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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Outstanding work from an outstanding scholar
This work will spark either extreme -- because Mormons are taught to view Brodie as the antichrist (I know -- i grew up as a mormon and left the church in adulthood). But Brodie also began the book as a devout mormon, and had access to the intimate holdings of the church before its wave of antihistorical paranoia set in about the time of her book! As an historian, I also...
Published on 12 Oct 1997

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars mormon history
this book wasn't what i expected i thought it would give more of an insight into mormonism not just about joseph smith
Published 6 months ago by thomas boyle


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Outstanding work from an outstanding scholar, 12 Oct 1997
By A Customer
This work will spark either extreme -- because Mormons are taught to view Brodie as the antichrist (I know -- i grew up as a mormon and left the church in adulthood). But Brodie also began the book as a devout mormon, and had access to the intimate holdings of the church before its wave of antihistorical paranoia set in about the time of her book! As an historian, I also see some flaws in her attribution and other methodological issues that historians can disagree with. But the picture she paints of the life of Joseph smith is fascinating, thought provoking and the book is a must-have for anyone interested in the subject.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent in the original. Later print may be edited!!, 8 Nov 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: No Man Knows My History (Vintage) (Paperback)
I grew up 20 miles from Palmyra NY and thought I knew about the Mormon Church, having written reports on it. Then in the '50's I lived 5 years in Salt Lake and knew Mrs Brodie's sister and brother-in-law. These girls were neices of David O MacKay, President of the Mormon Church, and after they served their "missions" in Switzerland, Fawn and Louise each married and Fawn attended the University of Chicage. We were told that Fawn had written the book as a disertation for the University of Chicago and her uncle had allowed her to use the church records for research. (Records not on display for the public.) As a result of her research, she lost her faith in the church and she and her sister and their husbands were what I would call excommunicated. I finally found the book to read in Rochester NY in 1960 by special order because it was not available in Utah and was out of print in other places. I'm happy it has been reprinted but I'll bet it isn't on bookstore shelves in Salt Lake City!!!!! Fawn Brodie has since died. She was a thourough researcher. Her Jefferson biography was well received and reviewed.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the first books I recommend reading about Morminism., 24 Aug 1996
By A Customer
This review is from: No Man Knows My History (Vintage) (Paperback)
I was a Mormon for 30 years so I feel I know what I'm
talking about.
Groundbreaking book about the life of Joseph Smith.
Traces his life both inside and outside of the church he
founded. Some of her conclusions (written in 1945) took
many years to be found correct.
A good book to start understanding Mormonism from both a
doctrinal and historical view.
Clint Lauricella
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A possible interpretation of Mormon origins., 27 Feb 2013
By 
Strangerbird (United Kingdom.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: No Man Knows My History (Vintage) (Paperback)
For a very long time the only biographies of Joseph Smith or of Mormonism were either hagiographic, or else deeply cynical depictions of the founder as a charlatan. Fawn Brodie changed all that in 1945 with her `No Man knows my History', which was a first serious attempt by a professional historian to understand the Mormon prophet within his context, and in a manner which did not depend on accepting his supernatural experiences in the terms in which they have been described by Smith and his followers. Committed Mormons may dispute much of the author's evidence as Hugh Nibley, famously did in `No Ma'am, That's not History', and people can argue till the cows come home about who is right and who isn't. But the important point is that Brodie's is the work of a historian which presents plausible possible ways of viewing Smith's life and work which is not dictated by the exigencies of Mormon proselytisation. For that reason Fawn Brodie produced what must be regarded as a seminal work. Opening up, as she did, a new and professional dimension to the study of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, led first to her excommunication and then to her depiction by the hierarchy as the Anti-Christ. When I first read the book over thirty years ago I must have read the 1945 edition. For the 1970 revision presents some information which is new to me, delving deeply into the Nauvoo period and the clandestine manner in which polygamy was introduced. Brodie writes elegantly and with a capacity to enthral the reader, at the same time reserving judgment on much that is unclear in a history of the frontier, befogged by lack of primary sources. It is essential material for anyone interested in the history of Mormonism and of the American west.
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2.0 out of 5 stars mormon history, 24 Feb 2014
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This review is from: No Man Knows My History (Vintage) (Paperback)
this book wasn't what i expected i thought it would give more of an insight into mormonism not just about joseph smith
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Insight To Joseph Smith and Early Mormonism, 7 Nov 2013
This review is from: No Man Knows My History (Vintage) (Paperback)
Let me be very clear here. Im not a Latter Day Saint but I have 100% respect for them. I regard them as good people and a pleasure to talk to. I read this book because it comes up in conversations when people try to "bash" Mormons. I have no interesting in "bashing" anybody but their religion fascinates me although I don't believe it.

I've read all the negative reviews about it being one sided and kept this in mind as I read it. I really don't see why anyone would think it one sided because all the evidence Brodie presents is footnoted, explaining where he got the information from (most of the times its from LDS own periodicals/books/pamphlets).
I think this is an excellent read and I was fully engrossed in reading it.

