Mormon America is a well-written, broad description of the LDS Church, its history, its doctrines, and its members. It is also the first quality work on this subject I have seen from non-Mormons that is written for a general audience (Jan Shipps is also good, but writes at a different level). I am myself an active member of the LDS Church, returned missionary, and BYU graduate. I enjoyed the accounts of the elders at work in New York, of the LDS families working to live their religion, and of the new converts embracing the Church, finding in these accounts much that matches my own experiences in the Church.
There are a number of minor errors, but overall I was pleasantly surprised at the accuracy of this work. The Ostlings have obviously dedicated countless hours to research and interviews, and constructed their book with meticulous care. I would recommend it to anyone unacquainted with the LDS faith that wishes to know more about us.
Naturally, the Ostlings do not shy away from controversial topics, the inclusion of which in this book will no doubt upset some Church members. They also seem to feel an obligation to present both the positive and negative aspects of the faith as they see them. They are, after all, both non-LDS and journalists. I am convinced that their book represents their honest attempt at a neutral assesment of the Latter-day Saint religion and its importance in the modern world. There is much here for readers to appreciate, whether or not they share the authors' attitudes toward the Church.
In any work of such broad scope, most readers will question the emphasis given some material and the omission of other pertinent information (for myself, I wonder why S-F writer Orson Scott Card's name does not appear in the chapter on LDS celebrities). Nevertheless, Mormon America is most remarkable, in my opinion, for all that it does cover. Readers from outside the LDS Church, in particular, will find many, if not most, of their basic questions about the faith answered in this volume.
A glance at the religion shelves of the local bookstore tends to show a few how-to-witness-to- the-Mormons books, a couple of specialized volumes on Mormon history, and maybe a few by LDS leaders and scholars. A general book on the Church by non-LDS authors, one that neither attempts to promote nor denigrate the faith, has been sorely wanting. Mormon America fills this niche admirably. It is considerably better than I would have expected for the first major work of this kind, and will be welcome reading for those beginning a study of the Mormon religion.