I've been neglecting book notes and reviews lately--time to get back to basics. I've set up a Mormon Classics list (abbreviated to Mo Classics so the title fits on one line, I'm just picky about that kind of thing) to display the primary Mormon Studies books as I read them or, for those I've read already, as I dig up a copy to review. I'm going to post capsule reviews (like 40 words long) under the thumbnail book cover on the left sidebar. If I have more to say (fairly likely, I suppose) I'll put it in a post. Here's my 31-word review of Marvin Hill's Quest For Refuge (Signature, 1989):
Hill chronicles the failed Mormon quest for a self-governing religious kingdom. Mormon militarism, patriarchal religion, and bloc voting eventually stirred violent opposition that removed Joseph and sent the Mormons into exile.
The book covers "the Joseph period" in Mormon history, highlighting Mormon attempts to secure an increasing measure of self-government for the growing Mormon community. Missouri was a mess, both the first try in Jackson County and the second try in Far West, but Nauvoo thrived for a season, ironically thanks in part to John C. Bennett's successful effort to get the Nauvoo Charter through the Illinois legislature. But the same cycle of opposition and violence soon emerged in Illinois.
Amazingly, Brigham Young repeated the cycle one more time in Utah before senior leaders finally abandoned the quest for political autonomy and joined pluralist America, but that's beyond the coverage of Hill's book. He originally wrote it as his dissertation at Chicago in the sixties, then later updated it into book form with the encouragement of his publisher. I had always thought it dated from the mid-70s--I was rather surprised to see it was published as recently as 1989. This book is Hill's best-known work, a fine memorial for a talented scholar who left the scene before his time.