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The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith Audiobook, by Matthew Bowman Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Matthew Bowman Narrator: Mark Deakins Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2012 ISBN: 9780449010624
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With Mormonism on the verge of an unprecedented cultural and political breakthrough, an eminent scholar of American evangelicalism explores the history and reflects on the future of this native-born American faith and its connection to the life of the nation.
In 1830, a young seer and sometime treasure hunter named Joseph Smith began organizing adherents into a new religious community that would come to be called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (and known informally as the Mormons). One of the nascent faith’s early initiates was a twenty-three-year-old Ohio farmer named Parley Pratt, the distant grandfather of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. In The Mormon People, religious historian Matthew Bowman peels back the curtain on more than 180 years of Mormon history and doctrine. He recounts the church’s origin and development, explains how Mormonism came to be one of the fastest-growing religions in the world by the turn of twenty-first-century, and ably sets the scene for a 2012 presidential election that has the potential to mark a major turning point in the way this “all-American” faith is perceived by the wider American public—and internationally.
Mormonism started as a radical movement, with a profoundly transformative vision of American society that was rooted in a form of Christian socialism. Over the ensuing centuries, Bowman demonstrates, that vision has evolved—and with it the esteem in which Mormons have been held in the eyes of their countrymen. Admired on the one hand as hardworking paragons of family values, Mormons have also been derided as oddballs and persecuted as polygamists, heretics, and zealots clad in “magic underwear.” Even today, the place of Mormonism in public life continues to generate heated debate on both sides of the political divide. Polls show widespread unease at the prospect of a Mormon president. Yet the faith has never been more popular. Today there are about 14 million Mormons in the world, fewer than half of whom live inside the United States. It is a church with a powerful sense of its own identity and an uneasy sense of its relationship with the main line of American culture.
Mormons will surely play an even greater role in American civic life in the years ahead. In such a time, The Mormon People comes as a vital addition to the corpus of American religious history—a frank and fair-minded demystification of a faith that remains a mystery for many. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • The Mormon church has never been more important in American politics. In this smart, lucid history of the faith, Matthew Bowman explains a religion that many Americans don’t understand but should. With Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman in the race, this is essential reading for anyone interested in 2012 and beyond. Tom Brokaw, author of The Time of Our Lives: A Conversation About America
  • Matthew Bowman has brought us a cogent, judicious, and important account of a faith that has been an important element in American history but remained surprisingly misunderstood. Michael Beschloss, author of Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America, 1789–1989
  • What do Mormons stand for? Are they quintessential good citizens or troubling religious deviants? Why are Mormons running for president? Matthew Bowman offers a quick, lively, and informative trip into the heart of Mormonism. All who are concerned or just curious will learn a lot about the making of modern Mormons from this book. Richard Lyman Bushman, author of Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling

Listener Reviews

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  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steve | 2/18/2014

    " With the Mormon church making a big membership push tied to Mitt Romney's Presidential campaign I saw this book at the library and thought (as the note on the cover states) that it would be a timely read, it has been a long time since I read the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, etc. The history of the Mormon people is closely tied to their leaders revelations, and their beliefs, practices, and the focus of the Mormon church have changed greatly as these leaders and revelations have changed. I know quite a few Mormons, and they are great people with whom I have a lot of secular beliefs in common, but from my Christian perspective, the foundations of Mormon beliefs are radically different than mine and this book was an interesting overview of how America has shaped Mormonism and how Mormonism has impacted America. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Danielle | 1/26/2014

    " This book is essentially what the title says it is, a history of the Mormon people from Joseph Smith's founding of the religion to the way they live and worship in today's society. For anyone interested in learning more about the Mormon faith in a seemingly unbiased way this is a really good book. I think it would make an excellent companion piece to Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer, which although an excellent book, takes a more extremist look at Mormonism. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sandy | 1/26/2014

    " An interesting and objective look at the history of the Mormon faith in America. If you are interested in learning more about Mormons, I highly recommend this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sharman | 1/25/2014

    " Very well written and accessible to non-Mormons and non-scholars. Bowman has great insight and writes thoughtfully. He does not whitewash; instead he shows the true complexities, human foibles, and the messy process of establishing and maintaining a new religion. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Troy | 1/24/2014

    " This book is a good, solid overview of the history of the Mormon church and the Mormon people. It is not deep but it does a fine job of hitting the good, the bad and the ugly of Mormon history. I found the insights into early- and mid-20th century Mormonism to be more clearly put together than anything else I've found. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joanne | 1/19/2014

    " A well timed and mostly well written book, I read it to familiarize myself with the authority Romney answers to first, since Romney is in a no-holds-barred race for the American Presidency. This History of the Mormons should be read by all American voters. A kind and (almost) frank look at the roots, reforms and re-integration of the religion once called a "prophetic and polygamous threat to the American way of life" into its current place as a world religion, pillar among fundamentalism and the politically far right. reading this book will help allay the fears of those conservatives who believe all the leftist hate memes circulating about Mormons, while helping those on the fence get a clear picture of his cultural roots and real allegiances of Mr. Romney as a temple recommend wielding and frequent "called" leader of the Mormom faith. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Philip | 1/16/2014

    " A couple chapters weren't as "tight" or focused as I would have liked them to be, but overall a very good, concise history of a complex people / religion. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cheryl | 11/27/2013

    " Excellent overview of Mormon history. I learned a lot. It was surprising how much I did not know about the middle period of church history--post polygamy and pre 1980. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sheldon | 11/22/2013

    " Bowman's "Mormon People" is a good, brief introduction to the history of Mormonism. He deals in an open, unapologetic way with the high and low points in the development of this religious tradition. It is a great summary of the state of understanding of Mormon history as of 2011. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristy | 11/3/2013

    " Interesting. Well written. I learned a lot. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rick | 11/2/2013

    " Excellent short history of the Mormon Church and its theology. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nate | 8/5/2013

    " Great synthesis of the secondary literature. A little scattershot in on the 20th century, but what else can you do in this short of a book? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Morris | 7/5/2013

    " Excellent one-volume summary Mormon history, from its founding by Joseph Smith to the present. Very readable. Should be used as a basic text for LDS Institute and Seminary classes. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 5/9/2013

    " Slow, boring and too many names to keep track of. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Loyd | 10/4/2012

    " With his energetic prose, Bowman gives us the best history of Mormonism to date. From Joseph's early visions to the Romney campaign, he does an exquisite job telling the story of the Mormon people within the context of the broader American culture/s and does so in a way that truly "gets" Mormonism. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Denise | 7/18/2012

    " Dry, yet interesting. I think the NYT review was pretty accurate. A long-ago relation of mine makes a brief appearance as someone who was slow to give up polygamy. You know we hate change! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kyrie | 6/8/2012

    " It's a (I assume) pretty good history of the Mormon church and where it is in modern times. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nora | 3/6/2012

    " Just excellent. 'Fair-minded' is a great way to describe this book. I have always been fascinated by the transformation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over the course of its history. Bowman doesn't shy away from the tough issues and, I think, did a great job working through them. "

About the Author

Matthew Bowman received his PhD in American religious history from Georgetown University in May 2011, and a master’s in American history from the University of Utah. He is Associate Professor of History at Henderson State University.

About the Narrator

Mark Deakins is an AudioFile Earphones Award–winning narrator and actor whose television appearances include Head Case, Star Trek: Voyager, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. His film credits include Intervention, Star Trek: Insurrection, and The Devil’s Advocate. He wrote, directed, and produced the short film The Smith Interviews.