As this week's online essay, go read D. Michael Quinn's "LDS Church Authority and New Plural Marriages, 1890-1904," Dialogue, Vol. 18, No. 1 (Spring 1985):9-105. The link is to the copy of the article at Dialogue's archive reader, which I don't find particularly easy to use, but at least it's all online and it's free. Can't really argue with that, can you? A little subtraction will tell you the article is 96 pages long, which sounds imposing. But half of that is footnotes and the article itself is not difficult reading. It's not like 96 pages of RSR. After I finish the article myself I might come back and add a longer discussion to this post. Until then, here's an excerpt (from p. 15 of the article) explaining why it so tough to really get a handle on the LDS doctrine and practice of plural marriage:
The 1890-1904 period is only the middle section in a complex history of plural marriage among the Latter-day Sainst from 1830 to the present. Understanding this history is complicated by illegality of plural marriage, by the resulting secrecy connected with its practice, by the fact that polygamy has been the center of a sectarian battleground throughout Mormonism's history, and finally by the problem of the meaning and application of "truth" in Mormon theology and practice as they relate to plural marriage.