There has been much press about volumes 1 and 2 of The Joseph Smith Papers Project. My wife even spoiled me with a copy of volume 2 this past Christmas. It contains the actual hand-written revelations of Joseph, along with a typed copy to help the reader understand some of the hard to read handwriting.
Well, Signature Books has just released something similar for Brigham Young. This article from the Salt Lake Tribune talks about the release of The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young , a five-volume work. For a mere $500, you can own every version of every speech known to exist. Richard Van Wagoner, author of Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait in Religious Excess (I did a 6 part review starting here) has compiled these speeches over the last 15 years. The Tribune article has some interesting quotes from Van Wagoner.
“Brigham’s facility with language and ability to address complex issues on the fly rank him among the most able preachers,” Van Wagoner says, “and, as Utah’s governor, most talented politicians of the day — just as capable, I think, as any U.S. president of his time.”
Ronald Walker, who is toiling away on a biography of Young, applauds Van Wagoner and Signature for the massive undertaking — although the retired Brigham Young University historian cannot afford his own copy of the set.
“Reading the discourses is one of the starting places one must make to capture the real Brigham,” Walker says. “But they must be read side by side with his letters that no one has really looked at. A softer, more pastoral, sweet man appears in the letters than in the pulpit.”
Any search for the hidden mystery of Young has to be multifaceted, Walker says. “To really do the job right, you have to look also at how people interacted with him. Then you begin to get a picture of the complex, contradictory guy Brigham was.”
There are only 325 copies for this printing run. While I’d love to get a copy, the price tag is too steep for my budget. There are 3200 pages in the 5-volume set. So, does anyone have any copies of Brigham’s letters to see “A softer, more pastoral, sweet man appears in the letters than in the pulpit”? Does anyone want to chip in and share a copy?