Nauvoo, The City Beautiful
Kim C. Averett, John Telford, Susan Easton Black
Eagle Gate , 2002. Hardback:
Suggested retail price: $19.95 (US)
Books for review are often accompanied by a press release from thepublisher. Deseret Book included the following note with this book:
For every person who will be able to travel to Nauvoo this spring there will be a hundred who want to, but will not be able to make the trip.
John Telford, Susan Easton Black, and Kim C. Averett have created a book for the armchair traveler to Nauvoo. First published in 1997, "Nauvoo" contains beautiful, full-color photographs by Telford and text by Black and Averett; re-released in 2002, the book has been updated to feature photographs of the new Nauvoo Temple from construction to completion.
Okay. So one would expect this book to be larger than itspredecessor. Wrong. The previous volume, titled simply "Nauvoo," isphysically larger (nearly coffee-table size), goes to 96 pages(including an index and notes, missing from the current volume), andsold for a whopping $34.95.
So how is this volume an "update"? Most obviously, photos of theNauvoo Temple are now included, photos not available, for obviousreasons, in the 1997 edition. So how do you accomplish the smallersize? Sadly, the current volume lacks an extensive running commentaryon the historical events that surround the photographs, so nicelyprovided in the earlier book. This text provided background that Ithink is essential to understanding the flow of Mormon history inNauvoo. A simple caption helps, but is not as useful.
Why not retain the text of the older edition, and simply add theupdated Nauvoo Temple material? I suspect they needed to find a wayto shrink the book down a bit so that they could sell it at a morereasonable price.
(I tried to determine whether photos were omitted, but the lack of anindex in the new volume made this an awful task I decided to abandon.)
Pages 57-64 of the earlier edition are dedicated to "The NauvooTemple," a brief but informative history of the Temple and its impacton the city. I regret that the publishers omitted this strongnarrative from the new edition. Given the stated reason for the newvolume -- the inclusion of the rebuilt Temple -- it would have madethis a better book.
My naturally cynical nature also suspects that the publisher hasdecided that background text isn't nearly as important as beautifulpictures, that people may be willing to give up text in favor of morepictures and reduced price. This is not a particularly Mormon trait;society as a whole seems to be favoring visual delight over serioustext. It's too bad.
Together, the two books make for a pleasant journey through Nauvoo.Having never visited the city, I appreciated the opportunity to seehow the early Church built a major city in a most unlikely place.
Despite its lack of background text, "Nauvoo, The City Beautiful" doesoffer brief captions with the photos, helping the reader to identifythe time and place. Those interested in further information, however,will have to look elsewhere.
Nauvoo, The City Beautiful does not constitute a majorcontribution to Nauvoo studies. But it does provide a fairly low-costalternative to previous display volumes, and may be of interest toChurch members who want to view the city, then and now, and perhapsdevelop a deeper interest in historical study. Those who can obtainboth volumes should do so, as the current volume, despite the pressrelease, really isn't a re-release at all, but a reduced, and lessdetailed, version.
----------------------- Jeff Needle firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2002 Jeff Needle < email@example.com >