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No Ma’am, That’s Not History

No Ma’am, That’s Not History: A Brief Review of Mrs. Brodie’s Reluctant Vindication of a Prophet She Seeks to Expose (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1946): 62 pp.; CWHN 11:1. Subsequently reissued without changes at various times. This is a short, witty reply to Fawn M. Brodie’s No Man Knows My History (New York: Knopf, 1945; 2nd ed., rev. and enlarged, 1971). His response to Brodie took the form of counter-punching which signaled to the Saints that there was still room for non-naturalistic accounts of Joseph Smith’s revelations. Cultural Mormons who celebrated a new enlightenment with the appearance of Brodie’s treatment of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon were deeply offended by what they considered Nibley’s flippant response. Hostility to Nibley has also been a rather common feature of the secular, revisionist element in the so-called New Mormon History, which has seen in Brodie’s account of Joseph Smith the beginning or basic outlines of an acceptable naturalistic account of Mormon things. Commenting on the reception of Brodie’s biography of Joseph Smith, Thomas G. Alexander claims that “perhaps no book in recent years has evinced more comment.” He then contrasted “the scholarly Marvin Hill’s” two reviews of Brodie’s biography of Joseph Smith [Church History 43:1 (March 1974):78-96; Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 7:4 (Winter 1972): 72-85] with “the outrageous Hugh Nibley’s No Ma’am That’s Not History ….” [Alexander, “The Place of Joseph Smith in the Development of American Religion: A Historiographical Inquiry,” Journal of Mormon History 5 (1978):3-17, at 10, n. 9.] — Midgley

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