Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding
“A useful and interesting volume.... I wholeheartedly recommend this book to all.” — Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture
“It is a book that will be read and discussed for years to come.” — Robert L. Millet
Preview the volume here.
Also available in ebook for your Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and Apple.
In the last several years a wealth of information has been published on Joseph Smith's practice of polygamy. For some who were already well aware of this aspect of early Mormon history, the availability of new research and discovered documents has been a wellspring of further insight and knowledge into this topic. For others who are learning of Joseph’s marriages to other women for the first time, these books and online publications (including the LDS Church's recent Gospel Topics essays on the subject) can be both an information overload and a challenge to one's faith.
In this short volume, Brian C. Hales (author of the 3-volume Joseph Smith’s Polygamy set) and Laura H. Hales wade through the murky waters of history to help bring some clarity to this episode of Mormonism’s past, examining both the theological explanations of the practice and the accounts of those who experienced it first hand. As this episode of Mormon history involved more than just Joseph and his first wife Emma, this volume also includes short biographies of the 36 women who were married to the Prophet but whose stories of faith, struggle, and courage have been largely forgotten and ignored over time. While we may never fully understand the details and reasons surrounding this practice, Brian and Laura Hales provide readers with an accessible, forthright, and faithful look into this challenging topic so that we can at least come toward a better understanding.
Praise for Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding:
“Few matters of LDS history have proven to be as faith-sensitive as Joseph Smith’s plural marriages. While a number of efforts have been made in recent years to shed light on this challenging phenomenon, nothing has brought greater clarity, enlightenment, and, particularly for believing Saints, spiritual reassurance, than has the work of researcher Brian Hales. He and his wife Laura have now rendered a monumental service to Mormons and interested observers by bringing clarity and better understanding to this topic. I for one am grateful for the context, perspective, and both straightforward and faithful answers provided for so many of the questions surrounding Nauvoo polygamy. It is a book that will be read and discussed for years to come.” — Robert L. Millet, Professor Emeritus of Religious Education, Brigham Young University
“Toward a Better Understanding is warmly recommended for anyone who wants to learn more about Joseph’s plural marriages but particularly to those just venturing into its sometimes choppy waters. Were I not vulnerable to the sin of envy, I’d wish I had written it.” — Gregory L. Smith, Interpreter
“I enjoyed this book and found it very helpful.... The book allowed me to understand the relationships between events more clearly than I have before. I found the book to be faith-affirming and a further testimony of Joseph Smith’s life as a prophet of God. I would recommend it for those struggling with the topic as well as those who want to know more so they can be prepared for questions from others.” — Suzanne Long Foster, Interpreter
“Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding is an excellent and essential volume that will not only answer questions and offer solace to “truth seekers [who] may encounter details that are uncomfortable when studying early polygamy” but will also be a useful and interesting volume for those who have spent years studying the subject. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to all.” — Craig L. Foster, Interpreter
“Here’s the bottom line: Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding is a badly needed treatment of Nauvoo polygamy as practiced by Joseph Smith that does an admirable job covering the facts and providing many quotations from actual sources.” — David Banack, Times and Seasons
“Despite the book's brevity, it is detailed enough to address, or touch on, the full range of controversies associated with this topic. This book is a welcomed condensation of Brian Hales's massive 2013 Joseph Smith's Polygamy, which is a three-volume set on the same topic.” — M. Scott Bradshaw, BYU Studies Quarterly, Vol. 55, No. 1
About the Authors:
Laura Harris Hales is a freelance copy editor, author, and educator. She received a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree in Professional Writing from New England College. She has worked as both a paralegal and as an adjunct professor of English. After marrying in 2013, she found herself immersed in the study of LDS Church history. With her husband, she maintains JosephSmithsPolygamy.org. Laura is the mother of five children.
Brian C. Hales is a board-certified anesthesiologist in Layton, Utah, and graduated from Utah State University. He is the award-winning author of six books on Mormon polygamy, including a three-volume series on the history and theology of Joseph Smith’s Polygamy. Along with his wife, Laura, he maintains JosephSmithsPolygamy.org. Brian’s entire database of polygamy-related documents may be accessed at MormonPolygamyDocuments.org. He is the father of four children.