New Releases: “American Visions” – “Murder in a Mill Town” – “Following into Risky Obedience” – “Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction”


American Visions: The United States 1800-1860 – By Eward L. Ayres 

Publisher’s summary

A revealing history of the formative period when voices of dissent and innovation defied power and created visions of America still resonant today.


The early decades of the nineteenth century saw the expansion of slavery, Native dispossession, and wars with Canada and Mexico. Mass immigration and powerful religious movements sent tremors through American society. But even as the powerful defended the status quo, others defied it: voices from the margins moved the center; eccentric visions altered the accepted wisdom, and acts of empathy questioned self-interest. Edward L. Ayers’s rich history examines the visions that moved Frederick Douglass, Margaret Fuller, the Native American activist William Apess, and others to challenge entrenched practices and beliefs.


Through decades of award-winning scholarship on the Civil War, Edward L. Ayers has himself ventured beyond the interpretative status quo to recover the range of possibilities embedded in the past as it was lived. Here he turns that distinctive historical sensibility to a period when bold visionaries and critics built vigorous traditions of dissent and innovation into the foundation of the nation.


Those traditions remain alive for us today.


©2023 Edward L. Ayers (P)2023 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books



Murder in a Mill Town: Sex, Faith, and the Crime That Captivated a Nation – By Bruce Dorsey

Publisher’s summary

In December 1832 a farmer found the body of a pregnant young woman hanging near a haystack outside a New England mill town. When news spread that Methodist preacher Ephraim Avery was accused of murdering Sarah Maria Cornell, a factory worker, the case gave the public everything they found irresistible: sexually charged violence, adultery, the hypocrisy of a church leader, secrecy and mystery, and suspicions of insanity. Murder in a Mill Town tells the story of how a local crime quickly turned into a national scandal that became America’s first “trial of the century.”


After her death, Cornell’s choices about work, survival, and personal freedom became enmeshed in stories that Americans told themselves about their new world of industry and women’s labor and the power of religion in the early republic. Ordinary people gave testimony that revealed rapidly changing times. As the controversy of Cornell’s murder spread beyond the courtroom, the public eagerly devoured narratives of moral deviance, abortion, suicide, mobs, “fake news,” and conspiracy politics. Long after the jury’s verdict, the nation refused to let the scandal go.


A meticulously reconstructed historical whodunit, Murder in a Mill Town exposes the troublesome workings of criminal justice in the young democracy and the rise of a sensational popular culture.


©2023 Bruce Dorsey (P)2023 Tantor



Following into Risky Obedience: Prayers Along the Journey – By: Walter Brueggemann 

Publisher’s summary

This collection of prayers by noted Hebrew Bible scholar Walter Brueggemann can be used in both public worship and private devotion. These prayers run the gamut from particular days in the church year to special moments in the lives of worshiping communities to events playing out on the world stage.


In all cases, the prayers show us how God accompanies us through all the moments and stages of our life, while simultaneously calling us to do the same for all those whom God has placed alongside us in the journey.


©2023 Walter Brueggemann; Foreword copyright 2023 by Westminster John Knox Press (P)2023 Christian


Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction – By: Richard Lyman Bushman

Publisher’s summary

Beginning with a handful of members in 1830, the church that Joseph Smith founded has grown into a world-wide organization with over twelve million adherents, playing prominent roles in politics, sports, entertainment, and business. Yet they are an oddity.

Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction explains who Mormons are: what they believe and how they live their lives.


Written by Richard Lyman Bushman, an eminent historian and practicing Mormon, this compact, informative volume ranges from the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the contentious issues of contemporary Mormonism.


Bushman argues that Joseph Smith still serves as the Mormons’ Moses. They understand their lives as part of a spiritual journey that started in a “council in heaven” before the world began just as he taught.


How are Mormons to hold on to their children in a world of declining moral standards and rampant disbelief? How do rational, educated Mormons stand up to criticisms of their faith? How do single Mormons fare in a church that emphasizes family life? The book also examines polygamy, the various Mormon scriptures, and the renegade fundamentalists who tarnish the LDS image when in fact they’re not members.


This engaging introduction enables listeners to judge for themselves how Mormon teachings shape the character of believers.

©2008 Richard Lyman Bushman (P)2023 Tantor