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READ PDF Õ The Gathering of Zion ⚣ Pulitzer Prize winning author Wallace Stegner tells about a thousand mile migration marked by hardship and sudden death but unique in American history for its purpose, discipline, and solidarity Other Bison Books by Wallace Stegner include Mormon Country, Recapitulation, Second Growth, and Women on the Wall Another great Stegner book While most of us have read or heard about the Mormon s search for their promised land, Stegner takes us a step further and writes about the personal stories of some of those people who took the original trail There s a lot of Mormon history here that I d never known, making it evenfascinating. Though I loved the book Angle of Repose , I have to say that this book was a harder read It is the story of the Mormon Trail, from it s beginning in Illinois, and through the long and hard travels all the way to Salt Lake City I was very interested in reading about the trail and the Mormon mentality of helping others and working together for the common good For a long time I have been interested in Utopian societies and reading about the Mormons was great Mr Stegner made the choice to spea Though I loved the book Angle of Repose , I have to say that this book was a harder read It is the story of the Mormon Trail, from it s beginning in Illinois, and through the long and hard travels all the way to Salt Lake City I was very interested in reading about the trail and the Mormon mentality of helping others and working together for the common good For a long time I have been interested in Utopian societies and reading about the Mormons was great Mr Stegner made the choice to speak about this group of people from a sociological point of view and never once went into speaking about any religious views At times, the story lacked part of the backbone to the reasons and choices made by the Mormons, and though there was a little allusion to violent acts done by the Mormons, too little information was given to understand fully what happened historically Perhaps this book was writtenas an academia book and not meant to the general public, since many things were barely touched upon that would be valuable in understanding the Mormon history and world in general It is the story of the Mormon trail and the Mormon trail alone, with all the different people that went through it at different times and that emigrated into Zion.Since I began crossing over to Southern California and to Oregon on my trusty mini van over the past ten years, I have beenandinterested in the pioneers who did this same voyage, though the old fashion way with schooners and wagons and cattle and on foot, through miles and miles of Indian Territories and unoccupied lands Each year I try to readabout these trails and the people who dared go on from this part of the world and to venture forward into the unknown with little to bring along.The Mormon Trail is similar at point to the California and Oregon Trails, though at times it diverges and goes on anortherly route It seems that since Mormons cared about the people who would follow, they tooktime andpains to help level and fix the path, and in time, their trail became a better trail to follow.I learned several things that I had not known before The first being that Joseph Smith was massacred in Carthage, Illinois and that he never made the voyage to Salt Lake City, Utah All that came later with the second leader Brigham Young That though Mormons accepted bigamy as part of their religion, Emma Smith, Joseph s Smith s first wife, never did and in fact, remained in Illinois and began her own separate church, even though it is recorded that Joseph Smith had 29 wives That a Mormon man by the name of Piercy sketched a large number of places and people during this period of time, including several of the places the Mormons wintered and rested along the way, like Council Bluffs in Nebraska I smiled to think of it because some years ago I also painted a water color of Council Bluffs when we camped overnight on our way to visit their famous Zoo Mostly though, what I learned was the story of the Mormon migration, their hardships and troubles, and their will and resolution to make it come about, their sacrifice and their humanity Theirs was not an easy journey, and it took all their faith and all their will to endure, and even those that died, they died doing what they passionately believed in, and that I respect truly.My favorite quote The Kingdom is acohesive society even yet than most Americans know The Mormon zeal for genealogy, the temple rituals in which the living are baptized for the dead, the family reunions that may involve five hundred intricately related people, the persistence of undercover Fundamentalist Polygamy, may be subjects of occasional joking, defensiveness, or embarrassment, but the Mormon family and the beliefs that sanctify it are nevertheless sources of a profound sense of community, an almost smug satisfaction These people belong to one another, to a place, to a faith History, common effort, a quite remarkable social stability, and a notable cultural adaptation have made it so The closest thing to it in modern history is Israel, and Mormons are not blind to the parallels But this Israel isthan a century, finally at peace with its ancient enemies pg 300 Wallace Stegner provides an excellent history of the formative period of Mormon history from leaving Nauvoo shortly after Joseph Smith s legendary demise angry mob, jumping out of high windows, bloody scalps, pistols, jail cells, locks of hair to the coming of the railroad through their promised land and marking the end of the arduous treks by wagon or cart.Wallace Stegner would be an absolutely stellar blogger if he lived today He s got the thoughtfulness, critical thinking, historian Wallace Stegner provides an excellent history of the formative period of Mormon history from leaving Nauvoo shortly after Joseph Smith s legendary demise angry mob, jumping out of high windows, bloody scalps, pistols, jail cells, locks of hair to the coming of the railroad through their promised land and marking the end of the arduous treks by wagon or cart.Wallace Stegner would be an absolutely stellar blogger if he lived today He s got the thoughtfulness, critical thinking, historian s integrity, and work ethic for it He really exemplifies the present them in their terms, judge them in your own mantra heralded by the discipline He manages to balance the truly astounding dedication of Mormons as evidenced by what they were willing to go through which he admires and the fanatical absurdity of their pilgrimage also evidenced by what they were willing to go through.Writing about Mormons is something I find