About this item

On June 27, 1844, a mob stormed the jail in the dusty frontier town of Carthage, Illinois. Clamorous and angry, they were hunting down a man they saw as a grave threat to their otherwise quiet lives: the founding prophet of Mormonism, Joseph Smith. They wanted blood.At thirty-nine years old, Smith had already lived an outsized life. In addition to starting his own religion and creating his own "Golden Bible" - the Book of Mormon - he had worked as a water-dowser and treasure hunter. He'd led his people to Ohio, then Missouri, then Illinois, where he founded a city larger than fledgling Chicago. He was running for president. And, secretly, he had married more than thirty women.In American Crucifixion, Alex Beam tells how Smith went from charismatic leader to public enemy: How his most seismic revelation - the doctrine of polygamy - created a rift among his people; how that schism turned to violence; and how, ultimately, Smith could not escape the consequences of his ambition and pride.

About the Author

Alex Beam

I am a writer with a motley assortment of credits, including the Introduction to Arie Zand's 'Political Jokes of Leningrad,' for which I was paid the princely sum of $500 in 1982. Also: two novels about Russia; and three - soon to be four  - non-fiction books on various subjects. I worked for Business Week magazine in Los Angeles, Moscow and Boston, a cheery eight years of my life I now call The Lost Weekend.

In 1987, I started working at the Boston Globe, where I became seriatim, a business columnist, an Op-Ed columnist and finally a columnist in what used to be called the Living Arts section. I took a buyout in early 2013 and am now writing a weekly column in the Opinion section. I have won a few awards, including some Best of Boston citations, a First Place award for commentary from the Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, a Massachusetts Book Award and an extremely lucrative (now defunct) John Hancock Award for Excellence in Financial Writing. I was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford for the academic year 1996-1997, which was an award of sorts, in addition to being lots of fun.

The Globe allowed me to write occasional humor columns for the since-renamed International Herald Tribune, as well as the first-in-the-world squash blog, for Vanity Fair. My friends and I used to read and post "hate mail" podcasts for the Globe website, reading letters from irate readers. Alas, our efforts failed to attract much of an audience. Further proof, if any were needed, that hate doesn't pay.

I now write for a variety of publication in addition to the Globe and appear weekly on WGBH's "Boston Public Radio" show with Jim Braude and Margery Eagan. My next book, "The Feud: Vladimir Nabokov, Edmund Wilson and the End of Beautiful l Friendship": will appear in December.

I have been married for a very long time and my three adult sons seem to be thriving, for which much thanks.

Read Next Recommendation

Discuss with your friends

Report incorrect product information.