Last night at Miller-Eccles, I held in my hand a copy of On the Road With Joseph Smith, the pricey "Year in the Life" diary of Richard Bushman as he toured the country from mid-2005 to mid-2006 giving lectures on Rough Stone Rolling, his celebrated biography of Joseph Smith, Jr. And when I say pricey, I mean it: the limited printing of 100 went for $150 a piece and are reselling at a significant premium in the secondary market. Wow, I haven't paid that much for a book since ... college. Even so, a buck a page. That's enough to make anyone start keeping a journal.
There's a nice review of the book (which has some link to AML) here. And you can read the review for free! Here's a paragraph that describes On the Road:
This book is a diary kept by Bushman for about a year, from July 2005 until August 2006. During that time, the editorial work on Rough Stone Rolling was completed, the book was published, and Bushman traveled around the country to publicize it. The book was reviewed or ignored by church and national publications, and Bushman found acceptance and rejection from LDS and non-LDS readers. In the diary, Bushman describes his reactions to these events, and presents a look at how each of these events affected him.
Here's another review of the book from the Deseret News, calling it "a page turner."
The diary is possibly unparalleled — an author of a recent book candidly dissecting his experiences with both Mormon and non-Mormon audiences. ... This is no arrogant academic proclaiming his perfect product to the world. It is a humble, gentle man with whom we can identify, discussing feelings of anxiety, even panic and frustration over his performance at the podium and the answers he gave to difficult questions.
Not only did I view a copy of the book, I actually read two pages of it (that's about $2 worth of reading). Naturally, I read the entry on the presentation I attended, a Miller-Eccles function in November 2005. I wrote it up in two blog posts, Bushman on Mormon History and Joseph's Three Biggest Accomplishments. His comments in On the Road were, as I recall, that he enjoyed the warm reception and pleasant, engaging discussion at the two events. And he signed books (including my copy) for an hour after each talk. It will be a long time before another LDS book attracts the level of interest that RSR generated, even among the faithful.
As a bonus, the two pages I read also discussed Bushman's participation in the Times & Seasons roundtable review symposium on Rough Stone Rolling. He appeared to enjoy the online event and the lively exchanges with the reviewers.
If I ever get a chance to sneak in another $2 worth of reading from the book, I'll add it in a comment. If you want to buy a copy of RSR (it comes out in paperback for $12 next month), please do it via Amazon links at DMI (click the covers on the left sidebar) or through the DMI Bookstore. It helps pay the blog bills. And adds to my "buy a copy of On the Road" fund.
Oh, and this post kicks off a new feature: a Classic Post shown on my right sidebar, for which the first is one of the two posts from the above-mentioned presentations by Bushman in 2005. I'll reopen comments on the Classic Posts features while they are on the sidebar.
[Note: Edited 2-24 to eliminate reference to a second printing, retain reference to the upcoming softcover edition, and add a link and quotation from the Deseret News review of the book.]