Levi Peterson - Juanita Brooks: Mormon Woman Historian

The following review was provided from the LDS Bookshelf mailing list...

I have been reading "Juanita Brooks" by Levi Peterson, U of U Press 1988. Run! Do not walk to find this book and buy it! It has been one of the best books I have read. The writing style is friendly like Linda Sillitoe's in Salamander and informative as Stan Kimball's in the Heber C. Kimball bio. I have learned and laughed so much from this book!

You will understand what a struggle it was for Juanita to write. The rejections, the interruptions, and distractions, the lack of respect by peers, her need to be accepted by GAs and the church, all come through the pages of this book. I appreciate Mountain Meadows Massacre, John D. Lee, A Mormon Chronicle and the rest of her writings so much more. I am amazed at the input Dale Morgan gave in Mountain Meadows Massacre. He gave Juanita the outline for the book and she followed it exactly. He was a genius. All of Juanita's conclusions and interpretations seem to have stood the test of time. This is amazing with all the obstacles that lay before her in writing this book. Stanford Press being so difficult on her also shocked me.

A historical point came out in the book that I was unfamiliar with. Juanita had not seen the John D. Lee diaries that are now in "A Mormon Chronicle" before she wrote Mountain Meadows Massacre. After receiving the typescript of "A Mormon Chronicle" diaries she found Brigham Young's reaction to the Massacre that he gave to John D. Lee on May 31, 1861. I had never read this before.

Levi Peterson examines her feelings toward Brigham Young, and I think he does a very good job. Juanita seems to have some hostility toward Brigham Young for his treatment towards John D. Lee and the pioneers in Dixie. She felt he used JDL as a scapegoat for the Mountain Meadow's Massacre, and she felt that the people in Salt Lake City looked at the pioneers in Dixie as second class citizens. She was also angry at Brigham Young for sending the people to such a desolate land without the help that they needed. I found this whole discussion very interesting in understanding her writings.


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