Summarized by Kent Larsen
Mormonism prominent but irrelevant in new book (Only in America)
New York Review of Books 7Oct99 A1
By Russell Baker
In a review of Marguerite Young's new final (and unfinished) book
"Harp Song for a Radical: The Life and Times of Eugene Victor Debs,"
well-known columnist Russell Baker focuses on Young's treatment of
Mormonism, which she finds an example of the utopianism of the 1840s.
Baker adds a claim that Mormonism was the era's "only utopian
Baker summarizes Young's view of Mormonism, quoting several extended
passages from the book, but wonders why Young focuses so much on
Mormonism. "The trouble with Marguerite Young's long, entertaining
romp through Mormon history is that it has nothing to do with what
appears to be her book's theme; that is, that the gentle utopianism
of the 1840s spawned the violent confrontation between labor and
capital after the Civil War. She simply can't resist stopping
everything to tell a good story, regardless of its pertinence."
Unfortunately, Baker notes in the review, the meandering book also
lacks the polishing, revising and re-writing necessary for a finished
book. Young, who worked slowly on her books, died in 1995 while still
working on this book. While it purports to be a biography of Eugene
Debs, it misses the major portion of his life and covers Mormonism
only as a precursor, background information on the times that Debs