Books chronicling 19th-century Mormon history tend to fall into two camps: apologetic or polemic. John Gary Maxwell’s The Civil War Years in Utah: The Kingdom of God and the Territory That Did Not Fight (University of Oklahoma Press, $29.95) leans decidedly toward the latter. The author accepts as objective fact anything he selects from U.S. Army sources, while discounting or dismissing many credible Mormon voices. The conclusions and speculation that result often stretch the fabric of documented history; even rend it with error. While contemporary quotations carry the bulk of the story, the narrative thread sometimes tangles in digression and tangential detail. There is no shortage of accounts attempting to whitewash Utah’s lack of interest or participation in the Civil War, but this distinctly one-sided volume does little to balance the books.
—Rod Miller, author of The Lost Frontier: Momentous Moments in the Old West You May Have Missed