William B. Smith: In the Shadow of a Prophet


By Kyle R. Walker

“A magnificent work.” — Standard Examiner

2016 Best Biography Award,
John Whitmer Historical Association

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Book Description:

Younger brother of Joseph Smith, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Church Patriarch for a time, William Smith had tumultuous yet devoted relationships with Joseph, his fellow members of the Twelve, and the LDS and RLDS (Community of Christ) churches. Walker's imposing biography examines not only William's complex life in detail, but also sheds additional light on the family dynamics of Joseph and Lucy Mack Smith, as well as the turbulent intersections between the LDS and RLDS churches. William B. Smith: In the Shadow of a Prophet is a vital contribution to Mormon history in both the LDS and RLDS traditions.

Read a Q&A with the author here.

Listen to an interview with the author here.

Praise for William B. Smith:

“Bullseye! Kyle Walker’s biography of Joseph Smith Jr.’s lesser known younger brother William is right on target. It weaves a narrative that is searching, balanced, and comprehensive. Walker puts this former Mormon apostle solidly within a Smith family setting, and he hits the mark for anyone interested in Joseph Smith and his family. Walker’s biography will become essential reading on leadership dynamics within Mormonism after Joseph Smith’s death.”
—Mark Staker, author of the award-winning Hearken, O Ye People: The Historical Setting of Joseph Smith’s Ohio Revelations

“This perceptive biography on William, the last remaining Smith brother, provides a thorough timeline of his life’s journey and elucidates how his insatiable discontent eventually tempered the once irascible young man into a seasoned patriarch loved by those who knew him.”
—Erin B. Metcalfe, president (2014–15) John Whitmer Historical Association

“Handsome, tall, eloquent, and charismatic, William Smith, Joseph Smith's last surviving brother, seemed well positioned to step into his prophet-brother's leadership shoes. Instead, he spent the decade after the martyrdom trying and failing to establish himself as the leader of a significant movement, repeatedly dabbling in polygamy, and repeatedly destroying instead of building relationships. Kyle Walker, approaching this gifted but turbulent man from a family dynamics perspective, gives him full credit for his achievement but also laments his insecurity, temper, and feeling of entitlement that so severely limited his achievement.”
—Lavina Fielding Anderson, Lucy's Book: A Critical Edition of Lucy Mack Smith's Family Memoir

“I suspect that this comprehensive treatment will serve as the definitive biography for years to come; it will certainly be difficult to improve upon. 
—Joe Steve Swick III, Association for Mormon Letters 

“The new biography of Smith ... is a magnificent work. Through extensive research, Walker has compiled a detailed biography that highlights not only the many dysfunctions that hampered Joseph’s younger brother, but spotlights his talents, and provides a poignancy, particularly in his later years, that makes you admire and root for the younger brother who was tossed from the main LDS Church a year-plus after Joseph’s death.”
—Doug Gibson, Standard Examiner

“Kyle Walker has further solidified his position as the leading expert on the Smith family with this extensive biography of Joseph Smith’s troubled younger brother, William.”
—Steve Flemming, Juvenile Instructor

Walker’s biography is an important addition to the growing literature on the rise of Mormonism in the nineteenth century and the Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family.
Richard Neitzel HolzapfelBYU Studies Quarterly

About the Author:

Kyle R. Walker received his PhD. In Marriage and Family Therapy from Brigham Young University. He is the author or editor of two books (United by Faith: The Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith Family and The Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith Family: A Family Process Analysis of a Nineteenth-Century Household), as well as numerous articles on Mormon history. He currently is a faculty member at BYU-Idaho, where he works in the Counseling Center. He and his wife Daylene are the parents of five children.

More Information:

653 pages
ISBN: 978-1-58958-503-4 (paperback) 978-1-58958-504-1 (hardcover)

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