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Ezra Taft Benson: A Biography

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”I believe that you will find in this biography the story of a truly great man. Not a perfect man, nor a man who hasn’t faced and even struggled with mortality’s challenges. But a man of conviction and courage. A man who has remained true to the principles in which he deeply believes. A man who has responded to assignments within the gospel kingdom that have demanded total ”I believe that you will find in this biography the story of a truly great man. Not a perfect man, nor a man who hasn’t faced and even struggled with mortality’s challenges. But a man of conviction and courage. A man who has remained true to the principles in which he deeply believes. A man who has responded to assignments within the gospel kingdom that have demanded total commitment and faith in the Lord. This is a man who has faced hardships, has worked to overcome personal shortcomings, has had triumphs, and through it all, has turned his life completely over to the Lord.” —Sheri Dew This is the story of Ezra Taft Benson, thirteenth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is the saga of a farm boy who loved the land and the Lord – a plough boy who became a prophet. It tells of his romance and marriage to a “city girl,” Flora Amussen, a young woman who had more faith in him than he had in himself. He is a family man, the father of six and the eldest of eleven brothers and sisters. This is the story of the most formally educated president of the Church. He received a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University, a master’s degree from Iowa Sate University, and did post-graduate work at the University of California. He subsequently wrote several books, received many honorary degrees, and delivered thousands of addresses. It is the story of a man who, after working with rural people in various capacities, became the first Latter-day Saint to serve in the cabinet of the president of the United States – eight years as Secretary of Agriculture in the administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower. His fight to help the farmers of America be free and prosperous marked him as a man of conviction who stood by his principles despite enormous political pressures. Ezra Taft Benson is a man of God. Twice he served as a stake president and twice as president of the European Mission. At the close of World War II he served a mission of mercy, ministering to the spiritual and temporal needs of destitute Latter-day Saints in Europe. When he came to the office of president of the Church in November 1985, he had known more heads of state and was perhaps the most widely traveled of any prophet in this dispensation. He had served forty-two years as an apostle, including twelve years as president of the Quorum of the Twelve. The Lord tutored him well for his call as a prophet. There was divine design in his life that prepared him for the new and heavy tasks that lay ahead.


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”I believe that you will find in this biography the story of a truly great man. Not a perfect man, nor a man who hasn’t faced and even struggled with mortality’s challenges. But a man of conviction and courage. A man who has remained true to the principles in which he deeply believes. A man who has responded to assignments within the gospel kingdom that have demanded total ”I believe that you will find in this biography the story of a truly great man. Not a perfect man, nor a man who hasn’t faced and even struggled with mortality’s challenges. But a man of conviction and courage. A man who has remained true to the principles in which he deeply believes. A man who has responded to assignments within the gospel kingdom that have demanded total commitment and faith in the Lord. This is a man who has faced hardships, has worked to overcome personal shortcomings, has had triumphs, and through it all, has turned his life completely over to the Lord.” —Sheri Dew This is the story of Ezra Taft Benson, thirteenth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is the saga of a farm boy who loved the land and the Lord – a plough boy who became a prophet. It tells of his romance and marriage to a “city girl,” Flora Amussen, a young woman who had more faith in him than he had in himself. He is a family man, the father of six and the eldest of eleven brothers and sisters. This is the story of the most formally educated president of the Church. He received a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University, a master’s degree from Iowa Sate University, and did post-graduate work at the University of California. He subsequently wrote several books, received many honorary degrees, and delivered thousands of addresses. It is the story of a man who, after working with rural people in various capacities, became the first Latter-day Saint to serve in the cabinet of the president of the United States – eight years as Secretary of Agriculture in the administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower. His fight to help the farmers of America be free and prosperous marked him as a man of conviction who stood by his principles despite enormous political pressures. Ezra Taft Benson is a man of God. Twice he served as a stake president and twice as president of the European Mission. At the close of World War II he served a mission of mercy, ministering to the spiritual and temporal needs of destitute Latter-day Saints in Europe. When he came to the office of president of the Church in November 1985, he had known more heads of state and was perhaps the most widely traveled of any prophet in this dispensation. He had served forty-two years as an apostle, including twelve years as president of the Quorum of the Twelve. The Lord tutored him well for his call as a prophet. There was divine design in his life that prepared him for the new and heavy tasks that lay ahead.

