In , A Young Farm Boy In Search Of Truth Has A Vision Of God The Father And Jesus Christ Three Years Later, An Angel Guides Him To An Ancient Record Buried In A Hill Near His Home With God S Help, He Translates The Record And Organizes The Savior S Church In The Latter Days Soon Others Join Him, Accepting The Invitation To Become Saints Through The Atonement Of Jesus Christ But Opposition And Violence Follow Those Who Defy Old Traditions To Embrace Restored Truths The Women And Men Who Join The Church Must Choose Whether Or Not They Will Stay True To Their Covenants, Establish Zion, And Proclaim The Gospel To A Troubled World The Standard Of Truth Is The First Book In Saints, A New, Four Volume Narrative History Of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints Fast Paced, Meticulously Researched, Saints Recounts True Stories Of Latter Day Saints Across The Globe And Answers The Lord S Call To Write History For The Good Of The Church, And For The Rising Generations Doctrine And Covenants I just finished reading volume 1 of the church s new book Saints I know Mormon history has been a hot topic for many Latter day Saints, so naturally this book has appeal Let me first start off withTHE GOOD This book is, in my opinion, the very best general audience history that the church has ever published It is far better than earlier works like Our Heritage, Marvelous Work and a Wonder, etc The book is incredibly reader friendly and flows beautifully I give high marks to whomever is responsible for the prose of this book Very easy, very enjoyable I can easily foresee the day this book becomes the new manual for Priesthood and Relief Society There is an effort to include of the blemishes and warts from our past in this book Joseph Smith is portrayed as a good man but not elevated to Herculean status The church is portrayed as a living, evolving entity as opposed to absolute perfection right out of the gate Having said all that, there still is someNOT SO GOOD The book, thought a big upgrade, still omits a tremendous amount of problematic history Only a few of Joseph s polygamous wives are mentioned and the controversial ones with the exception of Fanny Alger, who is only glossed over are completely absent from the story The Three Witnesses narrative is the same as it has always been which is a huge problem there is little to no mention of the role Freemasonry in early Mormonism, and the historicity of the Book of Abraham Mormon are not mentioned at all They do mention Joseph Smith using seer stones in his hat and other similar little tidbits of troubling history, but if anyone was hoping this book would be the new narrative that historians like Richard Bushman have been asking for you will be disappointed The book feels like watered down Truman Madsen, meets the LDS Church essays, meets The Work and the Glory You can see the internal struggle of the authors to be honest while still creating a narrative in which Mormonism emerges victorious and virtuous at every turn This book is NOT a critical or comprehensive history I cannot emphasize this enough If you were looking for that you will be disappointed The book is a very general, very generic INTRODUCTORY history This isn t necessarily a bad thing but if you were wanting you will not find it here Overall I think the book is a plus It will add to, not subtract from, the ongoing communal conversation that is Mormon history I salute the church for trying to be a little open and honest Though the book does fall short in many respects, I see good than bad Just remember one thing if you choose to read it the book is NOT a comprehensive work Don t look to this source to answer some of the major doubts so many struggle with today It won t have many of those answers Having said that, the book is still, in my opinion, of value. Reading as someone who is not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, I found this book to be a very detailed account of the early years of the Latter day Saints movement As an official Church publication, I suppose one could make the argument that the book is biased in favor of the traditional narrative, but I don t think that really impacts negatively on the book s value as a historical work There s a lot of fascinating history here, and it s told well, and extensively footnoted Well worth reading I am shamelessly proud of my Church and the great strides they have made in the publishing of Saints The Standard of Truth This is fantastic history and beautiful prose I have always been an avid reader, my early encounters with Church history weren t positive I remember reading excerpts from Our Heritage in Sunday School and finding it absolutely dry Perhaps I have matured since then, and I do feel invested in my Church and its history now But I think part of that is finding Church history books not published by Deseret Book My first Church history book that became a favorite was Greg Prince s David O McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism I also enjoyed finding alternate interpretations of Church history, such as Denver Snuffer s Preserving the Restoration, and recent publications like Joseph Smith s Polygamy and Seer Stones This book is a fantastic addition to the genre of Latter Day Saint history, and bravely confronts difficult topics while maintaining a narrative structure in which belief in the divinity of Joseph s calling as prophet.Church leaders are using the word immunize to describe their hopes of this book that it will immunize them from doubts and anything anti Mormon in nature I think the wording is appropriate but I think any scenario where a form of censorship