Secrets and Wives

Secrets and Wives

The Hidden World of Mormon Polygamy

Book - 2011
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There are some 40,000 Mormon fundamentalists in America today, all of whom cleave to the doctrine of polygamy. But outside of what we see on HBO's Big love and the occasional news story when a scandal breaks, what do we really know about their world? Polygamy is a diaspora--a hidden sprawl--and in Secrets and wives, journalist Sanjiv Bhattacharya gains unprecedented access to these communities.
Publisher: Berkeley, CA : Soft Skull Press/Counterpoint, c2011.
ISBN: 9781593764081
Characteristics: x, 367 p. ;,23 cm.
Alternative Title: Secrets & wives


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Feb 18, 2019

An excellent overview of the polygamous offshoots of the "establishment" Salt Lake City Mormon church by focusing on a few representative sects, some fairly large, others small and little-known. Bhattacharya interviewed various past and current members, and in a few cases got close to the actual leaders.

Bhattacharya loses a star for two reasons: 1) He let his social liberalism interfere with his moral assessment, and comes to the dangerous conclusion that polygamy should be legalized,. This, he manages after interviewing numerous people (women, especially) who have been grievously harmed by this unnatural practice. 2) Like Ahab pursuing his whale, Bhattacharya seeks , and fails to find, a definitive answer to whether the polygamous patriarchs actually believe in their interpretation and practice of Joseph Smith's "revelations" and subsequent teachings on polygamy. Are they sincere? Are they cynical manipulators and exploiters? Did they come to their positions as true believers, and then stay on because of the power and sex? Or did they seek authoritative positions for the sake of power, money, and sex, and and then come to believe their own pronouncements?

Bhattacharya has no answer. But if you want a good assessment of the nature and variety of Utah polygamous groups, "Secrets & Wives" is a good start.

Mar 23, 2015

Inevitable and interesting.

Aug 12, 2012

Very interesting book about Mormon fundamentalist polygamists. It manages to be both entertaining and informative at the same time. It loses steam about 2/3 of the way through, but still manages to provide something worth reading.

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