The King of Confidence: A Tale of Utopian Dreamers, Frontier Schemers, True Believers, False Prophets, and the Murder of an American Monarch

Miles Harvey. Little, Brown, , $29 ISBN 978-0-316-46359-1
Journalist Harvey (The Island of Lost Maps) delivers a vivid account of the life and times of American sect leader, lawyer, newspaper editor, and con man James Jesse Strang (1813–1856). After Mormon founder Joseph Smith’s murder in 1844, Strang, a recent convert to the religion who had mysteriously disappeared from his home in Upstate New York and reappeared in Wisconsin, declared himself Smith’s successor. As proof, he produced a forged letter of appointment and brass plates written in an alphabet he alone could decipher. Though the majority of Mormons followed Brigham Young to Utah, Strang convinced hundreds of fellow converts to join him on Beaver Island in Lake Michigan, where he crowned himself King of Heaven and Earth. Strang’s remote outpost soon captured the attention of the media and federal authorities for illegal activities including theft, piracy, counterfeiting, and polygamy. Ultimately, Strang’s increasingly authoritarian rule led to his assassination by disaffected members of his congregation. Harvey paints antebellum America as a time of “excesses and delusions” and skillfully explores the era’s technological advances, rising immigration, political violence, religious fervor, and leading literary figures. This evocative tale will astonish and delight fans of American history. (July)
Reviewed on : 02/03/2020
Release date: 05/12/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-5491-3225-4
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