Sounding Brass

(Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1963): 249 pp.; CWHN 11:407-727. This book carries the subtitle “Informal Studies in the Lucrative Art of Telling Stories About Brigham Young and the Mormons” and is a response to Irving Wallace’s The Twenty-seventh Wife (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1961). A few historians have been annoyed because Nibley pointed out some of the flaws in anti-Mormon literature. “Hugh Nibley’s Sounding Brass …. is a meticulous critique of two anti-Mormon writings. Nibley’s book is most useful for the poorly informed who do not have the background to critique sensationalistic or popular works of questionable validity, like those of Ann Eliza Young or Irving Wallace. But it is a pointed and often sarcastic essay that emphasizes in great detail flaws already evident to the knowledgeable reader. The generally uninformed but orthodox Latter-day Saint will find this type of work supportive of his beliefs, but the Mormon who is familiar with critical methodology and with history will prefer a synthesis of the events critiqued. Many scholars find this style of writing to be a sort of intellectual overkill, and it has not been particularly influential among historians.” Thomas G. Alexander, “Toward the New Mormon History: An Examination of the Literature on the Latter-day Saints in the Far West,” an essay in Historians and the American West, edited by Michael P. Malone (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983). — Midgley

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