Book Review: An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins

Palmer, Grant H. 2002. An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins. Salt Lake City: Signature Books.

This was an interesting book, and it’s hard for me to respond to it. The introduction was the most interesting part. Palmer begins by stating that he is aware that the book will be difficult for many members of the church to accept. He insists that he has only the best intentions, and that he does not wish to have anybody decide to leave the church over what he has written. It is even more interesting, given that he was disfellowshipped for writing it two years after it’s publication.

Palmer recounts popular versions of LDS history, and then argues that these versions are not accurate. His research is well documented, and Palmer presents alternate interpretations of historical events. It is hard for me to judge with my limited knowledge of LDS history how balanced or truthful Palmers arguments are.

But I believe him when he says that he has only the best intentions. He specifically instructs converts or even second generation members to stop reading the book because he is worried his book will be hard to swallow. Ultimately, Palmer doesn’t present any new material that hasn’t been presented elsewhere (I don’t think), just new interpretations of historical documents. Ultimately, Palmer chooses not to believe the popular versions of LDS history we usually hear.

While reading the book, I thought it was a great example of how ultimately, history will neither prove, nor disprove the church. Those who want to believe will find reasons to believe. Those who want to disbelieve will also find their reasons.

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