Thursday, May 27, 2004

Historians Debate Krakauer 

by Dave
The Deseret News has a short piece reporting remarks at the just-concluded Mormon History Association conference by two LDS historians commenting on Jon Krakauer's recent book, Under the Banner of Heaven.

Craig Foster, affiliated with the LDS Family History Library and also a FARMS author, "delved into Krakauer's family background." Here's a quote from the article:
Raised in an "atheist household," Foster said the author has openly admitted his "skepticism and cynicism" regarding organized religion, and he has "demonstrated animosity toward those of faith." * * * He ended by calling Krakauer's work an "anti-Mormon book in a fancy cover," and a "hypersensationalistic work which will soon be forgotten."

Newell Bringhurst, a past president of the MHA, was the other speaker. The article quotes him as saying, "I think (Foster) goes a bit too far in exonerating Joseph Smith for taking teenage plural wives while excoriating Krakauer for delving into a highly sensitive topic." It summarizes his comments as follows: "The fact that Foster cites Krakauer's appearances at various book signings in Protestant churches and that his book has been recommended on anti-Mormon Web sites doesn't make him 'anti-Mormon,' Bringhurst said."

Personally, I like Krakauer and enjoyed the book. I collected some of the early media reviews of UBH in my very first post at the first incarnation of my other blog. The most interesting of the bunch was the semi-official LDS response by Richard E. Turley, another LDS historian "on the payroll" (with the Family and Church History Department).
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