UHBF Virtual Author Event - Betsy Gaines Quammen and Craig L. Foster/Marianne Watson

  • Posted on: 3 August 2020
  • By: TanyaMills

A presentation by Utah Humanities, Torrey House Press, Grand County Library and The Book Bungalow featuring the authors of the books American Zion and American Polygamy in an interview with Kirsten Johanna Allen, publisher and editorial director for Torrey House Press.




Betsy Gaines Quammen will discuss her book, American Zion: Cliven Bundy, God, and Public Lands in the West, published by Torrey House Press at the end of May this year.

What happens when members of an American religion—one built in the nineteenth century on personal prophecy and land proprietorship—assert possession over western federal lands, armed with guns and a certainty that God wants them to go to war? American Zion is the story of the ongoing feud between Mormon ranching family the Bundys, the federal government, and the American public. Historian Betsy Gaines Quammen examines the roots of the Bundys’ cowboy confrontations, and how history has shaped an often-dangerous mindset which today feeds the militia movement and threatens public lands, wild species, and American heritage.

BETSY GAINES QUAMMEN is a historian and conservationist. She received a doctorate in Environmental History from Montana State University in 2017, her dissertation focusing on Mormon settlement and public land conflicts. She has studied various religious traditions over the years, with particular attention to how cultures view landscape and wildlife. The rural American west, pastoral communities of northern Mongolia, and the grasslands of East Africa have been her main areas of interest. She lives in Bozeman, Montana, with her husband, writer David Quammen, two huge dogs, an overweight cat, and a pretty big python named Boots. Visit her at www.betsygainesquammen.com.



Craig L. Foster and Marianne T. Watson will discuss their book, American Polygamy: A History of Fundamentalist Mormon Faith.

Today's Fundamentalist Mormons in the American West resist assimilation like their forefathers. Centered on faith, they survive despite efforts to permanently end their cherished plural family arrangements. While some Fundamentalists like Warren Jeffs go rogue and corrupt their beliefs in heinous crimes, most hold steadfastly to a religion they say is biblical and restored by the first Latter-day Saint prophet, Joseph Smith, in the early 1800s. Mormon historians Craig Foster and Marianne Watson present more than two hundred photos and exclusive insights to explain how an estimated thirty thousand Fundamentalist Mormons still venerate a much-debated legacy--despite its difficult challenges--and persist in living plural marriage.

CRAIG L. FOSTER earned a MA and MLIS at Brigham Young University. He is also an accredited genealogist and works as a research consultant at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. He has published articles about different aspects of Latter-day Saint history. He is the author of two books, co-author of another and co-editor of a three-volume series discussing the history and theology of plural marriage. Foster is also on the editorial board of the John Whitmer Historical Association Journal.

A graduate of the University of Utah history department and raised as a member of the Apostolic United Brethren, MARIANNE T. WATSON has been widely published and has presented at conferences, including the Mormon History Association, the Western History Association and the first Mormon history conference in Brazil in 2010.


KIRSTEN JOHANNA ALLEN manages editing, production, marketing, and fundraising for Torrey House Press. She also oversees acquisitions along with associate editor Anne Terashima and creative director Kathleen Metcalf. Though Kirsten is a native New Yorker, she's also a sixth-generation Utahn and feels most at home hiking in Utah’s red rock country. She has two grown children and lives with a pair of cats and her spouse, Mark Bailey, in Salt Lake City and Torrey, Utah.

Event address: 
Online via Zoom
St. George, UT 84770-4087
American Zion: Cliven Bundy, God & Public Lands in the West Cover Image
ISBN: 9781948814140
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Torrey House Press - March 24th, 2020

American Polygamy: A History of Fundamentalist Mormon Faith Cover Image
ISBN: 9781467137522
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: History Press - June 3rd, 2019