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smac97

“The Mormon Rebellion: America'S First Civil War, 1857-1858” By David L. Bigler And Will Bagley

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“The Mormon Rebellion: America's First Civil War, 1857-1858” (University of Oklahoma Press, $34.95) by David L. Bigler and Will Bagley will be controversial for Mormons since it shows Brigham Young and some of his followers as traitors.

Young and some of his followers wanted to create a state or a new country out of their Territory of Utah. Young was willing to kill men, women and children who just happened to be crossing his territory as in the case of the Mountain Meadows Massacre and the abuse of fellow Mormons who did not follow his wishes to create his new country.

President James Buchanan sent a large American army under Col. Albert Sidney Johnston to restore federal law and order in Utah. This book about a rebellion that was eclipsed by the American Civil War is highly recommended to those interested in Mormon history.

Here's a portion of a favorable review from Amazon:

Chapter seven is one of the best pieces of historical writing I have ever read. In 24 pages Bigler and Bagley detail the events of Mountain Meadows Massacre in a clear and thorough way that I have never seen in any work on the subject. Do they believe Young is responsible, clearly they do. This chapter will stand up to the scrutiny of western historians and be a benchmark for future writing about this awful tale of blood.

So has anyone read this? I'm particularly interested in whether Chapter 7 (all 24 pages of it) has anything new to say about Brigham Young's alleged role in the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

Thanks,

Smac

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This sounds interesting. I just now ordered the book.

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Here:

Here's a portion of a favorable review from Amazon:

So has anyone read this? I'm particularly interested in whether Chapter 7 (all 24 pages of it) has anything new to say about Brigham Young's alleged role in the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

Thanks,

Smac

Sounds like Bagley's typical anti-Mormon spin. Obviously he can't refute Massacre at Mountain Meadows, so he tries hitting below the belt in another way, even though trying to portray BY as a Jefferson Davis will end up as comical fodder when matched against actual History and the facts.

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Here:

Here's a portion of a favorable review from Amazon:

So has anyone read this? I'm particularly interested in whether Chapter 7 (all 24 pages of it) has anything new to say about Brigham Young's alleged role in the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

Thanks,

Smac

I got an advanced copy from Oklahoma University Press. You can find my review at the Association For Mormon Letters and on my blog here:

http://mormonwar.blogspot.com/2011/04/book-review-mormon-rebellion-americas.html

I also find the second review at Amazon is accurate as well:

http://www.amazon.com/Mormon-Rebellion-Americas-First-1857-1858/dp/0806141352/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1303942229&sr=8-1

If you don't want to click the links I found an impromper use of sources, incredibly tendentious narrative, a failure to provide historical context, and some good ol fashion hypocrasy to boot. It's also completely uselss as a military history. Its pretty good though if you think Brigham Young is a boogey man. Even though the authors complained about the anti mormon label that is exactly what they earned with this book.

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Thanks for the insightful and specific review, Morgan. :good:

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I've heard great things about the book and will be purchasing a copy very soon.

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Thanks for the insightful and specific review, Morgan. :good:

Thanks.

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I haven't read much about the Mountain Meadows Massacre (my only exposure being The Storm Testament IV; heavy reading for a 12 year old!), and now I'm finally reading "Massacre at Mountain Meadows" and really enjoying it. "Enjoying it" meaning it is well written, not the story itself of course.

Obviously, "Massacre at Mountain Meadows" has a lot of detail and information, and the authors had excellent access to the relevant materials. So if Bagley is coming to a starkly different conclusion about Brigham Young's involvement, that would mean he knows something that Ronald Walker doesn't, or Ronald Walker deliberately left out certain evidence to avoid an unpleasant conclusion. Or Bagley is blowing smoke and some people don't realize it (see: the positive review at Amazon).

I understand the argument for Bagley arguing beyond the evidence, so I don't need to hear that again. But can anyone make the argument for Walker being ignorant of certain evidence, or ignoring that evidence in the preparation of his book?

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After only making it to the second paragraph of Deane’s review, I wanted him to defend the claim of there being “new research” in "Turley et al"s book. Can Deane identify just five new bits of information found in "Turley et al"s book that cannot be found in Blood of the Prophets, Innocent Blood or Mountain Meadows Massacre? My guess is Deane has not read any of these books.

I am completely shocked that any person with a shred of decency would write such a thing as the following: "then the authors dismiss relative examples of frontier violence that could have provided context for the Mountain Meadows Massacre", but this is found in Deane’s review. What violent act in the west compares to Mountain Meadows? It was not until the Oklahoma City bombing that any like number of civilians were murdered in cold blood in a non-military campaign on U.S. soil.

