Saturday, August 14, 2010

Porter Rockwell Book Reviews

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A while back I wrote a blog post about my fascination with Porter Rockwell, who was the boyhood friend of Joseph Smith and later the body guard for both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young (among other things). You can find that post here:

I recently read two books which I will review. The first, Stories from the Life of Porter Rockwell, by John W. Rockwell and Jerry Borrowman, was an interesting quick read. It is written by a descendant of Porter Rockwell, together with an award winning author. The book is a quick read of interesting tidbits about the man. It is remarkably unbiased for having been co-written by a descendant. The stories are quite endearing, as they give the reader a flavor for what life was like in the early days of the church. Some were stories that I had not yet heard about Porter Rockwell. I came away with a better understanding of the man's character, as well as his devotion to the gospel. It whet my appetite to read the biography which I will review next.

The second book I read was Porter Rockwell, A Biography, by Richard Lloyd Dewey. This is a remarkably well documented biography. The book is set up in two parts: a) the biography itself, and b) notes or further information. The notes are every bit as interesting as the biography itself. I found myself stopping at the end of each chapter to read the notes that applied to that particular chapter.

In addition to being an excellent biography of Porter Rockwell, the book is also a valuable resource for learning about the early history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I came away with a much better understanding of Porter Rockwell the man, as opposed to Porter Rockwell the legend.

As I said in my earlier post, there is a great danger to judging history from our perspective. The life of Porter Rockwell was very rough, but the character of the old west was also very rough. It's simply not fair to just history by the standards of our times. Both books made me feel like I was living in the old west. I must admit that while I admire the tenacity and intestinal fortitude of my fore bearers, I feel extremely blessed to live in the modern era. Unfortunately, we very often take it for granted.

Both books are certainly worth your time, and you will come away with a new understanding of life on the frontier.

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