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Book review: 'Conspiracy at Carthage' shares context of US, Mormon history

"CONSPIRACY AT CARTHAGE: The Plot to Murder Joseph Smith," by Mark Goodmansen, Cedar Fort, $19.99, 343 pages (nf)

In “Conspiracy at Carthage: The Plot to Murder Joseph Smith,” author Mark Goodmansen shares information about events surrounding the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum on June 27, 1844, in Carthage, Illinois.

Goodmansen shares the context of historical events in America in general as well as in the early history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leading up to the deaths of the early church leaders at Carthage Jail. He explores how plans for the Prophet's death were largely politically and economically motivated, and how the mob at Carthage included more than 200 militia members, many of whom had connections to local government. He also ties in historical figures such as William Clark, Robert E. Lee and Francis Scott Key.

Goodmansen lays out the history of the surrounding states to explain the buildup and concerns people had against the Mormons that led to the conspiracy against Joseph Smith. His well-researched nonfiction book includes quotes from publications from those times.

The first couple of chapters are full of historical facts and are a bit slow, but the overall story and intertwining events in the book are compelling and interesting.

The topics in “Conspiracy at Carthage” surround murder conspiracies, but there is no detailed violence.

Goodmansen, a South Jordan resident, graduated cum laude from the University of Utah in accounting and has a passion for history, according to biographical information in the books.

Livi Whitaker is a freelance writer and has contributed to publications such as Deseret News,, FamilyShare,, FamilySearch and more in news, print and as a columnist since 2010.