John Sorenson’s new book is a welcome addition to the field of Book of Mormon studies. It is the first serious attempt by a noted scholar trained in the cultures of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica to describe the lifeways of the indigenous inhabitants of that region as they may relate to the artistic, social, and literary heritage of peoples described in New World scripture. Each chapter presents a concise vignette summarizing an aspect of ancient Mesoamerican society: geography, subsistence, societal organization, government, militarism, religion, science, and art.
The real strength of the work, however, is its outstanding compilation of more than five hundred high quality photographs, maps, drawings, and reconstruction paintings that span the major cultural phases of Mesoamerica from ca. 1000 B.C. to modern indigenous groups that conserve traditional social practices whose roots lie in the pre-Columbian past. These carefully selected images bring to life the pre-Columbian world in a way otherwise impossible with a written text. Each illustration is well attributed and referenced with regard to date and provenance. This alone will make the book an indispensable tool for further research.