Latter-day Saint Life

Susan Easton Black has written over 170 books, and many are about Joseph Smith. Here’s why

Susan Easton Black.jpg
Susan Easton Black stands next to a bookshelf in her home in Provo, Utah, on October 14, 2008. Black has authored more than 170 books, most of which are about the Prophet Joseph Smith and Church history.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Retired BYU professor Susan Easton Black knows a thing or two about Joseph Smith. From listening to her grandmother tell stories about the Prophet to teaching about his life for over three decades, Black has many reasons why she considers Joseph to be a phenomenal man.

Black has authored over 170 books throughout her accomplished career, most of which have been about the Prophet Joseph Smith and early Church history. Most recently, Black wrote Joseph and Brigham: An Eternal Bond, which looks at the friendship between Joseph and his successor, Brigham Young, and coauthored Anxiously Engaged: A Biography of President M. Russell Ballard.

In an interview with Deseret News, Black shared her testimony about why she believes in the Prophet when others criticize him.

“Any time we are quick to criticize it’s because we don’t know all the facts. I view it as sloppy scholarship on (the critic’s) part. In many cases, they delete faith and delete revelation to be able to come up with their conclusion. In the case of Joseph or Brigham, you can’t possibly do that and know the men you are talking about. Truth has to edify.”

One of the traits she loves about the Prophet is his forgiving nature.

“There are so many things I like about Joseph, but consistently, he is so forgiving. In a time period where enemies abounded, he’s forgiving of his followers, his friends, and his foes. I think it’s an amazing trait,” she says.

Read more about Black’s career and her thoughts about the Prophet Joseph Smith at Deseret News.

Joseph & Brigham: An Eternal Bond

Susan Easton Black, one of the great historians of our age, reveals for the first time the private friendship between Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Though these two men grew up in close proximity to each other, they didn’t meet until Brigham was in his thirties. Their first meeting, which involved speaking in tongues and led to Joseph prophesying that one day Brigham would “preside over this Church,” proved to be a harbinger of their future relationship.

These two giants of the Restoration, indeed of the American West, didn’t always see eye to eye, though their friendship never faltered. Joseph’s inexperience in certain matters led to doubts in the minds of many, indeed to apostasy, but Brigham, nearly five years older, saw beyond the inexperience to a man of prophetic vision called by God himself.

Over time a respectful relationship grew into a deep and abiding friendship, with both men willing to sacrifice their all for the kingdom—and for one another. What led to this deep commitment? What created this mutual trust and loyalty, even when others abandoned them? The answer lies in the foundation of their love, which was also the foundation of their undying faith. They knew. They knew God, and they knew each other.

This great friendship, which began in the eternities and certainly continues there now, is the story of two men’s faith, commitment, and love.

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