This daily feature is an introduction to a full book review by Brett D. Dowdle. To read the full text of this review, follow the link below.
As he did with his earlier biographies—My Best for the Kingdom: History and Autobiography of John Lowe Butler, a Mormon Frontiersman and Stand by My Servant Joseph: The Story of the Joseph Knight Family and the Restoration—the late William G. Hartley reminds us of the value and importance of studying the lives of ordinary Latter-day Saints without ecclesiastical position in Faithful and Fearless: Major Howard Egan, Early Mormonism and the Pioneering of the American West. Similar to the stories of both Butler and the Knight family, Hartley shows that, when examined closely, Egan’s life was far from ordinary.
Beyond its exploration and insights into the life of Howard Egan, Faithful and Fearless is a model of what can be done with the Latter-day Saint genealogical impulse. The vast collection of diaries, autobiographies, and correspondence from early Latter-day Saints provides rich opportunities to highlight the lives of those who are largely forgotten, demonstrating that their lives were far from insignificant. Furthermore, Hartley shows the value of dealing with the tragedies and problems of their lives rather than highlighting merely the best in them and ignoring the worst. This willingness illuminates the world in which they lived and helps us avoid the tendency to paint caricatures rather than accurate portraits. At the same time, Hartley refuses to allow a single portion of Egan’s narrative to color the entirety of his life. The result is an impressive and substantive biography that reveals the depth and nuance of an ordinary Latter-day Saint.