Wilford Woodruff's Witness


A meticulous history of the early days of Mormonism.
Joseph Smith and Brigham Young tend to be the stars of stories about Mormonism’s founding, but Mackley’s debut focuses instead on one of their lesser-known contemporaries: Wilford Woodruff, an early and influential leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Drawing heavily from Woodruff’s journals as well as an extensive selection of other archival materials, Mackley paints a detailed picture of the first several decades of Mormonism. In particular, she focuses on the construction and uses of Mormon temples, describing the practices instituted there and how they changed over time. Some aspects of the story are of general interest; especially rich are Woodruff’s accounts of the Saints’ frequent clashes with the federal government over polygamy and their settling in Salt Lake City. History buffs will also appreciate the wealth of primary sources, including archival black-and-white photographs and documents often interspersed with the text as well as more than 100 pages of citations and appendices in the backmatter. Much of the book, however, requires some previous knowledge of—and preferably deep interest in—Mormonism, as the author herself cautions at the outset. In painstaking detail, Mackley relates the evolution of rites such as baptism and sealing ceremonies, and while interested parties may relish pondering the nuances, readers who aren’t familiar with the context will likely find the narrative impenetrable. What’s more, the accounts of Woodruff and his contemporaries refer to divine revelation as a simple fact of life, and Mackley makes no attempt to convert those readers who might raise an eyebrow at God’s communication. Of Joseph Smith, Mackley writes: “His understanding of God’s plan made clear that together with their descendants and ancestors, the Saints could be exalted and blessed with eternal increase, and eternal lives.” Such proclamations are common throughout the book, a perspective that could alienate nonbelievers. Still, as a feat of sheer research and historical synthesis, Mackley’s work is remarkable, providing deep insight into an obscure corner of the past.

Too specialized for the mainstream but with much to offer a niche readership.

Pub Date: May 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0615835327

Page Count: 454

Publisher: High Desert Publishing, LLC

Review Posted Online: July 11, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

Did you like this book?



Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

Did you like this book?