While Ulrich creates an absorbing history of intimate lives, individuals’ religious passions and acceptance of polygamy...

A HOUSE FULL OF FEMALES

PLURAL MARRIAGE AND WOMEN'S RIGHTS IN EARLY MORMONISM, 1835-1870

A Pulitzer Prize–winning historian investigates women’s power and agency within the early Mormon community.

Ulrich (History/Harvard Univ.; Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History, 2007, etc.), a MacArthur Fellow whose previous subjects have included colonial wives and early American midwives, has a personal investment in this deeply researched, well-informed history of marriage and family life among 19th-century Mormons: her eight great-grandparents and four great-great-grandparents migrated to Utah before 1860, and she grew up knowing that their stories included polygamy. Drawing on a rich trove of diaries and letters, the author follows many Mormon families as they confronted poverty, illness, privations, and persecution in their quest to establish a community where they could practice their faith and enact their social vision. She traces their journeys, beginning in 1835, from Ohio to Illinois, across the muddy flats of Iowa, to Nebraska, and finally, in 1850, to Salt Lake City. Plural marriage set the Latter-day Saints apart from many other sects eager to create an earthly utopia, and it stands as a puzzle that Ulrich can only partially explain. Some biographers accuse Mormon founder Joseph Smith of promoting the practice “to justify illicit relations with vulnerable young women,” and Ulrich concedes, “there is some evidence to support that assumption.” Smith and his successor, Brigham Young, both having multiple wives, defended polygamy as sanctioned by the Bible. Although some found it repugnant, many men took several wives, and women entered freely into those alliances. Some women saw marriage to a church leader as a path “to an elite inner circle.” Not surprisingly, though, polygamy “generated conflict and gossip,” anger and yearning. Besides considering the emotional toll of plural marriage, Ulrich questions the spiritual needs—and desire for authoritarian leadership— that drew adherents to Mormonism and sustained their faith even under extreme duress. The trek west was marked by graves.

While Ulrich creates an absorbing history of intimate lives, individuals’ religious passions and acceptance of polygamy remain mysterious.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-307-59490-7

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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