed by most truthseekers but worth the read.
By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus, Charles Larson. Although the book can be ordered through Amazon, the text is available online but it's worth it to get a hard copy for the great color photographs of the papyri that are not available in the online edition. Also, members of the LDS Church can get the book by only paying $5.00 shipping cost by going to http://irr.org/mit/bhoh-order.html.
MormonThink Review: This is still the best and most objective look at the Book of Abraham issue and very easy to read. It's one of the best LDS books we've read. It was the very first book that I personally bought that made me question the church's truth claims. It is a companion to the video that also features the author Charles Larson: The Lost Book of Abraham. Here's another more personal video made by the author on his experiences with joining the LDS church: Charles Larson youtube video.
No Man Knows My History by Fawn Brodie. Although the book can be ordered through Amazon, this book has been around a long time (but updated through the years) it can found in many public libraries so you likely won't have to buy it to read it.
MormonThink Review: This book, written by Fawn Brodie, President David O'McKay's niece, is one of the first really 'modern' books discussing the problems of the Joseph Smith story. Although it can be damaging to people's faith, Brodie also often praises Joseph and I personally know some faithful LDS who were not troubled by what was in the book and how it was presented.
List of More Free Books: http://www.utlm.org/navonlinebooks.htm
An Insider's View of Mormon Origins by Grant Palmer. Published in 2002 and available at Amazon. It was sold at Deseret Books for several years and is still available there by special order. It's also still sold at the BYU bookstore.
Summary: Over the past thirty years, an enormous amount of research has been conducted into Mormon origins—Joseph Smith's early life, the Book of Mormon, the prophet's visions, and the restoration of priesthood authority. Longtime LDS educator Grant H. Palmer suggests that most Latter-day Saints remain unaware of the significance of these discoveries, and he gives a brief survey for anyone who has ever wanted to know more about these issues.
He finds that much of what we take for granted as literal history has been tailored over the years—slightly modified, added to, one aspect emphasized over another—to the point that the original narratives have been nearly lost. What was experienced as a spiritual or metaphysical event, something from a different dimension, often has been refashioned as if it were a physical, objective occurrence. This is not how the first Saints interpreted these events. Historians who have looked closer at the foundational stories and source documents have restored elements, including a nineteenth-century world view, that have been misunderstood, if not forgotten.
MormonThink review: This is one of the first books I read on Mormonism not published by the church and it is still my favorite. It was written by a Church Education System instructor with 34 years service with CES.
Excerpt: Excerpt from An insider's View
Reviews: Several scholarly reviews of An Insider's View
Response to FARM's critical review: A Reply to FARMS and the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute
Notes: on the "Golden Pot" Chapter. This is the most original and perhaps controversial chapter in An Insider's View.
Standing for Something More. Published in 2009 by Lyndon Lamborn. Available now at Amazon.
MormonThink Review: I just finished reading Lyndon Lamborn's book Standing for Something More. I really liked the book. The author has a very nice tone in his writings. This is not an ‘anti-Mormon’ book by someone with an axe to grind against Mormonism but rather tells the true story of one man’s very interesting experiences with the Mormon Church.
The Mormon books written by former members have really been lacking a psychological examination of why intelligent people remain in the LDS Church after finding out many things that indicate that the church may not be what it claims to be. I found it particularly useful as I am an active Latter-day Saint.
I like that he alternates chapters detailing the psychology implications of church membership with his own personal story. I haven't seen the emotional and psychological aspects of membership in the Mormon Church presented in a simple, clear, concise manner before as Lyndon does.
Also it's not written in a critical manner but Lyndon is very honest and not hiding anything that he did or that the church has done. The book does list some serious problems with Mormonism which he describes in a very intelligent manner that may make a believer rethink his beliefs. Mainstream Christianity is also touched on in a constructive manner as he explored that option when he left Mormonism. Basically it's just not the same old ex-Mormon stuff. It’s a needed fresh look into Mormonism in the 21st Century.
An American Fraud: One Lawyer's Case against Mormonism by Kay Burningham
Here's a new Mormon book taking a completely new angle on the question of whether or not there is sufficient justification to warrant legal action against the LDS Church. We find the premise fascinating.
