Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Book Reviews: Mormon Country by Wallace Stegner

Mormon Country:  This book presents a nice picture of Mormon Territory in the 1940s.  This book was published in 1942.  It starts with the description of a mutual dance, and talks about the importance of the mutual in a Mormon Community.  Wallace Stegner is very good at description, and this chapter is very fun.  He talks about the immigration of the Mormons to the Great Basin, including a chapter on the handcart pioneers.   He talks about “Mormon Trees” how Mormon Communities are lined with trees.  He can recognize Mormon land as a result.  He tells the stories of prominent Mormons J. Golden Kimball, and apostle who would get in trouble at the pulpit for colorful language; and Jesse Knight, who established mining in the Tintic era.  He was able to develop a righteous mining environment.  He also became very wealthy, and used much of his wealth to establish economic opportunities for other Mormons.  Some were successful and some weren’t, but still they provided employment. 
Stegner does not hesitate to talk about black spots as well, self-proclaimed prophets, polygamy.  He devotes a section of the book to talk about “gentiles” in Mormon Country.  He talks of the establishment of the dinosaur quarry outside of Vernal. He talks of prominent criminals, including Butch Cassidy.  Many who rode with him were Mormons, or at least raised Mormon.  I found many of his stories interesting and enjoyable, however a few were a bit too much, and focused on the negative.

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