is present will harbor ill feelings Leftists on campus are finding this out now when you make no room for conservative viewpoints on campus, and students encounter facts from alt right sources, they can start to embrace extremist viewpoints, because they feel that the liberal elites have lied to them We need to have open discussion about these topics We shouldn t be ashamed to discuss them, and we shouldn t have to feel we are being untrue to our faith if we bring them up Let s talk about Joseph Smith s polygamy Let s talk about seer stones I m very excited in this new era where members and youth will be much familiar with Church history, and hopefully have a complete mental structure of Church history rather than a string of faith strengthening stories cherry picked from the past.https www.youtube.com watch v kTiRnHere are a few things that I learned, or at least became much clear as I read Saints Joseph Smith wasn t perfectYou hear this all the time We acknowledge it, but when we are confronted with his humanity upfront, sometimes it can be a bit hard to take Joseph was rough around the edges He didn t look or act like a prophet at times I didn t know that he got into a fist fight with his brother and fellow apostle in a quorum meeting He held grudges, and often alienated people both in and outside the Church Thomas Marsh found out that he was a bit authoritarian at times, often acting without consulting other Marsh felt hurt that Joseph would take unilateral action in organizing missionary work with England, when he had clearly delegated that to himself And heck Joseph went and instituted polygamy without telling his two counselors in the First Presidency That doesn t sound like a good way of building trust.Critics of the Church have always been aroundWe often characterize these doubters and takers of offense as traitors, enemies, and antagonists But I think these characters had legitimate concerns about Joseph s leadership I sympathized with all of them, and we need to see how real their concerns are, because we are likely to encounter similar concerns with present day leaders as well I think there are plenty of examples of those who struggled and remained faithful Parley P Pratt for example He got absolutely screwed over by Joseph and Sidney when the Kirtland Safety Society went under He even voiced some criticisms But, with some help from fellow saints, he was humble enough to accept a prophet with flaws.Other critics I had less sympathy for John Bennett told women that Joseph gave him permission to sleep with them outside of the marriage covenant He tricked many When he was excommunicated, he was the one who really sparked off the rumors and sharp criticisms around polygamy William Law too was an adulterer who couldn t take the consequences of his actions and turned on the prophet.Emma is back againIn most Church literature, you hear about Emma briefly in the happy early days of the Restoration, but she fades out in the Nauvoo years when polygamy was introduced, because she doesn t always play the role of demure, supportive wife She REALLY struggled with Joseph s polygamy, and they show it really well here You feel for her I am so glad to see her character, and her centrality in the restoration, portrayed so well.We were kind of jerks in MissouriThe only two things a lot of Mormons know about Missouri is that we re supposed to build a temple there some day, and Governor Boggs is a horrible bigot who issued the extermination order This is true But you find out that there was bad blood on both sides Mormons often didn t play good neighbors Remember when the saints got kicked out of Jackson County That really got rolling right after William Phelps published an inflammatory speech by Sidney Rigdon saying, If you fight with us, we ll fight back We re willing to shed blood to protect our rights Perhaps that s an OK sentiment But it isn t going to calm things When some neighboring Missourians burned down the house of a saint, the Mormons retaliated by burning down an entire village The Saints had a secret group called the Danites who swore to fight off the enemies of the Church with violence Perhaps we often didn t take the first punch But we certainly were willing to play 19th century identity politics, take things personally, and get our hands dirty.While a lot of it isn t new persay, this is the first time I feel like I have a complete picture of the Restoration complete in my head I ve read specialty books on Mormon history, like Joseph Smith s use of seer stones, or the revelations surrounding polygamy, but this is the first time I feel comfortable with the overarching narrative of not only the life of Joseph Smith, but the lives of everyday saints as well And it feels so good to not feel like I have to be ashamed of inconvenient truths surrounding Joseph Smith You don t have to feel like some hater out there is going to spring a truth on you that could potentially crash your testimony I hope this builds self confidence in Mormons my bad, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints , and I hope it starts of spark to help us re appreciate the Restoration. The most refreshing thing about the book Saints is that it does not hide the fact that the men and women of the early church were flawed individuals Even though they had been called to some of the Lord s most important work, their human frailties and weaknesses came out over and over again But this didn t stop them or the work The repentant and humble were still allowed to be instruments in the hands of the Lord And their struggle, is OUR struggle Each of us is called to move the Lord s kingdom