Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling by Richard L. Bushman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I'm not sure why, but my expectations for this book were HUGE - probably too high actually. I was looking forward to getting to know Joseph the man in a whole new way. Rough Stone Rolling is over 500 pages, but I felt like we were only skimming Joseph's life. In hindsight, I think my experience of the book was largely impacted by years of learning about Joseph through church, family research, and a BYU course from Susan E. Black (which was awesome). Because I have heard and learned a great deal about the life of the Prophet I wasn't really surprised at anything in the book.
That being said, I felt like Bushman explored the context and motivations of Joseph in a unique and fresh way. I felt like he was very fair (I am LDS)and didn't seem to exalt Joseph or cast him off as a flop. I think what the book did for me was to understand how complex of a man Joseph Smith was. Often in the church his story seems so clear and set, but often he didn't understand the direction he was going himself as he moved forward in faith.
My love for Joseph Smith and interest in his life and times have only grown after reading this book. He was a real guy with lots of strengths and many foibles. This book helped me understand his world in context and also the incredible backlash the church has received since it began in 1830. I would recommend this book to anyone, LDS or not, and invite them to consider the man Joseph and the fruits of his life.
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I am a graduate student in Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University. I enjoy writing, hiking, and spending time with my family.