30 review for Ezra Taft Benson: A Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kimber

    I always enjoy reading biographies of the prophets. Ezra Taft Benson was no different. He was a remarkable man. Reading about his life experiences, I know that he was put on the earth at exactly the right time that the world needed him. It was also apparent that his early life experiences prepared him for his later life experiences. Much of his life was spent in politics, so much of the book discussed the political world he was involved in. Things really don't change much in politics. The Democr I always enjoy reading biographies of the prophets. Ezra Taft Benson was no different. He was a remarkable man. Reading about his life experiences, I know that he was put on the earth at exactly the right time that the world needed him. It was also apparent that his early life experiences prepared him for his later life experiences. Much of his life was spent in politics, so much of the book discussed the political world he was involved in. Things really don't change much in politics. The Democrats and Republicans didn't agree on anything then and they don't agree on anything now. It was admirable the Ezra didn't back down from what he believed to be right, even in the face of criticism. I was also impressed the he encouraged prayers to be offered at political meetings and often offered the prayer himself. Because of his service in the government, doors were opened in many countries to the church later in his life. I like learning little known personal things about the prophets, like he was known as "T" for most of his life. It always strengthens my testimony to read of the lives of the prophets.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    My husband and I read this book together during the first few months of our marriage. We often found ourselves laughing and crying at the stories and hardships they faced. I felt particularly connected to the women described and was strengthen in my new role as a wife and upcoming role of a mother. I almost felt a part of the Benson family. It is a wonderful description of a modern family pulling together through difficulties. I never realized the full extent of President Benson's participation My husband and I read this book together during the first few months of our marriage. We often found ourselves laughing and crying at the stories and hardships they faced. I felt particularly connected to the women described and was strengthen in my new role as a wife and upcoming role of a mother. I almost felt a part of the Benson family. It is a wonderful description of a modern family pulling together through difficulties. I never realized the full extent of President Benson's participation in polics and patriotism.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Brent

    My neighbor across the street---a good Catholic---had been introduced to Ezra Taft Benson and said he was more impressed with him than anyone else he had met. A Mormon friend loaned him this book. My neighbor read it and loved it so much, he loaned it to me, knowing I am a Mormon. The book gave me a greater appreciation of President Benson, as a man and as a past Prophet and President of our Church. This biography shows that he may have been the world's most successful salesman of the Book of Mo My neighbor across the street---a good Catholic---had been introduced to Ezra Taft Benson and said he was more impressed with him than anyone else he had met. A Mormon friend loaned him this book. My neighbor read it and loved it so much, he loaned it to me, knowing I am a Mormon. The book gave me a greater appreciation of President Benson, as a man and as a past Prophet and President of our Church. This biography shows that he may have been the world's most successful salesman of the Book of Mormon. Sheri Dew also provides a glimpse of post-World War II Europe, where he was led by the Church to succor its members there through seemingly impossible means. And, in describing his beginnings as an Idaho farm boy, and his work for American farmers, including later his eight years of service as President Eisenhower's Secretary of Agriculture, her book adds to an understanding of national farm policies and politics. Given all that he accomplished, the support of his wife Flora and his humility stand out to me. Shortly after my neighbor loaned it to me, he suffered some additional medical problems that have led to his current hospitalization. So I hope to visit him tomorrow in the hospital and return this book with a good review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ken Lawrence

    Really? A biography of Ezra Taft Benson with hardly a mention of the John Birch Society? President Benson was an interesting figure, straddling the worlds of Salt Lake and Washington D.C. He was educated and talented and spiritual, but Dew's book does a disservice by ignoring significant aspect of Benson's political life, personal views, and interactions with colleagues. For the rest of the story, read David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism. For a more pointed summary, read the chapter Really? A biography of Ezra Taft Benson with hardly a mention of the John Birch Society? President Benson was an interesting figure, straddling the worlds of Salt Lake and Washington D.C. He was educated and talented and spiritual, but Dew's book does a disservice by ignoring significant aspect of Benson's political life, personal views, and interactions with colleagues. For the rest of the story, read David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism. For a more pointed summary, read the chapter about Ezra Taft Benson in D. Michael. Quinn's The Mormon Heirarchy: Extensions of Power.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mommywest

    I'm reading this book for the umpteenth time--I am always inspired by President Benson's life. I also am amazed by his wife and all she was able to do in spite of the fact that her husband was gone all the time because of work/church callings/etc. I learn so much from the way they handled their family and all their responsibilities with faith, determination, and strength. My testimony of the true gospel of Jesus Christ is strengthened every time, without fail!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    My Mom gave this book to me way back in High School, when President Benson was the prophet. I never read it, but had it sitting on my shelf. Finally, I made a goal to read it, and was amazed!!! I couldn't put it down, it was so intriguing to learn about the life of a prophet. I loved reading this book and want to read all of the biographies of the prophets.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Anderson

