Read No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith by Fawn M. Brodie Free Online
Book Title: No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith|
The author of the book: Fawn M. Brodie
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Loaded: 1384 times
Reader ratings: 6.8
Date of issue: August 1st 1995
ISBN 13: 9780679730545
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 424 KB
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This book was not the anti-Mormon expose I thought it might be. In fact, I was surprised by how generous Fawn Brodie was with Joseph Smith. Despite her own religious skepticism, she seemed to have a real affection for Joseph Smith and his people. Where many writings about him are propaganda intended either to promote or crush faith, her agenda was to understand the man.
I was impressed by the wealth of information she had access to back in the 40’s. I’ve read a bit about early LDS church history, and it seems that succeeding biographies have added only details to her impressive work. Even Bushman’s biography which came out last year adds little to what she wrote, and she was the better writer (note that Bushman’s book is still in my “currently reading” folder – it is very well-documented and thorough, but it is a bit of a slog).
At first I was skeptical of the usefulness of her commentary. She is the type of biographer who is unafraid to insert her own ideas. Given the inflammatory nature of her topic, I wondered if she would have done better to just state the facts and let them speak for themselves. But I came to appreciate her narrative. Any work is in some way a reflection of the author, and in writing this book Brodie convinced me that she was a sensitive, intelligent person possessed with academic integrity. I respect her enough to want to know what she thought about her subject.
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Read information about the authorFawn McKay Brodie (September 15, 1915 – January 10, 1981) was a biographer and professor of history at UCLA, best known for Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History, a work of psychobiography, and No Man Knows My History, the first prominent non-hagiographic biography of Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement.
Raised in Utah in a respected, if impoverished, Latter-day Saint (LDS) family, Fawn McKay drifted away from religion during her years of graduate work at the University of Chicago and married the ethnically Jewish national defense expert Bernard Brodie, with whom she had three children. Although Fawn Brodie eventually became one of the first tenured female professors of history at UCLA, she is best known for her five biographies, four of which aim to incorporate the alleged insights of Freudian psychology.
Brodie's controversial depiction of Joseph Smith as a fraudulent "genius of improvisation" has been described as a "beautifully written biography ... the work of a mature scholar [that] represented the first genuine effort to come to grips with the contradictory evidence about Smith's early life." Her psychobiography of Thomas Jefferson became a best-seller and reintroduced Jefferson's slave and purported mistress Sally Hemings to popular consciousness even before advances in DNA testing increased evidence of a sexual liaison. Nevertheless, Brodie's study of Richard Nixon's early career, completed while she was dying of cancer, demonstrated the hazards of psychobiography in the hands of an author who loathed her subject.
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