For the general reader as well as the specialist, Truman G. Madsen’s biography of B. H. Roberts will fill a long-standing gap. Defender of the Faith provides a chronological treatment of the life of Elder Roberts from his birth in Lancashire, England, in 1857 to his death in Salt Lake City in 1933, highlighting in a sympathetic manner his childhood, conversion, gathering to Zion, youth, and Church service.
Son of a ne’er-do-well, B. H. Roberts lived a life in England that was virtually a page from a Dickens novel. After his mother joined the Church, the family was torn apart, and Roberts’s mother left him in England while she emigrated to America. He and his sister eventually joined her, but no before he had been subjected to the worst that early nineteenth-century England had to offer. In Utah, B. H. endured the harshness of the nineteenth-century Utah mining frontier until he returned to Centerville where he lived as a young tough until he was apprenticed to a blacksmith. Eleven years old before he learned to read, he experienced a conversion to the printed and spoken work which eventually made him one of the foremost scholars, writers, and religious leaders in the Church.