MormonThink Review: For several reasons, I enjoyed reading Kay Burningham's book, "An American Fraud: One Lawyer's Case against Mormonism". I was also raised as a stalwart Mormon in Bountiful, Utah, attended Bountiful High School, and indeed, had a drama class from Kay's uncle, Kim Burningham. I have never met Kay, so it was interesting to read her book and discover how much we have in common.
Since I am also female, I appreciated her insights from a feminine perspective, which parallel some of my own experiences in Mormonism, and which I haven't read in any previous book.
I learned from Kay's legal viewpoints, especially those in the Appendix. Her legal training showed a new slant for me that I hadn't run across before. She clearly expresses the value of evidence in making judgments, and she lays out that evidence with copious documentation. This was my favorite part of the book, the last two-thirds where she provides the documented evidence on the Book of Mormon and science, Joseph Smith's method of translation, Book of Abraham, Blacks and the Priesthood, polyandry and polygamy and misogyny, First Vision, and so much more.
Kay's honesty and authenticity are very apparent, and her clarity of expression made this book an interesting read. I would recommend this book as not only worthwhile, but also a fresh perspective on many issues.
Mormon Enigma by Linda King Newell & Valeen Tippetts Avery.
Avery and Newell's 1984 bio of Emma Smith was referenced quite favorably in the Ensign pre-publication and they were both invited by church groups, particularly Relief Society groups, to give firesides and presentations on their work in church. Then some time after the book was actually published, all of the invitations stopped rather suddenly. Upon investigating, the authors learned that a letter was sent from church headquarters instructing wards and stakes not to allow the authors to address any church group. I believe the two authors were also not to be allowed to speak in their own wards' sacrament meetings.
They were finally granted an audience with Dallin Oaks, who, according to them, gave as the reason for the ban this gem of a quote:
"My duty as a member of the Council of the Twelve is to protect what is most unique about the LDS church, namely the authority of priesthood, testimony regarding the restoration of the gospel, and the divine mission of the Savior. Everything may be sacrificed in order to maintain the integrity of those essential facts. Thus, if Mormon Enigma reveals information that is detrimental to the reputation of Joseph Smith, then it is necessary to try to limit its influence and that of its authors." (Linda King Newell, 1992 Sunstone Pacific Northwest Symposium, "The Biography of Emma Hale Smith".) The ban was lifted a few years later after quiet and persistent efforts by concerned parties behind the scene.
MormonThink review: Mormon Enigma is one of the books that was allowed to be read for class assignment at BYU when I attended there. It’s not dedicated to polygamy but deals with it quite a bit - mostly from Emma’s perspective. It's available at Deseret Books. Although it if a faithful book, it accurately describes some of the disturbing details of polygamy and mentions the Book of Mormon translation details that most members are unaware of. It's a fairly tame book and probably the best LDS book for members that only want a slight introduction to some of the more colorful aspects of Mormon history.
The Incomparable Jesus by Grant Palmer. Published in 2005 and available at Amazon.
Summary: Grant Palmer closed his thirty-four-year career teaching for the LDS Church Educational System with the final thirteen years as a chaplain and the LDS Institute director at the Salt Lake County Jail. Distilled from his personal and teaching experiences, this tender testament to the incomparable Jesus describes a Savior who walked the halls with him, succoring those in need.
In this slim volume, Palmer sensitively shares his understanding of what it means to know Jesus by doing his works. He lists the qualities of divine character attested to by the Apostles Peter and Paul, and also those that Jesus revealed about himself in his masterful Sermon on the Mount, particularly in the beatitudes.
With reverence Palmer shares personal spiritual experiences that were life-changing assurances of Jesus's love for him--a love poured out unstintingly in equally life-changing blessings on prisoners whose crimes have not stopped short of sexual abuse and murder. Reading this book offers deeper understanding of the Savior's mercy, a stronger sense of his love, and a deeper commitment to follow him.
Review: "This book reminds me why I am proud to be a Christian; and it makes me want to be a better one. This slender volume provides a better insight into the atonement than anything I have ever read. Grant Palmer has given us a timely gem of a book, one that is focused exclusively on the Savior" Dee Benson - Chief Judge, U.S. Federal District Court of Utah.
The Apostasy of a High Priest by Park Romney (Mitt Romney's 2nd cousin) in 2011.
