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A definitive biography
on 5 April 2013
I've not only read this book through but use it as a reference time and again. This is with out doubt the best biography of Joseph Smith I have read. I am a believer and Mormon enthusiast and also a history graduate and enthusiast. I don't accept this book is a 'warts and all' biography - it's just a biography. All biographies give an account of a person's life and no person, save Christ himself, has lived an unblemished life. Bushman brings Joseph Smith to life as a man of terrific energy and courage. I think I can distinguish a proper history book from a hagiography and Bushman's book is the former. Having said that, I declare this volume has deepened my love for Joseph Smith. Bushman recognises that few people are neutral about Smith. People tend to love him or hate him. Rough Stone Rolling has deepened my love for him.
Bushman's particular expertise is in American cultural history and Rough Stone Rolling certainly places Joseph Smith, his family, friends and enemies in the context of their cultural surroundings better than anything else I've ever read. If prospective readers are put off by the notion of religion and religious leaders I would urge them to try Rough Stone Rolling as a valuable history book about nineteenth century America.