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Riding in the Shadows of Saints

B+

In 2001, when she was 45, Jana Richman climbed on her BMW motorcycle and retraced the steps of her Mormon ancestors from Nauvoo, Ill. — which church members were forced to flee in 1846 — to northern Utah. The wild solo ride makes a great centerpiece for her openhearted and uncommonly balanced portrait of one of America’s most successful — and reviled, mocked, and misunderstood — homegrown religions in Riding in the Shadows of Saints. Richman can see eye to eye with Mormonism’s critics: She left the faith decades ago and detests its sexism. But she also argues that the church has brought peace to millions, including five generations of her own family, and she wants to understand why and how. These are excellent questions, ones that most popular books dealing with Mormonism — including Jon Krakauer’s 2003 best-seller Under the Banner of Heaven — never answer, let alone ask.

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