This is a very poor book. I am all in favor of exposing the falsity of Mormon claims, but I cannot recommend this book.
The Mormon ConspiracyBy Charles L. Wood, LLC
Black Forest Press, San Diego / Chula Vista, 2001
Reviewed by Richard Packham
When the author Charles Wood was first starting to write this book, he sent me an early draft and asked me to read it. It did not have a title yet, as I recall. That draft I read was just a lengthy compilation of what almost all former Mormons have uncovered as we began to study the church in detail. I had no idea that he was going to publish it, because it did not appear to me to be worth publishing. Some time later he contacted me again and asked if he could refer to my own exit story on the Internet. I told him that I would not object.
After the book was published, he sent me a copy and asked for my comments. I was horrified at how bad it is. It is poorly written, poorly documented, poorly researched, poorly thought out, full of factual errors, and badly in need of a good editor (especially one who is familiar with the basic rules of English punctuation).
The most glaring problem is with the title, "The Mormon Conspiracy." A conspiracy is when several people get together and plan to do something illegal, or to achieve something legal by illegal means. The author does not even attempt to prove a conspiracy in the ordinary sense, and even admits that he does not mean "conspiracy" in the ordinary sense (on an unnumbered page before page i), but just that the church leaders "act together secretly." That is NOT a "conspiracy" even in the broadest interpretation - every organization or corporation has its private information (secrets). So the book does not deliver on the promise of its title. All it shows is that the church is trying to convert the world to Mormonism. That is NOT a "conspiracy."
Much of the book is lengthy citations from a few secondary sources, with which the author, in a "disclaimer" says he does not necessarily "accept or share" the same view. He also says that dialogues he reports are "not totally accurate or precise."
I was quite astonished when he attempts to prove that the Mormons are hoping to take over the United States by quoting ME, without naming me, but simply reporting something I said in my exit story. So his evidence is the opinion of an unidentified private person. Not very convincing.
When I sent him a long list of errors (fact, logic, punctuation, lack of citations, incorrect citations, etc., often half a dozen on a single page) he was quite indignant, and even defended some of the errors I had pointed out.
For example, he refers to Ethan Smith's book "A View of the Hebrews" as a "novel." When I pointed this out to him he replied that since the basic premise of that book was not true, it was not wrong to call it a novel. He says that the word "deseret" is a biblical word (it is from the Book of Mormon). He calls one of those involved in the Mountain Meadows Massacre (Haight) an "apostle." He says that when the Mormons left Kirtland they went to Far West (they went to Independence, then Far West - Independence is not mentioned). He says that Nauvoo was Illinois' "second-largest city" (it was the largest). He says that the Book of Mormon is an account of "the lost tribes [of Israel]" (it is not). He says that the Mormons are searching for "white Indians" to prove the Book of Mormon. They are not. He says that the Book of Mormon describes how the angel led Smith to the plates. It does not. He says the Jaredites came from Israel. The Book of Mormon says they left the Tower of Babel, long before Israel existed. These are only a few of the hundreds of factual errors.
His writing style is cumbersome and awkward. He consistently refers to himself in the third person as "the author," even when narrating a personal account with missionaries (p. 152). He seems to have no notion of the correct use of the comma. He disputed my assertion that there are thousands of punctuation errors, run-on sentences, and awkwardly worded phrases, making the reading difficult, by assuring me that his wife, who is an English teacher, corrected the manuscript.
Authors like Wood do inestimable damage to the efforts to expose Mormonism, simply because they do such an abysmally awful job that anyone who reads such stuff concludes that if that's the best the critics of Mormonism can do, Mormonism must be OK.
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© 2009 Richard Packham Permission granted to reproduce for non-commercial purposes, provided text is not changed and this copyright notice is included