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Something like two-thirds of the books sold each year in the United States are sold in the weeks leading up to Christmas, which explains why publishers are more apt to release books (such as my own recent contribution, The Grand Strategy of Classical Sparta: The Persian Challenge) in the fall.
The reason that book sales are concentrated in this season is simple and straightforward: we are expected to give gifts and, tolerably often, we have no idea what to give. Knowing that there may be a host of Ricochet members in that situation, I propose over the next few days to suggest a number of recent books that might do the trick.
The first on my list is a book hot off the presses written by John J. Miller of Hillsdale College and National Review, and host of Ricochet’s own The Bookmonger podcast. It was published last week and is entitled The Polygamist King: A True Story of Murder, Lust, and Exotic Faith in America; it is available only on Kindle; and it is both short (46 pages) and inexpensive. I read it in ninety minutes, and can verify that Amazon is right to treat it as a “page-turner” and as “pulp non-fiction.”
The subject is James J. Strang, a con man who joined the Mormon Church in the time of Joseph Smith, who emerged as a rival of Brigham Young, and who founded a Strangite Mormon colony on Beaver Island in Lake Michigan. I do not want to spoil your reading experience, so I will only say that the subtitle accurately describes the story and that, despite the tale’s salacious features, there is a serious point to it.Published in