Park B. Romney, of the Mormon Romney's, breaks a 5 year silence with this astounding retraction of his testimony of the divine authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more commonly known as the Mormon Church. Romney, a former High Priest of the Mormon Church, presents this poignant and challenging commentary on the sociology of the Mormon culture with inescapable questions about its doctrines. Groundbreaking by several accounts, it is a "must-read" for anyone interested in the social dynamics of one of the largest and most influential multinational conglomerates on the planet, the Mormon Church.
Park B. Romney, born in Spokane, Washington, in 1956 was ordained as High Priest in the Mormon Melchizedek priesthood in 1982. He served in two successive Mormon Bishoprics as “Counselor”, and as a member of a Stake Mission Presidency. He asked to have his name removed from the records of the Church in 2004, having concluded that he could no longer support the claims of the Church’s divine authority. He is the son of the former marriage of Milton C. Romney and Evelyn Brannock Romney. Milton C. Romney is the great grandson of Miles Park Romney, the Mormon polygamist who gained notoriety as a result of the Mitt Romney campaign for the presidency in 2008. Miles Park Romney was the son of Miles Romney who immigrated to Nauvoo, Illinois from Lancashire, England to join Joseph Smith’s community of Mormons as a result of the missionary efforts of Orson Hyde, an early Mormon apostle. Both Miles Romney and Miles Park Romney are celebrated for their prominent roles in the construction of Mormon temples.
Mormon Polygamy by Richard S. Van Wagoner is pretty much considered the definitive guide to understanding polygamy as practiced by the saints in the 19th century.
MormonThink review: I wanted to get a good book on polygamy and LDS historian Grant Palmer said that this was still the definitive guide on understanding Mormon polygamy. I read the book and was astounding but what I learned about polygamy and how the early saints really practiced it. It's a book I own and highly recommend.
Making of a Prophet by Dan Vogel.
MormonThink review: Vogel's biography on Joseph Smith is one of the best and most complete available. It is very-well researched and documented by the Mormon scholar Dan Vogel. I bought this book and love it. It is one of the most comprehensive books on Joseph Smith. Vogel explains in detail how Joseph's personal experiences are intertwined in every book of the Book of Mormon. Vogel clearly explains how a man like Joseph Smith may have written the BofM and why. It's a very lengthy book but perfect if you want to get more insights on Joseph's life and his personal connection with the Book of Mormon.
Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Bushman
Publisher's Weekly Review. How should a historian depict a man's life when that man, and his religion, remain a mystery to so many 200 years after his birth? Bushman, an emeritus professor at Columbia University and author of Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism, greatly expands on that previous work, filling in many details of the founding prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and carrying the story through to the end of Smith's life. Many continue to view Smith as an enigmatic and controversial figure. Bushman locates him in his historical and cultural context, fleshing out the many nuances of 19th-century American life that produced such a fertile ground for emerging religions. The author, a practicing Mormon, is aware that his book stands in the intersection of faith and scholarship, but does not avoid the problematic aspects of Smith's life and work, such as his practice of polygamy, his early attempts at treasure-seeking and his later political aspirations. In the end, Smith emerges as a genuine American phenomenon, a man driven by inspiration but not unaffected by his cultural context. This is a remarkable book, wonderfully readable and supported by exhaustive research. For anyone interested in the Mormon experience, it will be required reading for years to come.
Book of Mormon Book of Lies by Meredith Sheets & Kendal Sheets
This is a book written by non-members who have found many interesting things not mentioned by traditional Mormon critics such as citations in the Book of Mormon that appear to have be taken from such works as "The Travels of Marco Polo".
One of our contributors is currently reading this book and will comment further when he's done but so far he has provided favorable feedback on the book.
Summary: In Book of Mormon Book of Lies, the authors prove that scriptures and Mormon doctrine were plagiarized by Joseph Smith and his father from numerous stories from Asia, Arabia, Europe, and ancient Mexico. The primary source was The Travels of Marco Polo published in 1818. Other sources were Modern Traveller Arabia and another volume for Mexico published in 1825. The land, people, buildings, and location of Zarahemla were derived from descriptions of the Aztec empire combined with the Tartar empire. The copying was done so methodically that many names and stories can be found at the same relative locations in Marco Polo and The Book of Mormon. As proof of the involvement of Joseph Smith Jr., the reformed Egyptian “Caractors” on the gold plates he claimed to transcribe were actually copied from pagan runic symbols on a drawing from 1808 showing a Laplander’s magical kannus drum.
