Summarized by Kent Larsen
Major Reviews of 'Latter Days' Generally Positive
Kent Larsen 12May00 A4
NEW YORK, NEW YORK -- Major reviews of Coke Newell's book describing LDS
Church history and beliefs, "Latter Days" have been generally positive, in
contrast to a review in the industry publication Publisher's Weekly. Reviews
in Booklist, Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews, also widely looked at in
the book industry as guides to purchasing, generally praised the book as an
insider's look at Mormonism explained in a way that is accessible to outsiders.
Booklist calls "Latter Days" a "short but lively summary of a puzzling
faith." The magazine says that many readers will come to libraries and
search in bookstores for exactly what Newell has provided. "As one of those
converts, Newell understands how to explain this distinctively American form
of Christianity to the curious outsider," the Booklist review reads.
Library Journal agrees, saying that the book is a "complement to last year's
more journalistic Mormon America." While noting that Newell, who manages
media research for the LDS Church, wrote a "polemical piece that takes the
truth claims of the religion at face value," it says that view should be
expected. But Library Journal does say that "controversial topics are often
briskly dismissed," and thinks Newell's viewpoint is a bit idiosyncratic,
"Clearly, there are more ways to be Mormon than his."
Kirkus Reviews is even more positive than the others, calling the book a
"Mormon primer that believers and nonbelievers alike will profit from."
Noting that Newell has delivered "not just Mormon history, but Mormon
cosmology, as well," Kirkus is particularly complementary of his attention
to the leadership of Brigham Young, which it credits for the survival of
Mormonism following the death of Joseph Smith, instead of fading away like
so many other religions. Kirkus' only criticism is a desire that Newell
include more information about contemporary Mormon life, and perhaps a less
"sanctimonious and smug tone."