forward notwithstanding our limitations To me, it is a testimony of the divinity of this Church Even with all of our human frailties, the work rolls on Seeing the weaknesses of these saints did not damage my faith, in fact, it strengthened it The Prophet Joseph in particular was not immune to mistakes He was chastised multiple times by Moroni in his attempts to obtain the plates He lost the 116 pages of translated manuscript that he had been entrusted with He argued with many saints, even mocked some of them openly He got into a fistfight with his brother, one of the Twelve Apostles He quarreled repeatedly with Emma over the issue of plural marriage Yet, in spite of all of his errors, Joseph had a repentant heart, and the Lord was able to trust in him to restore His kingdom on earth It speaks wonders to me about the mercy of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and should bring peace to the hearts of all of us who feel like we too are constantly coming up short This message is a theme that has been repeated often in recent General Conferences Maybe it s just my heart softening, but I feel that the leaders of the Church have put a renewed emphasis on the idea that, while we strive for perfection, we don t have to be perfect yet It s not that they have become tolerant of sin, because they haven t, but I believe they have encouraged us to be understanding of man s weakness and to not judge too harshly They acknowledge that each of us will stumble along the road to perfection, and that the Lord blesses us for every effort to correct our mistakes and continue along His path This was the message I took away from Saints that the Lord want s all men and women to come unto Him, and that through Him, we can do a great work. Awesome bookliterally couldn t put it down I shy away from history books, but Saints 1 is a captivating read despite being history Written in a narrative documentary style, it was quick, interesting, and compelling reading It is a chronological compilation of carefully researched books, papers, and quotes from Joseph Smith and his contemporaries, giving us a rounded view of the gospel that doesn t shy away from the controversial moments in early church history it does not go beyond information found in historical sources When the text includes even minor details, such as facial expressions or weather conditions, it is because these details are found in or reasonably deduced from the historical record While reading, if a new piece of the story is discovered, one can find the citation and in many cases follow a digital link to read the original source My advice to critical readers is to manage expectations You won t find in depth explorations of these topics in the text as it is intended to be accessible to a global readership But you can find hundreds of pages of supplementary material in the meticulous footnotes and the Church History Topics essays I agree with Michael, who said in his review, If you don t know much about Church history, I would say this is an excellent starting point If there are aspects of the Prophet Joseph Smith s life that disturb you because of his being subject to the frailties of human nature, this book will likely acknowledge those aspects and touch on them, but will do little to assuage those concerns.If you really want to know if Joseph Smith was a Prophet I would recommend that you follow the Savior s council as found in Matthew chapter 7 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.You cannot know the fruits of Joseph s works without reading the Book of Mormon, and deciding whether or not it is what he claims it was through study and prayer Having grown up as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints I was familiar with many of the stories and facts presented in the book, but there are many incidents and details in the book that were new to me All of the stories were told in such a compelling manner that it constantly pulled me back to want to read.This eBook and Audio book are both free on the LDS Tools app Kindle Store 16.99 I listened to the audio version which I believe must be computer generated audio because many of the names and terms were incorrectly pronounced, i.e phonetically instead of by common usage This was a bit annoying, but worth it since I have so little time to sit and read and 1065 pages hearing the names of Moroni, Nephi, and Melchizedek mispronounced was worth it I appreciate the Church History Department, under direction of The First Presidency, and the way they are making all details of our history available A favorable aspect of the new book is its thorough development of women s voices from the very beginning and throughout the narrative We are enriched by those stories finally being center stage alongside those of the men I highly recommend this book to everyone, of every faith, members and nonmembers both It opens the gates of understanding and scholarship to readers at every level There s a lot of fascinating history here, and it s told well, extensively footnoted and well worth reading I am hoping Saints 2 is released soon 4.5I will admit to being very excited about this book when I first heard about it from an editor around a year ago The editor is a very well known and respected Latter day Saint fiction author When she described the scope and effort going into this book series , I thought, awesome.Saints should be read by every member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, like Jesus the Christ Given the dense previous records of church history and how it stops before the global expansion, this is a book that fits on any shelf For a complete