Some reviews on here say its written with prejudice but I disagree. Although the author obviously isn't a believer the whole point of the book is to point out all the inaccuracies, changes and errors that Joseph Smith and the book of Mormon made.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 14 April 2013
By 
Mr. Frank Bowness (Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: No Man Knows My History (Vintage) (Paperback)
Thought provoking book about a controversial figure. It really is puts the details in a fair and careful way without going over the top
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I couldn�t put the thing down, 30 April 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: No Man Knows My History (Vintage) (Paperback)
When I finished the book, I thought that if 10% of it was accurate, the Mormon church certainly wasn't what it claimed to be. The book is far from perfect, but don't take a Mormon's word for it when they claim that, "She tends to ignore information and resources that don't support her preconceived ideas". Although this statement may be partially true, the reality is that the conclusions of those who objectively study Joseph Smith are very different from those of true believing Mormons who "tend to ignore information and resources that don't support their preconceived ideas". More on this book can be found here:

[...]
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great synthesiser, 3 Dec 2011
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This review is from: No Man Knows My History (Vintage) (Paperback)
Professor Brodie's "No man knows my history, the life of Joseph Smith" - A body of work which is worthy of your attention and time, whether you're LDS or not and seeking meat not milk! THE Mormon faithful may turn their backs on this body of work, but it still remains one of the most faithful to Joe Smith Jnr's life and times.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that made me stay agnostic, 19 Dec 2010
Fawn Brodie's "No Man Knows My History" was first published in 1945. On various points of detail, it has been superseded by more recent research. Also, one can debate whether or not Brodie's psychological and hypercritical take on Joseph Smith is correct or methodologically meaningful. Still, "No Man Knows My History" remains the classical biography of the Mormon prophet. Everyone who is interested in Mormonism from a non-Mormon ("non-faith promoting") perspective must read and come to terms with this book. Brodie herself was expelled from the Mormon (LDS) Church after the book's publication. Mormon scholar Hugh Nibley responded with a piece bearing the sexist title "No, Ma'm, that's not history". I'm not sure whether it's still available, or whether anyone really cares. As for Brodie, she eventually became a successful history professor and wrote biographies of Thaddeus Stevens, Richard Burton, Thomas Jefferson and Richard Nixon. I haven't read them, but apparently they are heavily dependent on Freud and psychoanalysis, which strikes me as somewhat problematic. (Many American scholars seem to have a very reverential attitude to Freud. Perhaps patricide is in order?)

What makes Brodie's biography controversial is her forthright description of Joseph Smith as a fanatic and deliberate con man. In a later edition, she dubs him a megalomaniac. To Brodie, it seems obvious that if somebody makes claims that are patently absurd from an atheist viewpoint, that person must be a conscious liar. In the same manner, she writes off Joseph Smith's earliest followers as easily fooled, manipulated or hypnotized. Today, it's considered bad politic among anthropologists or comparative religion scholars to take matters quite this far. (Richard Dawkins is another case again. But then, he's a biologist.) However, I must admit that I feel a certain sympathy for Fawn Brodie's position. Smith, after all, made some pretty extreme claims!

Regular prophets claim to have visions, hear voices or meet supernatural personages. The visionary might be honestly reporting a subjective, psychological experience. He may even be (honestly) delusional. But Joseph Smith claimed to have found, seen and handled an actual material artefact, the golden plates from which the Book of Mormon were "translated" through the aid of an equally material artefact, the Urim and the Thummim (apparently, some kind of spectacles). Moreover, the Three Witnesses claimed to have had a collective vision of an angel showing them the golden plates, while the Eight Witnesses claimed to have both seen and handled the plates in a strictly down-to-earth fashion. The problem, of course, is that the entire story is absurd: there never were any golden plates, no Urim and Thummim, etc. It's therefore difficult not to charge Joseph Smith with conscious fraud, and his followers with extreme gullibility.

The same basic story applies to the Book of Abraham, where Smith did have access to an actual document, but where the "translation" is fraudulent. Add to this Smith's personal character, which included secret polygamy (while the Book of Mormon condemns polygamy), joining the Freemasons and copying their rituals (while the Book of Mormon condemns Masonry), revisions after the fact of published church material, etc. And what about prohibiting alcohol in Nauvoo while still running a saloon in the main building? Smith's disciples don't inspire much confidence either. The Three Witnesses all left the Mormon Church, yet insisted that their testimony about the golden plates was true. Smith's estranged wife Emma Hale Smith joined a monogamous breakaway group after her husband's death, taking revenge on Smith's polygamous successor Brigham Young by claiming that Smith had never been a polygamist.

If this is how religions are usually conceived, I rather stay agnostic!

Readers of "No Man Knows My History" should also consult "Reconsidering No Man Knows My History", a critical reappraisal of Brodie's book edited by Newell Bringhurst. Both are available through our favourite vendor, Amazon.com.
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No Man Knows My History (Vintage)
No Man Knows My History (Vintage) by Fawn M. Brodie (Paperback - 1 Jun 1996)
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