Brian Hales


Brian C. Hales is the author of six books dealing with Mormon polygamy—most recently, with his wife, Laura,  Joseph Smith's Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding. He is one of the foremost experts on Joseph Smith's polygamy, and had published what is now the standard study on the subject, the 3 volume, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: History and Theology (Vol. 1: History; Vol. 2: History; Vol. 3: Theology) (Greg Kofford Books, 2013). His Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: The Generations after the Manifesto received the “Best Book of 2007 Award” from the John Whitmer Historical Association. He has presented at numerous meetings and symposia and published articles in The Journal of Mormon History, Mormon Historical Studies, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, as well as contributing chapters to The Persistence of Polygamy series. He maintains the website, and with his wife, Laura, He served a mission to Venezuela for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and sang with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for fourteen years. He is currently President-Elect of the John Whitmer Historical Association. Brian works as an anesthesiologist and has served as the president of both the Utah Medical Association and the Medical Staff at the Davis Hospital and Medical Center in Layton, Utah. Brian has an almost insatiable appetite for both learning and movie theater popcorn. He is also an avid runner and enjoys running half-marathons with his four children and their spouses.


Joseph Smith's Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding

In this short volume, Brian C. Hales 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.


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 serviceto 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: A Journal of Mormon Scripture

"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: A Journal of Mormon Scripture

"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: A Journal of Mormon Scripture

"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. It is sympathetic to the LDS position while not being overtly apologetic." --David Banack, Times and Seasons