Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Reflections: Ezra Taft Benson: A Biography

Adam C. Zern shares his thoughts on Ezra Taft Benson's biography by Sheri L. Dew:

"Ezra Taft Benson is my most admired statesmen.  I have read dozens of his speeches, one of his books (An Enemy Hath Done This), as well as reading books he endorsed, such as The American Tradition by Clarence B. Carson.  In fact, I have gone so far as to read a biography of a personality, Robert A. Taft, because Ezra Taft Benson listed him as one of his most admired statesmen.  After reading his official biography by Sheri Dew, I am as impressed and endeared to him as I have ever been.  I just wish he could have gotten a more talented author to have written about his life.

Sheri Dew does an adequate job, but that's the most that could be said.  Her writing is dull, sometimes boring, and focuses on providing a travelogue rather than truly revealing a personality.  Sheri Dew does mention in the preface to her book that she purposely avoided controversy that at times swirled around Ezra Taft Benson, but it sometimes left the book feeling overly sanitized.  The reason Ezra Taft Benson is such a fascinating and admirable personality is because regardless of the controversy created by his convictions he held impressively firm.  His feelings on freedom, the U.S. Constitution, as well as mothers working outside of the home, and his subsequent outspoken quality make him the statesmen and spiritual leader I admire.  I could only hope I would be as devoted to truth as he was, and I wish the author would have elaborated in greater detail on what the consequences can sometimes be when one stands for truth and won't budge.

Latter-day Saints will no doubt be the most interested to read this book.  Ezra Taft Benson eventually became the 13th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  What makes him unique, however, was his extensive work in the public arena, which included being the Secretary of Agriculture for all eight years of Dwight Eisenhower's administration.  His devotion to his own convictions can be appreciated by any, even if you find yourself disagreeing with him.  I hope that he would be remembered in a positive light, even by his critics, because of the integrity that he exhibited.

In the final analysis, an interesting life makes for an interesting book, even if the writing isn't all that interesting."

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