Synopses & Reviews
On September 11, 1857, a band of Mormon militia, under a flag of truce, lured unarmed members of a party of emigrants from their fortified encampment and, with their Paiute allies, killed them. More than 120 men, women, and children perished in the slaughter.
Massacre at Mountain Meadows offers the most thoroughly researched account of the massacre ever written. Drawn from documents previously not available to scholars and a careful re-reading of traditional sources, this gripping narrative offers fascinating new insight into why Mormons settlers in isolated southern Utah deceived the emigrant party with a promise of safety and then killed the adults and all but seventeen of the youngest children. The book sheds light on factors contributing to the tragic event, including the war hysteria that overcame the Mormons after President James Buchanan dispatched federal troops to Utah Territory to put down a supposed rebellion, the suspicion and conflicts that polarized the perpetrators and victims, and the reminders of attacks on Mormons in earlier settlements in Missouri and Illinois. It also analyzes the influence of Brigham Young's rhetoric and military strategy during the infamous "Utah War" and the role of local Mormon militia leaders in enticing Paiute Indians to join in the attack. Throughout the book, the authors paint finely drawn portraits of the key players in the drama, their backgrounds, personalities, and roles in the unfolding story of misunderstanding, misinformation, indecision, and personal vendettas.
The Mountain Meadows Massacre stands as one of the darkest events in Mormon history. Neither a whitewash nor an exposé, Massacre at Mountain Meadows provides the clearest and most accurate account of a key event in American religious history.
"A vivid, gripping narrative of one of the most notorious mass murders in all American history, and a model for how historians should do their work. This account of a long-controversial horror is scrupulously researched, enriched with contemporary illustrations, and informed by the lessons of more recent atrocities." --Daniel Walker Howe, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848
"Three Mormon scholars have thoroughly researched one of the most shameful events in Mormon history. They have produced a very detailed, insightful and balanced account of the events leading to the Mountain Meadow Massacre of 9/11, 1857." --Robert V. Remini, Professor Emeritus of History and the Humanities, University of Illinois, Chicago
"An institutional effort at truth telling in service to reparation, this book provides in unflinching detail and with scholarly transparency the story of one of the West's most disturbingly violent moments. The authors tell the story well and get the history right, in no small part because of LDS Church sponsorship that underwrote a level of professional staffing and research that is impossible, even unimaginable, to the most diligent of lone writers. This uniquely well-documented account of a highly contested event may make obsolete previous studies and without doubt will constitute the necessary starting point for all future ones." --Kathleen Flake, author of The Politics of American Religious Identity
"The authors of Massacre at Mountain Meadows have written the best researched, most complete, and most evenhanded account of the Mountain Meadows incident we are likely to have for a long time. Above all they tell a gripping tale. Though I knew the end from the beginning, I began to sweat as the narrative approached its fatal climax. The authors won't let us turn our gaze away from the horrors of that moment." --Richard Bushman, Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies, Claremont Graduate University
"Massacre at Mountain Meadows is arguably the most professional, transparent account of a controversial event in Mormon history produced under church auspices. The work may well mark a major turning point in Latter-day Saint historiography." --Journal of American History
"Massacre at Mountain Meadows deserves to be the standard account of the massacre for both LDS and non-LDS researchers and readers...Walker, Turley, and Leonard have provided a tightly written, riveting narrative ...In this excellent volume readers of every stripe--from undergraduates to scholars to the general public--will find not only the finest extant account of the tragedy of Mountain Meadows but also a window onto the potential, but by no means inevitable, power of religion to contribute to mass violence." --Church History
"It may be tempting to disregard this work as just another in a long line of books written about this tragic event, but it would be a mistake to discount it. The authors have compiled a staggering amount of research, some of which has never been seen before, and present a more thorough and detailed history of Mountain Meadows than has ever been written. . . This meticulously researched book is an important contribution to the study of Mormonism in America and the authors succeeded in telling the story of an often polarizing event in a scholarly and historically responsible way."--Religious Studies Review
About the Author
Ronald W. Walker
is an independent historian and writer of Latter-day Saint history living in Salt Lake City.
Richard E. Turley, Jr. is Assistant Church Historian for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Glen M. Leonard is former Director of the LDS Museum of Church History and Art.