biography of Joseph Smith, of course Joseph Smith Rough Stone RollingJoseph Smith Rough Stone Rolling would be preferable For a academic, but equally enjoyable, historical account leading through Mitt Romney s presidential run, I d recommend The Mormon People The Making of an American Faith This all said, as a work unto itself, and considering the effort the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints put into this book, everyone involved deserves a round of applause Ten, fifteen years ago, I remember sitting in a friend s home and discussing how essential it was for people to become acquainted with the history of the church, including the discomforting elements, that have driven some to lose faith or trust in it as an institution This book is that and Undoubtedly there will be complaints about the relatively short treatment that the Book of Abraham and other aspects of church history receive, but it couldn t be 10,000 pages after all Book of Mormon translation, Plural Marriage including the earliest aspects of it , The Kirtland Safety Society, early Apostleship in the latter days, Joseph s martyrdom, Black Saints, it all did than just dot the book, there were fair treatments I feel the matters were addressed with respect to the time, for example, the Kirtland Safety Society and Polygamy were major issues that caused schisms in the early church and the writers editors tackled these issues It was very well done My favorite part of the book is coming to a better understanding of the individuals, the names and the backgrounds behind some of the stories people frequently hear Through the meticulous research that has gone into it, this book becomes something that puts to bed and offers clarity regarding many Mormon myths and historic folklore As a book published by the church, of course it will take on a faith promoting angle, but the reality is that the history is being drawn from countless journals and available historic materials and it is a history I m not sure how other religious institutions would handle themselves if they derived from the modern era and were so heavily scrutinized This book contains a bit of self reflection, but mostly history and what truth is available Some questions simply cannot be answered, but the thoughtful narrative, focus on storytelling, and precision in recounting the foundation of the church is sure to inform and edify I look forward to future volumes as they are made available Disclaimer I listened to the book The reader was not distracting, but neither were they engaging Listening is a viable way of tackling the book. Most engaging LDS church history book I ve read, does not skirt the controversial parts of the history, while being still faith building. As a former member of the LDS church who lost his faith largely over issues in LDS history, I find it interesting to put my finger on the pulse of how they are telling their story So, I decided to read this book.First off, the narrative style of this history book is engaging and very readable The personal stories are inspiring and it was nice to see that the church is becoming comfortable talking about things that have been, well, glossed over in the past Some might say that they were hidden For example, we see straightforward acknowledgments that Joseph Smith smoked and drank throughout his life, or that he was aware of and approved of the actions of the Danites in Missouri The book also contextualizes a lot of the history, albeit in a still slanted way When I was reading LDS history books I was once told, You wouldn t go to a Ford dealership to get good information on a Chevrolet, would you Well, I had to admit that I wouldn t but I also had to point out that Chevrolet dealerships aren t the best place for unbiased information on Chevrolets either This book is a Chevrolet dealership s attempt at candor about their own cars after having been rocked with several large and public recalls I don t know, that s the best metaphor I can come up with.A good example of this is the treatment of the Missouri Mormon War We get a very detailed and moving account of the Haun s Mill Massacre And don t get me wrong, that was a truly horrifying event true evil in action by the men who committed those actions But when we get to the Battle of Crooked River, we don t get an account of the capture and vicious mutilation of Samuel Tarwater by the Mormon combatants That part gets skipped And that s a real shame because this one sided storytelling a really big part of what led me out of this church This book like the church history stories I listened to as a small child portrays the history as a cosmic battle between God and Satan It is a childish, black and white way of looking at the world Everything is couched in that context and the real people on both sides of the conflict with their own real hopes, fears, and dreams get lost Their real stories are so much interesting and understandable when you look at them from their real points of view in a balanced way This history book is balanced than any the church has ever produced, but it is not at the point where it could be considered balanced This is the Chevrolet salesman who is trying to acknowledge some of what everyone knows about his cars because he knows it will be insulting not to.I actually enjoyed it quite a bit for the first 2 3 of the book I did get frustrated toward the end when the book started to hit some of my least favorite apologetics for Joseph Smith It is clear that the church is still very uncomfortable facing some aspects of Joseph Smith s life For example, you won t find any accounts of when Joseph became physically