The Colony: Faith and Blood in a Promised Land

On November 4, 2019, three women and six children of dual American and Mexican citizenship were gunned down on a desolate dirt road in northern Mexico. In The Colony: Faith and Blood in a Promised Land, investigative journalist Sally Denton contextualizes the murders--a "tale of secrecy, polygamy, blood feuds, conquest, and exploitation, wrapped in a radical interpretation of Mormon doctrine"--in light of the long and troubling history of the Mormon LeBaron clan.

Diving headlong into the beginnings of the Mormon church, Denton (The Plots Against the President) pays close attention to the fundamentalist polygamist sects that splintered off from mainstream Mormonism. The radical practitioners, refusing to give up "the Principle" (plural marriage), were chased out of the mainstream Mormon church in Utah when it banned polygamy in 1890. These "apostates" moved to northern Mexico, cultivating and irrigating the barren soil, eventually creating a thriving community named Colonia LeBaron. Denton keeps a steady hand on the often confusing rifts and spinoffs of the polygamist sects after the 1955 creation of the Church of the Firstborn of the Fulness of Times, which included the notorious Ervil LeBaron, "the Mormon Manson."

Through a wealth of interviews with members and ex-members of Colonia LeBaron and its sister community, La Mora, Denton respectfully portrays the experiences of its women, seeking to understand why they "remain within a novel American religion based on male supremacy and female servitude." The Colony is a riveting work of reportage, exploring the violent interplay of religion, colonization and power. --Peggy Kurkowski, book reviewer and copywriter in Denver

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