Mormon History in the 20th century can be a bit tougher to do since much of the data (journals, meeting minutes) are often kept in some safe place (like a church safe or family holdings) until the person or people of interest are long dead and beyond concern of historians telling their tales Greg Prince’s biography of David O. McKay is such an instance when a treasure trove of journals was made available and interested investigators had the time and energy to comb through those mountains of primary documents to offer us, the Mormon History enthusiast, a well done summary of the church leadership under David O McKay’s tenure as prophet and president of the church.

TL/DR: In this ninth installment of “Top Ten Books on Mormon History,” Ben and I discuss an extensive case study of how the top church leaders interact with each other and outside interests (during McKay’s presidency), David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism

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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