Examples of words taken from Marco Polo are: Camorah and Rama - Comari/Comorin and Ramah; Corom - Korum; Cumeni - Cumani; Gazalem - Ghazan; Laman/Alma - Lama; Leah - Leang; Manti - Manji; Melek - Melik; Paanchi - Panchin lama; Pahoran - Pharoan; Saraih - Kaisaraih; Toemner - Tiemour; Zemnarihah - Zennar; according to the words of Zenos - in the words of Apostolo Zeno. Names from other texts include Moron/Moroni - Pedro de Moron; Mosiah/Morianton - Moriah; Nephite - Nephtuim; Zemnarihah - Zemarites; Ziff - Ziph. The word Kolob in The Book of Abraham was copied directly from a page in Modern Traveller, Arabia describing a Christian convent on Mt. Sinai, “They are under the presidence of a Wakyl or prior, but the Ikonomos. . . whom the Arabs call the Kolob, is the true head of the community . . . .” Other names copied are Korash from Koreish, Kokoeuban from Kaukeban, and Manah from Mahmackrah.
Religious beliefs and doctrine of the Latter-day Saints, such as ordained polygamy, marriage of dead children, multiple gods, and spiritual ascension to become a god, were borrowed from the Shamanistic religion and civil practices of medieval Tartars as documented in Marco Polo. This is the reason the Mormon doctrine more closely resembles Eastern, not Western, traditional religious beliefs. On their website www.bookofmormonbookoflies.com the authors provide free downloadable files of the history books they used for their research.
Youtube: Interview with author Kendal Sheets
Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church, by Simon G. Southerton. Published in 2004 by Signature Books and available at Amazon. by Simon Southerton
Summary: The Book of Mormon narrates voyages to the Americas by ancient Israelites. The descendants of these ancient seafarers are said to be the tribes of Native Americans who were on hand to greet Columbus, the Spanish Conquistadors, and the Pilgrims. Israelites are also said to be the ancestors of the Polynesians.
Enter DNA. With the advent of molecular genealogy, scientists now have a tool to test hypotheses about Indian origins, previously based on skull shapes, blood types, linguistics, and cultural studies. By means of DNA genealogy, Native Americans have been traced to an area surrounding Lake Baikal in Siberia before their migration to the New World over 14,000 years ago. The evidence is definitive and unequivocal.
Explaining the scientific and theological issues in this debate is Dr. Simon Southerton, a molecular geneticist from Australia. He particularly responds to the issues raised by the BYU professors such as the implications of the mysterious lineage X, absent in Mesoamerica, and supposed anomalies in the genetic picture such as Kennewick Man and even the genetic history of the lowly sweet potato. Having been raised Mormon, Southerton knows the theological side of the issue as intimately as he knows the science.
MormonThink review: An Australian molecular scientist, Southerton has had extensive experience using the scientific model to prove – and disprove – various evolutionary theories. In Losing a Lost Tribe, he uses the conclusive evidence of both Native American and Polynesian DNA to expertly denounce both the LDS Church’s longstanding racist views and the poor attempts at science lauded by LDS apologists. While heavy on the science of human molecular genealogy and its myriad evidentiary proofs (couched in scientific terms), a scientific background is not required to understand his explanation of Asian exploration of the Pacific Islands and land-bridge crossings by Mongolians into North America. Southerton grounds his research in history, both molecular and church, and closes by condemning the tactics of apologists and the Brigham Young’s University in propagating intellectual repression and circular thinking. The science may be a bit overwhelming, but the conclusions are inescapable.
I’m (No Longer) a Mormon: a Confessional, by Regina Samuelson. Published in 2013 and available at Amazon.
