Immediately following the huge 12/2 is this rather slim issue of the Review. Without counting the Editors Introduction, this whole issue is shorter than one review (Hamblin’s) in the previous issue. If we count the Editors Introduction, then it is only a few pages longer than Hamblin’s review.
This issue features only 9 reviews/articles (including the Ed. Intro., which is still the only non-review essay), reviewing only 5 publications. Only four of these reviews/articles are longer than 20 pages, while the other five are all under 10 pages in length.
Louis Midgely dominates this issue. The two longest pieces (combining to cover more than 85 pages) are from Midgely, both dealing with the ongoing debates about the “Brodie legend.”
This issue may signal the shift that took place in the Review over the years from its focus on the Book of Mormon, to being dedicated to “Mormon studies” in a broad sense. Only one review is centered on the Book of Mormon, though this may be explained by the lack of content presented in this issue generally.
Kevin L. Barney, “A Seemingly Strange Story Illuminated,” a review of John A. Tvedtnes, The Book of Mormon and Other Hidden Books: “Out of Darkness unto Light,”(Provo, UT: FARMS, 2000), pg. 1-20: Barney’s review of Tvedtnes book is both enjoyable and insightful. Barney explains why a book of this nature was necessary, and provides a useful mini-response to Thomas J. Finley’s critique of Hugh Nibley.
Louis Midgley, “The Legend and Legacy of Fawn Brodie,” a review of Newell G. Bringhurst, Fawn McKay Brodie: A Biographer’s Life (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999), pg. 21-72: Midgley is essentially the “Brodie expert” of the FARMS Review. He gives what I felt was a generally positive review of Bringhurst’s biography of Brodie, though he certainly points out where he feels Bringhurst’s discussion is lacking, and adds some important insights for those interested in the “Brodie legend.”
Louis Midgley, “Comments on Critical Exchanges,” a review of Glen J. Hettinger, “A Hard Day for Professor Midgley: An Essay for Fawn McKay Brodie,” Dialouge 32/1 (1999): 91-101, pg. 91-126: Midgley responds to Hettinger and others, as well as spells out and clarifies his position on a number issues. An import read for those who seek to follow not only the debates regarding Brodie, but debates over how to do Mormon history in general (a debate which Midgley has been a major player).
L. Ara Norwood, “He Ain’t Heavy,” a review of James R. White, Is the Mormon My Brother? (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1997), pg. 133-164: A good review of a slightly improved evangelical anti-Mormon approach (“slightly improved” in contrast with more traditional, sensationalistic and derogatory anti-Mormonism such as that of Walter Martin). Some good sources and arguments in response to the “polytheistic” charge frequently made against Mormonism, along with some brief treatment of other criticisms.
Overall, this issue was somewhat lack luster. While both of Midgley’s essays are important, I would not consider any of the content of this issue to be “must-read.” That is not to say that none of this issue is worth reading. For those who are avid about Mormon studies, some good information and insights can be gleaned from the reviews in this issue (including, as always, even the reviews/articles not recommended here). But compared with other issues of the Review (both older and newer), I found this issue to be sub-par.