by Richard Lyman Bushman, with the assistance of Jed Woodworth
Alfred A. Knopf, 2005. 740 pgs. Nonfiction
There has long been a need for a well-documented, thoroughly researched, balanced account of Joseph Smith. Bushman provides a dense yet readable narrative and integrates recent research and discoveries into his work (recent at the time of publication back in 2005). There’s a lot of detail here and some interesting possibilities raised such as the location where the Church was organized (traditionally Fayette, New York—Bushman suggests Mansfield). Also the date when the Melchizedek Priesthood was restored (traditionally May-June 1829; Bushman suggests a data as late as late as June or July of 1830).
By a wide margin this is the finest biography available on Joseph Smith and will likely remain so for quite some time. Perhaps following the completion of the Joseph Smith Papers Project a new biography will appear, utilizing yet further sources and synthesizing additional strands from the life of this singular man.