MormonThink review: While Lyndon Lamborn and Park Romney have done an exceptional job of explaining the epistemology of the LDS faith and its cult-like effect on the human psyche, Regina Samuelson’s I’m (No Longer) a Mormon – a play on the “I’m a Mormon” ads – demonstrates the consequences of that epistemology. Her book is a journey into the mind of a born-in-the-church member who served actively and faithfully until she decided that her faith demanded as much scrutiny as any other belief system and discovered that things were not what they seemed. She is brave, candid, sometimes embarrassingly honest, hysterically funny, and utterly relatable to her audience, which includes anyone who has been severely indoctrinated into any faith, and anyone who seeks to understand those who have struggled with – and are emerging from – lifelong indoctrination.
Tell it All: the Story of a Life’s Experience in Mormonism, by Fanny Stenhouse. Foreward by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Originally published in 1875, reprinted by Applewood Books, and available at Amazon.
MormonThink review: For a woman who wrote about her experiences in Mormonism nearly 150 years ago, Fanny Stenhouse is a surprisingly relatable, approachable author. Her struggles with polygamy, the treatment of women in the LDS church, the church’s leadership and adherents, and the treatment of new converts are shocking, disturbing, and yet amazingly relevant to the experience of a large part of today’s membership. In Tell it All, Fanny is straightforward and outspoken, openly discussing her conversion, journey to Utah, entrance into polygamy, and decision to leave the church, and relates things about church history that truly boggle the mind, including sharing a letter from a dear friend who was part of the Martin Handcart Company that cannot fail to reduce the reader to tears. She is passionate and mighty, a true hero for disaffected members, feminists, and historians, and her work – and life – are inspiring.
The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Editon, by Robert Ritner
Summary: This book marks the publication of the first, full translation of the so-called Joseph Smith Egyptian papyri translated into English. These papyri comprise “The Breathing Permit of Hor,” “The Book of the Dead of Ta-Sherit-Min,” “The Book of the Dead Chapter 125 of Nefer-ir-nebu,” “The Book of the Dead of Amenhotep,” and “The Hypocephalus of Sheshonq,” as well as some loose fragments and patches. The papyri were acquired by members of the LDS Church in the 1830s in Kirtland, Ohio, and rediscovered in the mid-1960s in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. They served as the basis for Joseph Smith’s “Book of Abraham,” published in Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1842 and later canonized.
As Robert K. Ritner, Professor of Egyptology at the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, explains: “The translation and publication of the Smith papyri must be accessible not merely to Egyptologists but to non-specialists within and outside of the LDS religious community for whom the Book of Abraham was produced.” Dr. Ritner provides not only his own original translations but gives variant translations by other researchers to demonstrate better the “evolving process” of decipherment. He also includes specialized transliterations and his own informed commentary on the accuracy of past readings. “These assessments,” he notes, “are neither equivocal nor muted.” At the same time, they do not have a “partisan basis originating in any religious camp.”
The present volume includes insightful introductory essays by noted scholars Christopher Woods, Associate Professor of Sumerology, University of Chicago (“The Practice of Egyptian Religion at ‘Ur of the Chaldees’”), Marc Coenen, Egyptian Studies Ph. D., University of Leuven, Belgium (“The Ownership and Dating of Certain Joseph Smith Papyri”), and H. Michael Marquardt, author of The Revelations of Joseph Smith: Text and Commentary (“Joseph Smith’s Egyptian Papers: A History”). It contains twenty-eight photographic plates, including color images of the primary papyri (with corrected alignment for Papyrus Joseph Smith 2) and other relevant items.
The Tanner's Bookstore in Utah was, for a long time, the only place to obtain critical information about Mormonism. The reality is that perhaps the majority of information from every critic's site, as well as sites like MormonThink, owe their information to Gerald and Sandra Tanner and the work they pioneered in uncovering and documenting the secrets of Mormonism. Their bookstore is the only actual brick & mortar bookstore that is devoted to exposing all the detailed information about Mormonism that is not openly taught by the LDS Church. Their website bookstore is http://www.utlm.org/navbooklist.htm
Mormonism - Shadow or Reality by Jerald & Sandra Tanner
MormonThink Review: This is a great book to have on your bookshelf. You can look up just about any significant issue in Mormonism from this one resource. It is perhaps their biggest and most comprehensive book and one that any of us personally owns and is one of the cornerstones needed to understand the troubling issues of Mormonism:
Here's a site that reviews many LDS books
List of many LDS books