Mormon History has many tools that can be used to gain insight to the past. On particularly useful tool in understanding people and institutions is the discipline of sociology. Armand Mauss used poll information, survey data, and his own notes taken while in attendance at church, as well as work from other sociologists interested in religion to produce The Angel and the Beehive: THE MORMON STRUGGLE WITH ASSIMILATION. It is in this work that the terms assimilation and retrenchment gain traction in the Mormon Intellectual communities provide new means to understand how the church adapts to the changing social landscape. Armand’s book is insightful, balanced, and quite objective in describing the changing church as well as in situating Mormon social conservatism in relation to other religious groups in the United States.

TL/DR: In this eighth installment of “Top Ten Books on Mormon History,” Ben and I discuss a classic that came on the heels of the September Six excommunications and analyzed the shifting views of institutional and grass-roots Mormonism in the 20th century, The Angel and the Beehive: THE MORMON STRUGGLE WITH ASSIMILATION

Other books and articles mentioned in the discussion:

Currently the BYU Studies site in undergoing maintenance. As soon as they have things fixed I’ll link to the following article:

Griffiths, Casey Paul. “The Chicago Experiment: Finding the Voice and Charting the Course of Religious Education in the Church.” BYU Studies 49 no. 4(2010): 91-130

Rethinking Retrenchment: Course Corrections in the Ongoing Campaign for Respectability

Mormons and the Bible: The Place of the Latter-day Saints in American Religion (Religion in America)

Seeking the Promised Land: Mormons and American Politics (Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion and Politics)

Top Ten Histories

Our “Top Ten Books on Mormon History” list was composed for someone new to Mormon History. The criteria for inclusion are the book’s demonstration of:

  • Use of a sophisticated academic approach and emphasis on analysis over merely regurgitating data and documents.
  • Coverage of an important person, event, or period in Mormon history
  • Quality of writing.
  • Length (not too long).

The List

  1. Matthew Bowman, The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith
    Release in March
  2. Richard Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling
    Release in April
  3. Ronald Walker et. al., Massacre at Mountain Meadows
    Release in May
  4. Sarah Barringer Gordon, The Mormon Question Polygamy and Constitutional Conflict in Nineteenth-Century America
    Release in June
  5. Kathryn Daynes, More Wives Than One: Transformation of the Mormon Marriage System, 1840-1910
    Release in July
  6. Paul Reeve, Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness
    Release in August
  7. Kathleen Flake, The Politics of American Religious Identity: The Seating of Senator Reed Smoot, Mormon Apostle
    Release in September
  8. Armand Mauss, The Angel and the Beehive: THE MORMON STRUGGLE WITH ASSIMILATION
    Release in October
  9. Prince & Wright, David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism
    Release in November
  10. Martha Bradley, Pedestals and Podiums: Utah Women, Religious Authority, and Equal Rights
    Release in December


Brian was born and raised in Northern Utah and is now working as a chemist in Ohio. He has one wife and three children. He currently serves as the ward hall monitor. He likes to eat good food, and build cool things.

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