Deane claims the authors present the Mormons and Young as “witch burners”, “delusional”, “weasels”, “ungrateful guests”, and “dirty and sinister”. If one is willing to give Deane the benefit of the doubt, it could be said he has made at least five errors in a very short review. From my reading of the text he is sighting, I think Deane is being dishonest. For example the authors in describing how heated the reformation of 1856-1857 was, write that “Young ignited the most fearful spiritual upheaval since the 1642 Salem witch hunts.” (94) This is beyond stretching the truth on Deane’s part. Deane’s other words don’t even show up in the text.

And finally, how weak is it when apologists like Deane cry that their side of the story is not being told? What does he think 40,000 to 60,000 copies of Massacre at Mountain Meadows sold means? How many copies of Mormon Rebellion will be sold? Possibly three to four thousand books sold, less than 9 percent of Turley’s book. This apologists is not satisfied with these kinds of odds; no he want to destroy any other voice, call the other voices liars, or not even let the other voice speak, this is his strategy. An apologist like Deane doesn’t take the time to look at the evidence even-handedly, learn about the history or think for himself, he just attacks.

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After only making it to the second paragraph of Deane’s review...

Yo Joe!! :) Nice to see you on the forum. And thanks for your rebuttal. :good:

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I seems quite telling to me that Dean chose not to engage the arguments or evidence presented in the book. Instead, Dean's review focuses on Tone, Bias, and those things that he thinks the book "should" have mentioned. Dean claims that he perceives a "false dichotomy," but he then neglects to explain how such a dichotomy (if one exists--which I doubt after reading Joe's review) is "false" at all. Contrasting descriptive words is not enough to expose an observed fallacy.

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I really can't tell.

Has anyone on this thread other than morgan read the book or are posters arguing for the merits of the book using only the reviews of it?

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The ignorance of those two idiots cannot be plumbed: They never heard of the Yankee-Pennamite War or the Kansas-Missouri Border War, I guess. Yet they think the only "other" time we had civil war in this country was during Buchanan's Blunder.

USU "Also remembers a little civil war between Tories and Patriots in places like Nueva York, South Carolina and the Wyoming Valley that post-dates the beginnings of the Yankee-Pennamite War -- But those yutzes don't know much from such obvious history" 78

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The ignorance of those two idiots cannot be plumbed: They never heard of the Yankee-Pennamite War or the Kansas-Missouri Border War, I guess. Yet they think the only "other" time we had civil war in this country was during Buchanan's Blunder.

USU "Also remembers a little civil war between Tories and Patriots in places like Nueva York, South Carolina and the Wyoming Valley that post-dates the beginnings of the Yankee-Pennamite War -- But those yutzes don't know much from such obvious history" 78

Whiskey rebellion anyone?

Our nation, up to the civil war was on the verge of exploding apart in so many ways (I won't even go into the Hartford Convention or when VP Calhoun stated to then president Jackson that the south had a right to cecede). It seems the authors aren't really sure of their American History (based on their blurb) and only interested in creating a false sense of tension. I will stick with the McCullogh's and Tuchmans of the world, their careful examination allows for greater insight.

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Hey Joe. I’m happy to clarify a few things for you, although based on the tone of your post this will be my only response to you. I would be happy to continue if your tone does change (or if your trolling survives moderation). If it makes you feel better you can blame it all on my apologist programming and lack of decency!

I’m a historian that specializes in Military history with a secondary background in Mormon history. As such I am unaware of any historiographic minefields when I review a piece. So I can honestly say I don’t bring any approach or agenda to a book. I actually looked forward to this book a great deal.

But I’m sorry, the book contained many lousy historical practices. Providing context to an event doesn’t condone it, but it does provide greater understanding. This is what good history is supposed to do. American history has its share of extra judicial killing, mob action, and bloody border zones. Little of it compares to the scope of MMM and none condone it, but it would have been nice (not to mention more professional as historians) for the bloodiest action of the war to receive a more nuanced treatment. For example, Dr. John Grenier has impressively shown that there is a strain of American war making that targeted civilians. This strand was so prominent he called included it in the “America’s First Way of War”. So its misleading (among other things) to present the MMM in a vacuum independent of American and Western U.S. history.

I used the term “new research” to apply equally to new analysis of existing sources. Again, historians need to do more than use their existing collections. The manner in which they analyze the varying accounts and then synthesize it into an argument matters just as much as their research. The authors again failed, and thus their arguments are suspect at best. As I said with “context”, I appreciated the Turley book’s attempt to understand the motivations of the perpetuators. And I was disappointed that the authors skipped the chance to do likewise in favor of their agenda.

