My interest in this book was triggered by an encounter with a brother-in-law who denied any blood-atonment incidents in the early Basin Kingdom. I knew otherwise from reading Mike Quinn and Mountain Meadows history. Forgotten Kingdom was a good dispassionate source confimring the rough-and-tumble times of early Utah. Full-fledged democratic institutions hadn't yet taken shape in the US generally, much less on the frontier, much less in a territory dominated by a theocratic kingdom not yet ready to accommodate outsiders. Violence was a part of life, just as it is now (only more institutionalized now).
I didn't sense any particular ideology or ax to grind. You don't get that voyeuristic feel of sensationalism that you might with a less sympathetic view. Biglet lets the story tell itself. He doesn't pull punches or whitewash, but neither does he judge from a 21st century view how these frontiersmen made do in their lives. The most important thing I look for when I read a history is a sympathetic storyteller - someone who doesn't judge participants from a narrow point of view. Bigler's history is sympathetic and compassionate.
I have ancestors who settled in southern Utah, and Bigler helps me understand better what they went through. The vision of an independent kingdom of God was doomed from the start, for the same reasons that it failed in Ohio, Missour, and Illinois, You can't help but admire the audacity and tenacity of these early settlers, though. Forgotten Kingdom does a useful services by shedding light on these times.
Balanced and clear account of Theocratic Kingdom , April 12, 2004
I agreed with the previous reviewers in saying that this is one of the best books regarding the theocratic state that the Mormons tried to create during their early territorial years. The book does a wonderful job contrasting the theocratic values of the Mormon's ideal world to the republican ideology of the United States at that time.
The key figure of this book proves to be the theocratic dictator of Utah Territory, Brigham Young, prophet and president of the LDS. Its pretty clear by the book that Young saved his church from destruction and with his single-minded clarity of mission, managed to saved Utah for the Mormons. But in doing so, he committed himself to unforgivable sins, worst being the cover-up of the Mountain Meadow Massacre. But it was also interesting how he created a shadow government to off set the loss of formal position. But to paraphase one of the quotes from the book, "I may be the governor of the territory but Young is the govenor of the people" (close?). His defense of polygamy aided the enemies of his church and his willingness to over looked the misdeeds of his underlings marked him as a great but deeply flawed man. The book covered this struggled between Young and all his foes who stood against his theocratic dictatorship.
The book appears to be very well researched, clearly written and easy to read. Its an interesting read of Utah's politics, wars and religious conflicts as the Mormons slowly but surely, began to assimulated into the American society.