extra fascinating because it is so American They began not two hundred years ago on our own soil and are still a prominent theology today They also personify many of the qualities we associate with Americans a group persecuted, highly dedicated, hard working, drenched in manifest destiny, borderline fanatical insane, adventurous, uncompromising.Two things stick in my mind most about the Mormon s twenty or so year period of non rail exodus to Salt Lake Valley The first is the story of the group at Devil s Gate who were just scrimping by like crazy in the winter eating through boiled hide The extreme of it was when they were forced to eat a horse harness I say forced because they presumably could have ditched the fort and gone to Salt Lake Valley The second is the handcarts Handcarts Many years in a row thousands of Mormon s left from the Missouri watershed on foot, pulling handcarts the thousand or so miles to Salt Lake Heaps died, and others were permanently weakened by it and yet year after yearchoose to do it.The other thing it is impossible to forgot is the number of times Stegner speaks about the Mormon s digging tiny graves for their children who couldn t survive the trek the family was being tested by their deity I m not sure what the child was experiencing I d sure want to be the tested one and not the test But it is essential to retell the story The only way for the readers to internalize the hardship is through repetition.To conclude, allow me to share one of my favorite passages where Stegner, in spite of his deep admiration and fascination and historian s integrity simply cannot keep from trolling the self imposed condition of those at Devil s Gate The hide still had a lot of unpleasant glue in it, but they got it down this time it stuck to them, Dan Jones said, somewhat longer than they desired So Jones asked the Lord for further directions, and the Lord passed on His favorite recipe for boiled hide I m about 2 3 through this book and have really enjoyed it It s as if he said, What if the Mormon pioneers were real people with the normal range of human strengths frailities I ve usually read histories written by historians I much prefer histories written by writers And Stegner is definitely a writer I ve finished the book now highly recommend it especially the chapter on the handcart companies I was moved to tears r I m about 2 3 through this book and have really enjoyed it It s as if he said, What if the Mormon pioneers were real people with the normal range of human strengths frailities I ve usually read histories written by historians I much prefer histories written by writers And Stegner is definitely a writer I ve finished the book now highly recommend it especially the chapter on the handcart companies I was moved to tears reading it This was recommended to me by Gloy Wride, a woman I highly respect, and I m glad she told me about it A few long thoughts, in no particular order Stegner has a great talent for recognizing and validating individual humanity He s a great folklorist and I mean that as a high compliment When he talks about a part of Mormon history that is probablymyth than fact, he still acknowledges the role the myth has played in Mormon culture and doesn t belittle those who believe it Examples after discussing the evidence that Brigham Young probably never said This is the right place, drive on, he writes, Nevertheless one is glad that Woodruff either resurrected or happily misremembered Brigham s words If Brother Brigham didn t make that reverberating phrase, he should have Another example After reporting Richard Burton s less than favorable description of a dirty Scotch Mormon with two slattern Irish sisters for wives, he writes that the Saints will probably, in angry repudiation of what Richard Burton said of their grandfathers and great grandfathers, insist upon the right of those ancestors to respect for their faith, their endurance, their discipline And they will be at least as right as Burton.From this distance, and with the whole history of the Mormon Migration before my eyes, I am glad to take off my hat and salute even these with a degree of respect.The story of the Mormon Trail is a story of people, no better and no worse than other people, probably, but certainly as sternly tested as any, and with a right to their pride in the way they have borne the testing I was intrigued by Stegner s idea that the Saints were almost eager to suffer as a way of proving their righteousness I think there s something to that in the Missouri Nauvoo era, but I didn t buy it at the end when he discusses the Utah War I would think that a people who had just walked thousands of miles across the plains to escape a hostile nation had already proved themselves to themselves I think they wanted to be left alone, and I highly doubt any of them welcomed the news of Johnston s Army marching towards them in 1857.The book mentions lots and lots of people I think it would be confusing to someone with no prior knowledge of Mormon history Additionally, this book deals solely with the migration from Nauvoo, Illinois to Salt Lake City, Utah and says very little about the era from 1814 1846 or after 1858 I would recommend that someone just beginning to study the LDS church read a broader overview of church history first.The book ends by discussing Joseph Smith, the founder of the LDS Church Stegner writes that after walking through the streets of Nauvoo, Illinois, even an unbeliever is brought to the perception that man who started all this was no mere charlatan this was a mighty imagination, a man with an extraordinary capacity to move men He also describes him as ambiguous, unreliable, incautious, vain, charming a man with a vision The last line of the book is, Ultimately he is the object of every pilgrimage for if we understand him we can understand it all Ironically, I felt like Stegner never knew quite what to make of Joseph Smith I don t think I could articulate what his views are they re as varied as his list of adjectives Of course the writing is delightful One of my favorite passages was, She had a knack for making the best of things If it had hailed stones as big as baseballs she would have come out from shelter wondering if it wasn t a good time to make up a nice freezer of ice cream And, as an added bonus, I was surprised to find a letter from Franklin Richards describing in detail his experience of being driven from Nauvoo with his brother in law, George Wardle and his family George Wardle is my 3rd great grandfather I was thrilled to find this first hand report pg 93 in my book.In sum, I thought it was a wonderful, warm book that made the pioneers all theendearing by discussing them as real human beings with real problems and personalities