HUGH NIBLEY: A Consecrated Life

Boyd Petersen, Author . Greg Kofford $32.95 (446p) ISBN 978-1-58958-020-6

Hugh Nibley is generally touted as one of Mormonism's greatest minds and perhaps its most prolific scholarly apologist. Just as hefty as some of Nibley's largest tomes, this authorized biography is delightfully accessible and full of the scholar's delicious wordplay and wit, not to mention some astonishing war stories and insights into Nibley's phenomenal acquisition of languages. Introduced by a personable foreword from the author's wife (who is Nibley's daughter), the book is written with enthusiasm, respect and insight. It is organized into chapters alternating between chronological biography (childhood, mission to Germany, military service in WWII, etc.) and topical themes in Nibley's life (social criticism, faith, scholarship, Scripture and so on). A particularly powerful and timely chapter addresses Nibley's rather surprising views on war; he opposed the Vietnam War when it was very unpopular in LDS culture to do so. Although this format often results in repeated information, it also makes it easy to approach the book as a collection of stand-alone essays. Occasionally the author falls into the archival researcher's trap of including unnecessary information simply because he has access to it, but on the whole, Petersen is a careful scholar who provides helpful historical context. Although Petersen married into Nibley's family, and sometimes defends Nibley and his inconsistencies from his many critics, this project is far from hagiography. It fills an important gap in LDS history and will appeal to a wide Mormon audience. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 12/23/2002
Release date: 01/01/2002
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