In this three-volume set, author Brian Hales presents an exhaustive study of plural marriage as practiced and introduced by Joseph Smith. This work is the product of five years of effort undertaken with the assistance of researcher Don Bradley. With nearly 1,500 pages of combined text, not counting the index, Hales's volumes are ambitious by any measure and are impressive for their sheer scope, attention to detail, and thorough consideration of all available sources. Hales has aspired to publish a work that includes as many accounts regarding Joseph's plural marriage as can be found, whether friendly, antagonistic, or otherwise. He explains: "If in ten years, researchers appraise these three volumes as containing perhaps 90 percent of available evidence, then, as the author, I will be pleased" (introduction, 1:xi).
Hales is no stranger to the topic of polygamy, having written several prior works on post-Manifesto polygamy found among fundamentalist groups. These include Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: The Generations after the Manifesto, which he authored with the editorial assistance of Lavina Fielding Anderson. That 2006 book won the "Best Book of 2007 Award" from the John Whitmer Historical Association.