Edward L. and Andrew Kimball’s 1977 biography, Spencer W. Kimball, is a candid and intimate portrait of the life of the twelfth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That book, which went up through President Kimball’s first year as president, set the standard at the time for Latter-day Saint biography. Other biographies written by the sons of Church Presidents preceded this one, perhaps most prominent among these is the biography of Joseph F. Smith by his son Joseph Fielding Smith. Edward and Andrew Kimball likewise had a close personal connection to their subject, but Spencer W. Kimball was different in that they approached their prophetic father with an unusual candor and openness combined with a meticulous attention to detail and a desire to get the story right. Several biographies that followed Spencer W. Kimball would take a candid approach to representing Church Presidents, among these is Leonard J. Arrington’s Brigham Young: American Moses and most recently Richard L. Bushman’s Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. The same basic spirit of openness, together with the added benefit of personal familiarity, characterizes Edward L. Kimball’s new biography Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball.
Edward Kimball began planning to write a book about President Kimball’s years as president even as he was finishing the first biography. Because of his unique relationship to the president of the Church, Edward Kimball was able to keep track of events in the life of the prophet and in the history of the Church as they unfolded. And because President Kimball was aware of this project, he was able to provide his son with biographical material that would not have been available to any other scholar. In addition, President Kimball himself kept meticulous journals throughout his entire life. Even after he became ill, his secretary, D. Arthur Haycock, who was President Kimball’s constant companion, kept an official journal. As he served as Church historian, Leonard J. Arrington called Spencer W. Kimball’s journals one of the greatest resources for historians of the LDS Church.