But this became less puzzling as I realized the very simplistic structure of the book. Mormons=bad, opponents of Mormons=good, people that like Mormons= dumb dumb dumb dumb! That is not history. To borrow a phrase from my time in Texas that is very useful in studying history, even the flattest pancake still has two sides. I’m sure Brigham Young had his share of faults. But the author’s continued bias became so typically outrageous that it was comical by the end of the book. So instead of gaining new insight into a controversial religious figure I instead laughed at the comic book super villain they created. Judging from the authors accounts I was expecting to look at the pictures and see stake marks over Young’s heart where the Federals unsuccessfully tried kill him. Again, professional and talented historians would take pains to try and present a nuanced picture of their subject, not write a one sided hit piece.

Finally, my list of “bad” and “good” insults was accurate. The ones in quotes are direct, the ones that are not express the sentiment the authors were creating. As you can see from even the small sampling, I was not taking their words or sentiments out of context. The sheer numbers of instances made me think this wasn’t a random occurrence, but an agenda that fatally undermined their attempt at legitimate history. Even as a sophomore earning my undergraduate degree my advisor could tell when I disliked a historical figure and he told me not to poison the well with my prose. Again the authors repeatedly committed mistakes that an undergraduate should and could avoid.

For clarity sake: “witch burners” is the accurate description of how people in Salem projected their passion and what the authors intended in recalling that period of religiously inspired violence. I would have to be as dumb as you think I am not to make that connection. “Delusional” is found on page 144 where the authors state that “meanwhile a messenger from the real world interrupted Young’s dream of grand alliance.” Again, this is an appropriate one word description of the authors’ intent.

I hesitated to use “weasels” but believe it correctly identifies the authors’ sentiment. The Medieval Norman conquer Robert Guiscard has been called “Robert the Fox” but the Latin word was also translated as “Robert the Underhanded” or “Robert the Weasel”. This is appropriately recalled when the authors write on page 209, “A later opponent said that Young was not much consequence as a lion, but when he took on the role of the fox, ‘he is very formidable’. Young showed nimble skills in escaping culpability for both blunders…” It was extremely clear to me that the authors were arguing about Young’s ability to weasel out of problems and they used negative terms to do so.

“Ungrateful guests” is located on page 197 (I originally listed it as page 180- my apologies). Here the authors state “Travelling in Vilet’s comfortable carriage The University of Pennsylvania graduate returned the captain’s hospitality by serving as Young’s eyes in the enemy camp.” And “dirty and sinister” is found on page 123 (mistakenly I put 124) as “rough and sinister looking men”. Again, you could say that I was being unfair or reading too much into it. But the consistency with which the authors poisoned the well convinced me that I was not. And I’m sorry to sound like a broken record but professional historians do not consistently commit these kinds of errors.

Your last paragraph is incredibly sad. It’s a long diatribe against a perceived enemy, full of vitriol and ad hominem but does nothing to bolster the defense of the book. I don’t know and don’t care how many prints the respective books have. I’ve never been called an apologist (but I guess I made it into the club!), and never published with FAIR. Trying to paint me into the enemy camp, call me a liar, question my intelligence, or question my character doesn’t engage my arguments. If anything, your hyperbolic response to my review indicates that you’re the one that read it with preprogrammed agenda. (Assuming you even read it!) You did find several typos in my citations. Thank you for calling it to my attention. Have a nice life.

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Does the book mention which sides Col. Johnson and Brigham Young took -- three (3) years later --during the real Civil War?

I wonder if the book addresses the obvious question. Why would “the traitor” Brigham Young begin a civil war in 1857, but remain loyal during the real Civil War, when his chances for success would have seemed to be much greater?

Sometimes, I think that the only way to fight a conspiracy theory is with another conspiracy theory. Anyone up for reviving the idea that “Buchanan’s Blunder” was really a plot to provoke a Utah rebellion in order to tie up the bulk of the army in a distant quagmire on the eve of the southern rebellion?

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After only making it to the second paragraph of Deane’s review, I wanted him to defend the claim of there being “new research” in "Turley et al"s book. Can Deane identify just five new bits of information found in "Turley et al"s book that cannot be found in Blood of the Prophets, Innocent Blood or Mountain Meadows Massacre? My guess is Deane has not read any of these books.

I am completely shocked that any person with a shred of decency would write such a thing as the following: "then the authors dismiss relative examples of frontier violence that could have provided context for the Mountain Meadows Massacre", but this is found in Deane’s review. What violent act in the west compares to Mountain Meadows? It was not until the Oklahoma City bombing that any like number of civilians were murdered in cold blood in a non-military campaign on U.S. soil.

