Reviews – In the World: The Diaries of Reed Smoot

The Diaries of Reed SmootChurch History, Susan Curtis
The diary entries made by Reed Smoot between 1909 and 1932 reveal a public servant, a Mormon leader, and a hectored family man, and reflect important developments in early-twentieth-century American life. As a tough-minded senator and successful businessman from Utah, Smoot epitomized the protectionist impulse in the early years of this century and the business acumen upon which an expanding corporate America depended. Between these political and financial worlds, Smoot the family man and Mormon apostle sought a private life in keeping with the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Smoot emerges from the pages of this diary as a man of contradictions—a no-nonsense politician and an indulgent father, a fiscally responsible public figure and one who repeatedly rescued his fiscally irresponsible adult children.

Excellent editorial work and insightful introductory essay by Harvard S. Heath have resulted in a volume that will prove especially useful to historians of American religion. Interwoven in Smoot’s daily notes about his active political and business life one finds Smoot’s involvement in Mormon activities, ceremonies, and official meetings. Although clearly “in the world,” as Heath aptly titled this volume, Smoot never abandoned his devotion to Mormonism by excising it from his regular routine. Scholars seeking a fuller understanding of the practice of religion in the modern era will benefit from these diary entries, which demonstrate the intersection of family obligation, religious conviction, public service, and politics.