violent with people, when he asked for people s wives to test their loyalty, his high pressure marriage proposals to foster daughters, when he ruined the reputations of women who refused polygamous proposals, how Joseph made his money, etc Some things that are true are not very useful, I guess According to the book, Joseph s denials of polygamy and spiritual wifery are okay because of his careful wording Apparently, lying is acceptable as long as you carefully word your lies I almost want to go to a temple recommend interview so I can say, What a thing it is to be accused of drinking coffee when I can t find a mug in my hand I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago and I can prove them all perjurers Apparently, that is totally honest Oh brother.Continuing on with the bizarre Joseph Smith apologetics, at one point the book asserts that Joseph didn t have many rules governing the practice of polygamy However, if I am not mistaken, DC 132 has a whole bunch of really specific rules about polygamy, and this is the revelation he supposedly received in the 1830s that he referred to but only produced much later The revelation starts out with God himself stating, My house is a house of order followed by all of the super specific rules about polygamy No, the issue isn t that Joseph lacked rules, it is that Joseph had a whole bunch of uber specific rules and then he went out and did a whole bunch of other, different weird stuff And you won t find out about any of that weirdness from this book You ll get just enough from this book so that you can think you know what s really going on, but you don t.At another point, the book recounts a time where Joseph, Emma, and Emily Partridge are present in a situation where Emma finally decides to go along with polygamy and chooses Emily to marry Joseph Then the book states that Emily decides not to tell Emma that she already married Joseph to spare Emma s feelings I almost screamed at the book, Emily decided We re going to blame this lie on Emily now What about Emma s lying gutless wonder of a husband Yeah, sorry That part really pissed me off Poor passive victim Joseph He d do the right thing if only someone would just let him If only teenage Emily would have just set things right with all of the much powerful adults in the room Barf.But I can see why the church is so reluctant to really go into depth on the life of Joseph Smith In the end, I left the church because I felt compelled to choose between a Monster Mormon God that orchestrated Joseph s actions and a Monster Joseph Smith The facts on the ground indicate that at least one of them is a monster Dealing with a Monster Joseph Smith was comfortable and made sense to me in the end It hurt when I finally realized that if I had lived near Joseph Smith in his time, I would never want my wife or daughters anywhere near him God, he was such a hero to me when I was young.Contrasting the whitewashing of Joseph is the treatment of William Law I guess I get it, the church needs to see him as a top ranking agent of Satan, otherwise the story reflects badly on Joseph But the fact is, if you read Willam Law s story from his point of view, his actions don t seem all that unreasonable Law spends years defending Joseph from vicious lies about polygamy only to find out that they are true I can empathize with the feeling of that betrayal and can totally see how that would lead to anger and a falling out and an attempt to set the record straight in print complete with angry name calling When reading this book, I read about all sorts of terrible things that Law did that I had never heard about in all of my LDS history reading So I followed the footnotes and read the accounts by some guy in the late 1800s in Utah who said he went on all of these secret missions as directed by Joseph Smith and gathered all this dirt on William Law and witnessed him doing all sorts of terrible things I m pretty sure I know why no other historian had brought up these facts It s because all of it reads like some old guy making up stories to get attention Some old guy that nobody has ever heard of just happens to have been Joseph s best friend and went on secret missions 40 years ago and didn t tell anybody until now My grandfather used to tell those kinds of stories and they were all made up.Hey, but I guess it could have happened, right I don t know for sure this old guy is lying It sure reads like it, but I don t know for sure 100% One thing I do know for sure is that this book would have never taken a disparaging comment about Joseph Smith as fact with flimsy evidence like this There are two standards of evidence If someone says something good about Joseph Smith or bad about William Law, the bar is low The evidence is probably true If someone says something bad about Joseph or good about William Law, the bar is high and the evidence is probably false This is a good method to use to reinforce a childish, black and white view of the world, but not a good way to figure out the interesting story of what really probably happened, and certainly not a good way to figure out if you are wrong.Overall, I d much rather read this than Our Heritage It s way interesting and balanced than that, but it still isn t anywhere near as balanced as something from a top notch historian who is trying their best to apply consistent standards of evidence to figure out what most probably happened If you really want to understand what went on, you need to find someone like that to read. I learned a lot about this time period I also had many good feelings So much we just cant comprehend about this time period I m so glad I read this.