Confessions of a Revisionist Historian: David L. Bigler on the Mormons and the West

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Product Code: XB360
Title: Confessions of a Revisionist Historian: David L. Bigler on the Mormons and the West
Author: David L. Bigler
Editor: Will Bagley
Publisher: Tanner Trust Fund and J. Willard Marriot Library
List Price: $29.95
Our Price: $27.00
Date: 2015
Pages: 286
Additional Info: With an Appreciation by Polly Aird


From inside jacket:

For much of his career, David Bigler and his critics used the term "revisionist historian" as an epithet. But after decades wading through what Wallace Stegner called the "morass" of early Mormonism's "enormous, repetitious, contradictory, and embattled' history, he concluded, "If ever there was a revisionist historian, I'm it. And if ever a chapter of our nation's history needed revising, it is this one."

The contrast between Utah's frontier and religious history make it a contested ground between those who see the state's past as a sacred story and those who consider it a prime stage for the Human Comedy. In this collection of his short works, David L. Bigler accepts a historian's obligation to reject counterfeit interpretations encouraging complacency and false pride and be as balanced and as honest as possible. His crisp, engaging narratives seek to recreate an authentic image of the past that tries to comprehend the aims of ail who lived it.

Confessions of a Revisionist Historian covers the issues and events Bigler considers central to understanding Utah's colorful history: Millennialism, the march of the Mormon Battalion, the California Gold Rush, the Mormon Kingdom of God, Brigham Young's Indian policy and the Fort Limhi mission to Oregon Territory, the 1856 Reformation and the origins of the Utah War of 1857, and the conflict's most controversial acts of violence, the Mountain Meadows Massacre and the Aiken party murders. His analysis incorporates sketches and close studies of overlooked but significant personalities such as Garland Hurt, Nephi Johnson, Benjamin Franklin Cummings, Lewis W. Shurtliff, Benjamin Franklin Ficklin, and John Hawley, plus celebrated and colorful "Danites" such as Bill Hickman and Porter Rockwell, and tributes to friends and colleagues Harold "Hal" Schindler and Jerald and Sandra Tanner.

In Dave Bigler's characteristic good-humored and gentle way, Confessions or a Revisionist Historian includes eighteen articles, essays, presentations, tributes, and a love story that showcase what fellow historian Polly Aird called Mr. Bigler's "legacy of path-breaking research, honesty, and historical integrity." This work stands as an enduring tribute to a gifted chronicler's ability to examine the facts, step outside the box of the venerated interpretation, and evaluate the evidence in an new way. This perceptive historian offers original insights into the significant human events that define today's American West.

Table of Contents

  • Illustrations
  • Polly Aird: An Appreciation of David L. Bigler
  • David L. Bigler: A Brief Biography
  • Editorial Notes
  • Abbreviations
  • How I Became a Revisionist Historian
  • "Sword of Jehovah": The March of the Mormon Battalion
  • Eyewitness to Discovery: Azariah Smith
  • Seeing the Elephant in Utah: The Gold Rush and the Mormon Kingdom
  • Garland Hurt, the American Friend of the Utahs
  • The Great Reformation: Prelude to the 1857-1858 Utah War
  • "A Lion in the Path": Genesis of the Utah War, 1857-1858
  • Terror on the Trail: The Massacre at Mountain Meadows
  • The Aiken Party Executions and the Utah War, 1857-1858
  • The Crisis at Fort Limhi, 1858
  • One of Nature's Ladies: The Life and Loves of Lewis Warren Shurtliff
  • Mormon Missionaries, the Utah War, and the 1858 Bannock Raid on Fort Limhi
  • James Hervey Simpson: Exploring the Great Basin
  • "A Most Bright, Earnest and Winsome Company": Christian Missionary Teachers in Utah Territory
  • The Coast-to-Coast Rock Road: The Lincoln Highway in Utah
  • More Than a Beacon: A Tribute to Jerald and Sandra Tanner
  • In Memory of Harold Schindler
  • A Few More Good Men
  • David L. Bigler A Selected Bibliography: Books, Articles, and Awards
  • Index

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