• Watchman on the Tower

  • Ezra Taft Benson and the Making of the Mormon Right
  • By: Matthew L. Harris
  • Narrated by: Christopher Reid
  • Length: 4 hrs and 56 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (47 ratings)

1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $14.95

Buy for $14.95

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

Ezra Taft Benson is perhaps the most controversial apostle-president in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For nearly 50 years, he delivered impassioned sermons in Utah and elsewhere, mixing religion with ultraconservative right-wing political views and conspiracy theories. His teachings inspired Mormon extremists to stockpile weapons, predict the end of the world, and commit acts of violence against their government. 

The First Presidency rebuked him, his fellow apostles wanted him disciplined, and grassroots Mormons called for his removal from the Quorum of the Twelve. Yet Benson was beloved by millions of Latter-day Saints, who praised him for his stances against communism, socialism, and the welfare state, and admired his service as secretary of agriculture under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Using previously restricted documents from archives across the United States, Matthew L. Harris breaks new ground as the first to evaluate why Benson embraced a radical form of conservatism, and how under his leadership Mormons became the most reliable supporters of the Republican Party of any religious group in America.

©2020 University of Utah Press (P)2020 University of Utah Press

More from the same

What listeners say about Watchman on the Tower

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    35
  • 4 Stars
    10
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    29
  • 4 Stars
    9
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    31
  • 4 Stars
    8
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Essential for any Mormon who wants to understand the rise of conservatism in the Church

This book was well researched and fairly portrayed. It was really helpful for me and understand how the church drifted into ultra conservativism.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent review of a timely topic

I enjoyed this book. It is an excellent, fair, seemingly unbiased review of Ezra Taft Benson's political teachings, how they developed, and how they have persisted.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

interesting way of telling tge information

It's hard to tell where the author is coming from or going with the information. Some may consider this good, because it would seem to be nonbiased; I'm not sure about that though. In any case, it's interesting.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Impartial and Well researched

I am a practicing member of the Church of Jesus Christ and a registered Republican.

I appreciate the painstaking effort of the author to research and provide a straightforward retelling of the experiences and acquaintances that influenced Pres. Benson’s political views.

I believe that he was a prophet of God, but also a man shaped by the world in which he was raised and his own biases.

To that end, I feel this book provides a refreshing look at the differing political opinions within the church membership and, more importantly, among its highest leaders. Just because he was called to lead the church in spiritual matters, doesn’t mean he was inspired in everything he said (even while standing at the pulpit).

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Not what I was expecting…

I grew up LDS, but sadly, did not know a
whole lot about Ezra Taft Benson. Over
the past couple years is when I have
been learning more about him and about
his warnings about Communism &
Socialism. I have been intrigued to learn
more about him, since those of us who
are NOT BLIND to see what is going on
around us, see in our surroundings,
exactly what Benson had been warning
us would happen. The more I learn of
him, the more I know that he was a
prophet of God, called at a time when he
could say the things we needed to hear
in our day, because our tyrannical
government would NEVER let any church
leader get away with this today.

Matthew L Harris seems to me to be a
practicing liberal, a Socialist/Communist
& everything he writes about Benson in
this book has an undertone of severe
dislike. In fact, the more that Matthew L
Harris tries to make you NOT like
Benson, the more I actually did. I
enjoyed the book, not only learning
about what Harris does not like about
Benson, but to see again, another Secret
Combination in our day, trying to
discredit someone of great faith &
understanding, & trying to make the
weak minded believe that he was an
extremist and it is ok to NOT follow the
teachings of a prophet of God. I very
much learned to love Benson even more
reading this book, and very much
learned that I greatly dislike Harris and
will never be reading another one of his
books.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • J
  • 12-18-21

Puts a partisan apostle into context while humanizing him

Even though I respect him as a prophet myself and even know his grandchildren personally, I have long had a problem with some of the more partisan quotes of Ezra Taft Benson. Friends and family still share some of his quotes, thinking they should represent church doctrine. It was nice to hear the author show how even his contemporaries and peers had a problem with how partisan he was, and how it actually hurt the ability of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to grow and prosper in parts of the world. While parts about spouting conspiracy theories from the John Birch Society surprised me, just how rabidly anti-communist he was did not. I also found it interesting that he changed or softened his rhetoric when he became prophet himself.
Overall, a good book that I’m glad I read.