A study of the pioneer years of the Mormon Church centering around the author's grandfather, John Taylor, a church leader with almost as much charisma as the Latter-day Saints' founders and considerably more humor. An English cooper by origin who carried a bullet in his leg until his death in 1887, Taylor also had organizing ability; he managed the survival of starving pioneers, the seeming peculations of his presidential predecessor, Brigham Young, and his own seventeen official wives (including a converted Jewish musician who froze to death before reaching Utah). Taylor's Salt Lake regime encouraged ""freedom of thought and spirit"" as well as beet sugar factories and agricultural prosperity; but, driven underground by federal harassment, Taylor expired with no assurance that Zion would prevail. Combining sophisticated detachment and scholarly enthusiasm, the book reconstructs the pragmatic strengths, spiritual passions, and internal intrigues of an important sect along with the canniness and perseverance of Taylor himself. A notable examination of a subject neglected by non-Church historians.