Saturday, April 19, 2014

Alex Beam's "American Crucifixion"

Alex Beam is an award-winning columnist for the Boston Globe. His writing has also appeared in the Atlantic, Slate, the New York Times and many other magazines. His nonfiction books include Gracefully Insane: Life and Death Inside America's Premier Mental Hospital and A Great Idea at the Time, both New York Times Notable Books.

Beam applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church, and reported the following:
From page 99:
From the diary of Charlotte Haven, a non-Mormon resident of Nauvoo, Illinois, writing about polygamy: "I cannot believe that Joseph will ever sanction such a doctrine, and should the Mormons in any way engraft such an article on the religion, the sect would surely fall to pieces, for what community or State could harbor such outrageous immorality?"
Well, Ford Madox Ford got it right where American Crucifixion is concerned. Because it is on page 99 that I start to acquaint the reader with the radical Old Testament doctrine that cost the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith his life -- polygamy. "Celestial marriage," or "plural marriage" was revealed to Joseph by revelation, and kept secret from his Latter-day Saint followers until after his death. But it was indeed, "the worst-kept secret in [the Mormon colony of] Nauvoo," as I write, because Joseph and other church leaders had begun to "seal" themselves in marriage to young women starting in 1843 (earlier, in Joseph's case) and lurid rumors of "Old Joe Smith and his Mormon seraglio" had found their way into newspapers across the country.

A vicious mob of Mormon haters stormed the Carthage, Illinois jail where Joseph Smith was being held on questionable charges, charged up a flight of stairs to his second-floor cell, and gunned him down in cold blood. Joseph's body tumbled out the window, where a thug named William Voorhis supposedly pumped bullets into Smith's lifeless corpse. "You are the damned old chieftain," Voorhis shouted. "Now go see your spiritual wives in hell!"
Visit Alex Beam's column archive at the Boston Globe and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: Gracefully Insane.

The Page 69 Test: Gracefully Insane.

The Page 99 Test: Great Idea at the Time.

--Marshal Zeringue