'The Great War'

Edited by Robert Cowley

Random House, $29.95.

With the Civil War well seemingly running dry after 140 years of research, military historians and readers have turned to World War I, examining many of the same reasons that make the Civil War such appealing reading.

In many ways, the two wars have many of the same characteristics that appeal to the military reader — savage sacrifices as men are overwhelmed by advanced weaponry and poor command decisions, incredible bravery that can be barely described and a romantic patina of passing decades.

"The Great War: Perspectives on the First World War" is a collection of essays from a number of fine scholars evaluating the war, from the introduction of submarines, to trench warfare and the first air war to particularly heroic turning points. Sergeant York is here, as is the Red Baron, Gallipoli, Ypres and Jutland.

This is a book of overviews that allows the reader to see the big picture of World War I in concise, well-written pieces that refuse to bog down like four years of trench life.

Anyone interested in reading about the roots of modern warfare should be pleased by the smoothly paced work of John Keegan, Thomas Fleming, Stanley Weintraub and, finally, Robert Cowley, who is the book's editor. One comment: the number of good maps in the book almost makes up for the absence of photographs. — Craig Holyoak


'David W. Patten'

By Linda Shelley Whiting

Cedar Fort, $14.95.

Whiting has written an interesting and prodigiously researched biography of David W. Patten, one of the lesser-known apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He was born in Vermont in 1799, grew up to be a large, powerful man, standing 6-foot-1- and weighing more than 200 pounds. He joined the LDS Church in 1832 and was killed in 1838 at the Battle of Crooked River.

During his six years as a Mormon, he served eight missions and baptized hundreds of people. He became known as one who had a gift to be able to heal the sick.

He was a charismatic man with a strong sense of humor. The author records that during one church service, Patten became disturbed by a heckler, "so he picked the fellow up, carried him to the back door and threw him ten feet into a wood pile."

Joseph Smith spoke at Patten's funeral and said: "There lies a man that has done just as he said he would. He has laid down his life for his friends." — Dennis Lythgoe


'The Book of Mormon: A Reader's Edition'

Edited by Grant Hardy

University of Illinois Press, $39.95.

Hardy, an LDS history professor at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, has authored a "Reader's Edition" of The Book of Mormon. He notes that although The Book of Mormon is considered a sacred scripture by more than 11 million people, and more than 100 million copies have been printed since 1830, it is difficult to study in its familiar form.

"It offers a lengthy, complex narrative that takes place over the course of a thousand years and requires readers to keep track of scores of unfamiliar names."

Consequently, Hardy has reformatted the text into paragraphs, poetic stanzas, quotation marks and content headings. He has also included footnotes, charts, appendixes and suggestions for further reading to help new readers familiarize themselves both with the narrative and the background of Latter-day Saints. Although Hardy has added punctuation and changed the design to make it more readable, he has not changed any words.

This "Readers Edition" seems especially helpful to the scholar who would like to understand The Book of Mormon in depth — and to the non-Mormon reader who would enjoy the book in an easier-to-read format. — Dennis Lythgoe