In Shakers, Mormons, and Religious Worlds, Stephen Taysom, an assistant professor of religious studies at Cleveland State University, has written an intriguing and theoretically rich monograph that compares Shaker and Mormon approaches to religious identity formation and boundary maintenance. Although Shakerism dwindled as a religious movement in the twentieth century, Shakers and Latter-day Saints in the nineteenth century stood out as examples of successful new movements on the American religious scene. Taysom's comparison of Latter-day Saints and Shakers places him within a select group of scholars, most notably Mario DePillis, Lawrence Foster, and Spencer Fluhman, who have studied Shakers and Mormons together and placed them within the scholarly world of communal studies. Even though the United States has long been identified in the popular imagination as a land of rugged individualism and free market capitalism, communalism has been a consistent theme throughout American history and has manifested itself in a dizzying array of groups. Taysom's book points to the advantages of integrating Mormonism further within the framework of communal studies.
Shakers, Mormons, and Religious Worlds establishes Stephen Taysom as an insightful historian of the Latter-day Saint experience and will shape our understanding of how Latter-day Saints understood their relationship with the broader world.