American Crucifixion

American Crucifixion Cover

American Crucifixion

The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church

By Alex Beam

PublicAffairs, Hardcover, 9781610393133, 334pp.

Publication Date: April 22, 2014

On June 27, 1844, a mob stormed the jail in the dusty frontier town of Carthage, Illinois. Clamorous and angry, they were hunting down a man they saw as a grave threat to their otherwise quiet lives: the founding prophet of Mormonism, Joseph Smith. They wanted blood.
At thirty-nine years old, Smith had already lived an outsized life. In addition to starting his own religion and creating his own Golden Bible the Book of Mormonhe had worked as a water-dowser and treasure hunter. He d led his people to Ohio, then Missouri, then Illinois, where he founded a city larger than fledgling Chicago. He was running for president. And, secretly, he had married more than thirty women.
In "American Crucifixion," Alex Beam tells how Smith went from charismatic leader to public enemy: How his most seismic revelationthe doctrine of polygamycreated a rift among his people; how that schism turned to violence; and how, ultimately, Smith could not escape the consequences of his ambition and pride.
Mormonism is America's largest and most enduring native religion, and the martyrdom of Joseph Smith is one of its transformational events. Smith's brutal assassination propelled the Mormons to colonize the American West and claim their place in the mainstream of American history. "American Crucifixion" is a gripping story of scandal and violence, with deep roots in our national identity.

About the Author
Alex Beam is a columnist for the Boston Globe. Before joining the Globe as a business reporter in 1986, he worked for Newsweek and BusinessWeek. He is the author of Gracefully Insane, The Americans Are Coming!, and A Great Idea at the Time. Alex lives in Boston.