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I'm looking forward to this book and to see how it compares to past discussions of the era.

This is an excellent review, thanks Dave. Was this the book that Compton was working on as well?

I am not very familiar with the Missouri wars (btw, to bad Patten died, he is the source for some of the most interested Mormon folk lore. Had he lived perhaps we could have gotten a confirmation or denial!), but it seems to me that both the Nauvoo and the Utah militias (under the direction of Church leaders) when faced with the potential of war didn't execute. There was no Nauvoo war and the Utah war was posturing for the most part.

J., I believe the co-authors on the upcoming book are Susan Easton Black and Donald Cannon.

I just finished reading a book detailing the US efforts during the War of 1812.

I think most Americans underestimate the extent to which everything east of the Atlantic seaboard in the early to mid 1800s was, quite simply, a horrible unregulated mess.

Many assumptions we have about what constitutes civil society just didn't apply back then.

Realize that in 1812 (around when Joseph Smith born), white settlers were still being massacred by powerful indian tribes (often at the encouragement of British fur traders/spies). If you wanted protection in those days, you did it with your own rifle. And this was in Ohio!

The population of Ohio today rarely associates itself with this kind of lawlessness and violence. That image is reserved for Wyoming and California, and other such places that constitute the "old West."

The main problem is that the period following the Revolutionary War, yet preceeding the Civil War, is very poorly covered by most K-12 history curricula.

This is mainly because the whole period was largely one of failures. We had that shining national success of the Revolution. Then there was the heroic epic of the Civil War, followed by equally epic expansion into the western US (glamorized by moviemaker Ford).

But that period between the Revolution and the Civil War?

Well, no one wants to talk about THAT. Except the Mormons ...

And that's just where our historical problem lies.

Our glory days, our founding, our epics, all occurred smack dab in the middle of a period the rest of America is trying mighty hard to forget.

So when Mormon history is discussed among the gentiles, it is almost always discussed without reference to the uncomfortable larger period of US failure that surrounded it.

The result is that Mormon history inevitably gets compared to the best moments in US history. And we look like monsters.

Just looked it up. Joseph was born in 1805.

Seth, I agree it's hard for present-day Americans to get a handle on what America was like in the pre-Civil War years. The growing conflict over slavery sort of crowds out other plot lines. If Mormons have a hard time getting the historical drift of the times in that era, it is even harder for others (who sympathize with no actors of that era) to do so.

I think slavery is something of an exception. The rule is that we ignore the unflattering moments in US history.

Slavery is a special case due to the unique politics surrounding it. It also has a large and vocal advocacy group ensuring that we don't forget about it (much as many Americans would like to).

If it weren't for slavery, I doubt there'd be any study of this time period at all.

I tell ya, on a personal note, I'm glad to be here in the heart of Mormonism for at least one reason and that is that every home has guns and ammunition and despite our peacefulness, if somebody invaded Utah, they'd have a fight on their hands.

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