The most important reformer and innovator in American religious history, Joseph Smith has remained a fascinating enigma to many, both inside and outside the Mormon Church he founded. Born in 1805, Smith grew up during the "Second Great Awakening," when secular tumult had spawned radical religious fervor and countless new sects. His contemplative nature and soaring imagination were nurtured in the close, loving family created by his deeply devout parents. His need to lead and be recognized was met by his mission as God's vehicle for a new faith and by the hundreds who, magnetized by his charm and charismatic preaching, gave rise to the Mormon Church. Remini's vital portrait contextualizes Smith's enduring contribution to American life and culture within the distinctive characteristics of an extraordinary age.
"Impressive scholarship with a riveting narrative."—The New York Review of Books