New Books Network

Benjamin E. Park

Kingdom of Nauvoo

The Rise and Fall of a Religious Empire on the American Frontier

W. W. Norton & Company 2020

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Christian StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & Faith April 2, 2020 Chris Babits

In Kingdom of Nauvoo: The Rise and Fall of a Religious Empire on the American Frontier (W. W. Norton, 2020), Benjamin E. Park, an assistant...

In Kingdom of Nauvoo: The Rise and Fall of a Religious Empire on the American Frontier (W. W. Norton, 2020), Benjamin E. Park, an assistant professor at Sam Houston State University, examines a neglected part of the Mormon past — the establishment of a thriving Latter-day Saint metropolis in Illinois. In Nauvoo, Park argues, the Mormons, under the leadership of Joseph Smith, wanted to build their kingdom along the Mississippi. In covering the Saints’ time in Illinois, Park analyzes how the Mormon experience in Nauvoo not only transformed some of the religion’s core religious beliefs but he also explores Smith’s and the Saints’ engagement and disillusionment with American democracy. Doing so allows Park to situate Mormons at the center of antebellum religious and political developments.


Chris Babits is an Andrew W. Mellon Engaged Scholar Initiative Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. He researches the intersecting histories of medicine, religion, and gender and sexuality and is currently working on his book about the history of conversion therapy in the United States.