Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling


Richard Lyman Bushman

Inspired by a recent trip to Salt Lake City, and a tour guide at the former homestead of Brigham Young, I read the biography titled Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Lyman Bushman.  Bushman is part of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints so I assumed there would be a great amount of bias in the book.  Although I knew nothing about the religion or Joseph Smith the Prophet, the book was well balanced. 

The book takes us from Smith’s poor childhood to his assassination.  The author walks us through Smith’s encounter with a former Egyptian Prophet through the many attempts Smith and his fellow worshippers had at making a living and finding a community in which to settle.  We see Smith struggle and fail repeatedly yet his congenial and at times self-effacing humor made the man relatable to others who were looking for the best way to live and worship God. 

One can debate whether Smith found golden tablets and was able to translate them just as one might also question aspects of any religion.  The Book is about a man – a human – who had many faults but also many talents and beliefs tied to the way man should live and worship God to achieve salvation.

I found the book rich with information on the plight and the suffering of the Mormon people.  The book also addressed in detail some of the more scandalous aspects of the religion such as the translation of the plates and the act of polygamy.

I enjoy reading and learning about famous figures in history so I was glad I bought Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling and gained a little knowledge into this man and the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints religion.  I am too uninformed to determine whether Joseph Smith’s discovery claims and various revelations are real, but I am glad I took the time to educate myself on an important part of history.  The book is a compelling read and easy to digest which is a testament to Bushman’s writing ability.