In the 173 years since his death in 1844, Joseph Smith’s legacy continues to fascinate Mormons and non-Mormons alike, as evidenced by the inclusion of several artifacts from the LDS Church as part of the “Religion in Early America” exhibit now open at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. The exhibit features a page from a first edition Book of Mormon and currency produced by the early church.

For those interested in learning more about early Mormonism’s role in American religious ideology, the summer 2015 issue of Journal of Illinois History features a great review of our Joseph Smith biography, Glorious in Persecution: Joseph Smith, American Prophet, 1839-1844 by Martha Bradley-Evans. Reviewer and fellow Smith biographer Roger D. Launius refers to Glorious as “the type of book that a historian writes once in a career. It is the product of years of research, study, and contemplation that reflects a mature, reasoned analysis of a complex and convoluted topic.”

Furthermore, Launius praises Bradley-Evans for her skills as a biographer and a historian, providing readers with a comprehensive understanding of how Smith’s personal sense of religious persecution influenced the development of Nauvoo as both a theocracy and sanctuary. According to Launius, “Bradley-Evans adds to these perceptions by investigating how Smith and the Mormons embraced this sense of persecution: animosity from those outside the religion served as confirmation that they were truly chosen of God…she makes a robust argument that it served to create strong boundaries between the Mormons and those not of the faith. Overall, this is a useful book, especially for those indoctrinated into the faithful Mormon position on the Nauvoo experience. It will help broaden and contextualize a fascinating era.”

Glorious in Persecution and its companion volume, Natural Born Seer, are both available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and local retailers. Both are excellent reading and might give you a viable excuse to visit Washington D.C. and see the artifacts mentioned in both books. For the sake of history, of course.

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