The full title of the book describes it all – American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church is a compelling account of the years, months, days and hours leading up the murder of the founder and leader of the Mormon church, as well as the events that occurred immediately after.
Beam really did his homework while preparing to write this book. He spent time with countless scholars in the LDS church, historians in the church archives and from BYU. The book is rich with details about the inner workings of the church under the leadership of Joseph Smith. Beam shows how Smith’s “revelation” of plural marriage led to deep divisions in the church and was the primary fuel of anti-Mormon fervor in Illinois and beyond.
Those who know little to nothing about the LDS church need not fear; the book briefly explains the “revelations” of Joseph Smith and how he came to found the church and recruit members. For those who already have some knowledge of the church, the book is a valuable and enlightening addition.
I couldn’t find much information about Beam himself, but from what I gather he is not Mormon himself. With that in mind, it’s impressive how he was able to write a balanced piece about a church that has seen so much controversy. Any bias you may hear in this review is purely from my own opinions that I had before reading the book. So extra kudos to Beam for being objective! My only complaint is that the jacket feels like sandpaper and I recoiled the first time I touched it, so hopefully you don’t mind reading your book without the jacket!
TL;DR: A really great read for anyone interested in the history of the LDS church!