Deane claims the authors present the Mormons and Young as “witch burners”, “delusional”, “weasels”, “ungrateful guests”, and “dirty and sinister”. If one is willing to give Deane the benefit of the doubt, it could be said he has made at least five errors in a very short review. From my reading of the text he is sighting, I think Deane is being dishonest. For example the authors in describing how heated the reformation of 1856-1857 was, write that “Young ignited the most fearful spiritual upheaval since the 1642 Salem witch hunts.” (94) This is beyond stretching the truth on Deane’s part. Deane’s other words don’t even show up in the text.

And finally, how weak is it when apologists like Deane cry that their side of the story is not being told? What does he think 40,000 to 60,000 copies of Massacre at Mountain Meadows sold means? How many copies of Mormon Rebellion will be sold? Possibly three to four thousand books sold, less than 9 percent of Turley’s book. This apologists is not satisfied with these kinds of odds; no he want to destroy any other voice, call the other voices liars, or not even let the other voice speak, this is his strategy. An apologist like Deane doesn’t take the time to look at the evidence even-handedly, learn about the history or think for himself, he just attacks.

Stick to the topic and refrain from personal attacks please.

Skylla

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Stick to the topic and refrain from personal attacks please.

Skylla

Thank you, Skylla, for swooping down to keep this critic in line. This thread was definitely getting out of hand fast!

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I seems quite telling to me that Dean chose not to engage the arguments or evidence presented in the book. Instead, Dean's review focuses on Tone, Bias, and those things that he thinks the book "should" have mentioned. Dean claims that he perceives a "false dichotomy," but he then neglects to explain how such a dichotomy (if one exists--which I doubt after reading Joe's review) is "false" at all. Contrasting descriptive words is not enough to expose an observed fallacy.

Warning hypocrite bell is going off; Here you are criticizing Dean who has obviously read the book and just 8 hours before this post you said you were going to purchase it soon. Unless in those eight hours you have purchased the book, read it, and formed a counter argument to morgan.dean's review, then this posts makes you look like a hypocrite. If you want to critic morgan.deans review about him not engaging the argument perhaps you should read it first.

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I find this asserted Bagley attack on Brigham Young interesting. I have read Blood of the Prophets, twice. I have it in an easily accessible place and refer to it several times a year. I do not recall ANYTHING in it accusing Young of being the instigator of the MMM. "Culpable", yes, in that he whipped up religious fervor during the "reformation"; and preached that the Indians were the "battleaxe of the Lord"; and encouraged the Saints to withhold their provisions to the emigrants because of being on a war footing, etc. He in fact sent a rider post haste to instruct the Saints of Cedar city to help the emigrants on their way and not to molest them. The worst that Bagley could find to say about B. Young in his very large book on the MMM is that he did not like him, and that if there was sufficient evidence to prosecute him for culpability in the massacre he would have been put on trial. I do not recall any innuendo suggesting that Bagley actually believes that B. Young ordered or in any way, with malice aforethought PLANNED the massacre or knew that it was brewing and sat back and let it happen.

So if in this book Will Bagley has resorted to what amounts to accusations that B. Young actively caused the massacre and knew it would happen, then he's left his neutral ground position in the years since he wrote Blood of the Prophets....

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Warning hypocrite bell is going off; Here you are criticizing Dean who has obviously read the book and just 8 hours before this post you said you were going to purchase it soon. Unless in those eight hours you have purchased the book, read it, and formed a counter argument to morgan.dean's review, then this posts makes you look like a hypocrite. If you want to critic morgan.deans review about him not engaging the argument perhaps you should read it first.

Don't be silly. Expressing my dissatisfaction with Dean's poorly written review--without myself (admittedly) reading the book--makes me no more a hypocrite than *you* would be for criticizing my criticism of Dean; since you (apparently) have not read the book either.

But humor me for a moment: What *exactly* did I say in my post that is undermined by the fact that I have not yet read the book?

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Stick to the topic and refrain from personal attacks please.

Skylla

Personal attacks, unlike USU calling people "idiots". Got it!

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Delete

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Yes, Bagley says Young actively pursued the massacre.

Among other things he says GAS comminicated the orders of destruction. He also says Haslam's ride was an attempt to reverse his orders.

You have read the book twice. My goodness.

I think BOTP is one outrage after another in terms of the way it deals with evidence.

I've chased many of his sources. I found evidence of plagiarism (Dwyer in particular) and cites to nonexistent sources. Then there is the little matter of not cracking the national archives. And relying on a doctored photo.

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Personal attacks, unlike USU calling people "idiots". Got it!

Mike . . . even you can't defend the indefensible, and calling the Mormon War "America's First Civil War" is indefensible by any standard. If they're not idiots, they're the next best thing for allowing the marketing people to both rename the Mormon War as the "Mormon Rebellion," which is unprecedented, and call it something it plainly was not.

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