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In Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, Richard Lyman Bushman, an esteemed American cultural historian and a practicing Mormon, tells how Smith formed a new religion from the ground up. Moving beyond the popular stereotype of Smith as a colorful fraud, the book explores the inner workings of his personality—his personal piety, his temper, his affection for family and friends, and his incredible determination. It describes how he received revelations and why his followers believed them.
The book gives more attention to Joseph Smith’s innovative religious thought than any previous biography. As Bushman writes, “His followers derived their energy and purpose from the religious world he brought into being.” Some of the teachings were controversial, such as property redistribution and plural marriage, but Smith’s revelations also delved into cosmology and the history of God. They spoke of the origins of the human personality and the purpose of life. While thoroughly Christian, Smith radically reconceived the relationship between humans and God. The book evaluates the Mormon prophet’s bold contributions to Christian theology and situates him culturally in the modern world.
Published on the two hundredth anniversary of Smith’s birth, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling is an in-depth portrayal of the mysterious figure behind one of the world’s fastest growing faiths.
“At last a Joseph Smith to which Mormons and non-Mormons alike can relate. Meticulously researched, beautifully written, and gripping in its narrative detail, this is Richard Bushman at his vintage best. There is no question that this biography is the best book ever written about Mormonism's founding father, and America’s greatest home-grown prophet.”
—Harry Stout, author of The Divine Dramatist: George Whitefield And the Rise Of Modern Evangelicalism
“Hands down, this is the most balanced and informed study of America’s larger-than-life Prophet and Seer, Joseph Smith. It is also an important history of the founding era of Mormonism’s founding era. Rough Stone Rolling is for insiders and outsiders alike, a landmark in Mormon writing and a contribution to American religious studies. It has grace, style, and intelligence—and quiet piety and frank honesty, too.”
—Ronald W. Walker, author of Mormon History