In her engaging account of the intersections of Mormon history, memory, and place across the American West, Sara Patterson often returns to a striking narrative—one that is well known within LDS Church circles. It describes the occasion in 1847 when Brigham Young is said to have looked out at the Salt Lake Valley and declared, “This is the place.” From one perspective, Young's words—both description and prescription—could hardly have been more unequivocal. They came at the end of a difficult journey and signaled the burgeoning fulfilment of Young's vision of a Mormon Zion. Nowadays, the spot where he is assumed to have gazed over a landscape of so much promise is commemorated by the “This is the Place Park” (TITP) in Salt Lake City.

Yet even as she provides a vivid account of this story and its aftermath, Patterson explores the numerous ambiguities and questions that surround the original event....

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