My rating: 5 of 5 stars
As a writer myself, I admire the art of Miles Harvey as he tells the story of James Strang, Mormon prophet and self-proclaimed King of Heaven and Earth. A history professor, Harvey weaves Strang’s strange tale into the history of the time, such as Strang’s coronation on Michigan’s Beaver Island following soon after the well reported coronation of Queen Victoria. Or Strang publishing a history of the island the same year P.T. Barnum published his biography and later how Barnum’s bankruptcy seems to mirror Strang’s downfall. Every life is a part of the times in which they lived and that is so clear in this well-documented telling which includes many newspaper reports of the day, even from the paper in the town where I live in Michigan. But just as a person’s life reflects the times that they lived I couldn’t help hearing echoes of current false prophets and true believers in the words of Strang. When he exaggerates the size of his congregation it sounds so much like the reports of the “largest ever” 2016 presidential inauguration. Strang’s complaints about his mistreatment and the lies of his betrayers sounds awfully familiar too.