The story-book adventures of Roberts’s life made him a household name during his lifetime. His impassioned speeches incited riots, his reasoned writings defined and codified religious beliefs, and his candid disclosures of Utah history brought him both respect and censure. He is best remembered today as a largely self-educated intellectual. Several of his landmark published works are still in print more than fifty years after his death. His life story, told here in his own words and published for the first time, may well stand as his greatest, most enduring achievement.
For many today, B. H. Roberts is the quintessential Mormon intellectual of the twentieth century. But his theological writings came late in life and his historical views were more subjective than definitive. His autobiography, on the other hand, is a forthright account of the events and acquaintances that contributed to his unique faith and intellectual independence. Troubled by the memory of being abandoned as a child, and of the abusive care of quarrelling and intemperate foster-parents, he survived a stormy youth of poverty and neglect. He describes his nearly ten years as a missionary to the southern United States, his subsequent tenure as an outspoken member of the First Quorum of Seventy, his public opposition to women’s suffrage, and his controversial bid for the U.S. House of Representatives as a Mormon polygamist.