Joining a significant topic with one of its preeminent scholars is a certain formula for an important book. Such is Doing the Works of Abraham by B. Carmon Hardy. Polygamy shaped nineteenth-century Mormonism’s relationship with the remainder of the world, and Hardy has written numerous articles and books on the topic, including Solemn Covenant, named Best Book of the Year for 1992 by the Mormon History Association. The publication of this documentary history of nineteenth-century plural marriage is thus a major event in the ongoing scholarship on the topic.
The subtitle of the book accurately reflects the scope of the book, from the origins of plural marriage in Nauvoo, through its practice and opposition to it in Utah, and to its demise in the wake of federal prosecutions and the 1890 and 1904 Manifestos. Organized chronologically in general, it nevertheless includes chapters on topics such as Mormon defenses of polygamy, opponents’ arguments, and individuals’ experience living the principle. The coverage is comprehensive on polygamy within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, concluding with only a brief discussion and one document about fundamentalism.