F. RICHARD HAUCK. Deciphering the Geography of the Book of Mormon: Settlements and Routes in Ancient America. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1988.
JOHN L. SORENSON. An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co. and the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1985.
A common theme shared by the authors of the two books under review is the creation of a geographical model for the historical and cultural setting of the Book of Mormon. Both authors have advanced degrees in archaeology and anthropology and a knowledge of the contents of the Book of Mormon. They are thus well qualified to deal with this research topic. Both authors place the lands and events of the Book of Mormon in the cultural area of Mesoamerica (central and southern Mexico and northern Central America) but with some significant differences in the location of specific lands and cities.
Three important questions will be posed to evaluate the approach and results of the two authors’ research. First, What type of society is described in the Book of Mormon? Second, Are the authors justified in limiting the historical events and geographical locations of the Book of Mormon to Mesoamerica? Third, To what extent have the authors used the dimensions of historical or cultural geography in analyzing the ancient setting of the Book of Mormon?