    Pretty weak. Glossed over. The poorest of the LDS Church president's biographies that I have read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    This is a wonderful book about an incredible man of God! I loved learning about President Benson; his humble farmer's upbringing; his devotion to family; his sure faith in the Lord; his willingness to serve God, country, and fellowmen; his love for freedom and the Book of Mormon; his great integrity and determination to do what’s right; and his example of the power of prayer and trust in the Lord. It’s amazing to see how the Lord directed his life from a small town and loving family in Idaho to This is a wonderful book about an incredible man of God! I loved learning about President Benson; his humble farmer's upbringing; his devotion to family; his sure faith in the Lord; his willingness to serve God, country, and fellowmen; his love for freedom and the Book of Mormon; his great integrity and determination to do what’s right; and his example of the power of prayer and trust in the Lord. It’s amazing to see how the Lord directed his life from a small town and loving family in Idaho to missionary work across Europe (particularly inspiring was his service just after World War II), important government offices and relationships with world leaders, to the Quorum of the Twelve and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book: “‘I work as hard as I can and do everything within my power. And I try to keep the commandments. Then I let the Lord make up the difference.’ There in a nutshell, lies the formula to President Benson’s life and to his success (p. viii).” “Tilling the soil was, however, a matter of survival, for the Bensons relied upon their garden of carrots, turnips, and all manner of vegetables and fruits to feed the growing family….Farming is no occupation for a tenderfoot. Only a rare breed of man will work his knuckles to the bone while putting his livelihood at the mercy of the elements, and do it year after year (p. 19).” “Ezra’s responsibilities weren’t confined to farming….Sometimes he wondered if his parents didn’t expect a little much of him. ‘But they had full confidence in my ability to meet almost any situation…They helped me have confidence (p. 20).’” “‘Those days on the farm when Father was away were a real test for the family. But there came into our home a spirit of missionary work that never left it (p. 32).’” “‘Town in uproar about Mormons, but thank the Lord I’m one (p. 49)!’” “‘Fear not man. Go with head up, we have nothing to be ashamed of. The world steps aside for the man that knows where he’s going (President David O. McKay, one of President Benson’s mission presidents in England, p. 60).’” “Flora never admitted as much, but she seemed to have some premonition of the scope of Ezra’s future, and she feared that if they married immediately, he would return to the farm and forfeit other opportunities (p. 79).” “‘There are few things in the world which give a man such courage as the faith of a noble companion. Flora had more faith in me than I had in myself (p. 80).’” “‘This man I am marrying is a diamond in the rough, and I am going to do all within my power to help him be known and felt for good, not only in this little community but for the entire world to know him (p. 89).’” “Most of the roads between Salt Lake City and Ames, Iowa, were rough and often unpaved, which made driving the unpredictable old truck an adventure. Too poor to pay for overnight lodging, they spent eight nights en route in a leaky tent. But to the newlyweds, the finest hotel might have offered splendor but no more joy, for they were finally together. Flora knew that her husband ‘didn’t have the wealth of the world, but he had the more valuable wealth of character, industry, health, honesty, and a love of righteousness.’ With plenty of time to reach Ames, they drove as far each day as suited them....Ezra’s passion for the land is evident in his comments as he discovered in Iowa the simple checkerboard beatify of cultivated acres that stretched, in some cases, as far as the eye could see (p. 91).” “‘I always wanted to marry a farmer,’ Flora said, ‘because I knew they had to work hard for what they got (p. 96).’” “‘My wife seemed to care little for material wealth,’ Ezra said. ‘Her one ambition was to support me in my efforts to serve my church, my fellowman, and to rear an honorable family (p. 98).’” “Ezra came to appreciate more fully the Prophet Joseph Smith’s counsel to the Latter-day Saints that men should be taught correct principles and then allowed to govern themselves. ‘I had a firm philosophy...You cannot help people permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves. I had to help the people stand on their own feet (p. 107).’” “‘While Father [George Benson] has not left very much, fortunately I feel, in the way of material things, he has certainly left us more than money can buy, and the splendid life of service and integrity which he has lived is the greatest legacy which parents may leave to their children (p. 114).’” “From the beginning [Flora] counseled her husband, ‘You may invite anyone to our home that you wish, but when we serve meals the children will be allowed to join us at the table, not tucked away in the kitchen to get leftovers.’ Ezra agreed, and the children learned how to respond with guests present. Many visitors complimented Ezra and Flora on their well-behaved children (p. 116).” “‘Life cannot be fully successful, no matter what goals we attain in the material world, no matter what honors of men come to us in our lives, if we fail as fathers, mothers, and children (p. 126).’” “[Flora] believed that home ought to be the place where children learned, developed, and had fun. Home was to be a sanctuary from the world….This was an eternal family unit, they emphasized over and over, and they wanted—and expected—no vacant chairs in the eternities. Even when the children were too young to appreciate the implications, the ‘no vacant chair’ theme became a part of their family culture (p. 129).” “The outlook on life that she and Ezra shared was positive. Their affection was open. Never did he leave for or return from work without kissing his wife and hugging his children. They both believed that it was hard for disharmony to brew if they never let a child leave home without a hug (p. 132).” “No detail was too small to take before the Lord. Flora’s daughter Barbara remembered, ‘If someone else was leading in prayer and Mother didn’t want something to be forgotten, she spoke right up and reminded the person to bless so and so. She believed the Lord was interested in every little thing that was taking place in our lives (p. 139).’” “As problems arose he addressed them….In time Ezra’s high profile in government circles brought awareness of, and later recognition to, the Church in Washington and elsewhere (p. 163).” “‘Your opportunity to mingle with large groups of non-Mormons and people who are influential should be availed of wherever possible. You mission from now on is to find ways and means to disseminate the truth and warn the people that you come in contact with in as kind a way as possible that repentance will be the only panacea for the ills of this world (President George Albert Smith, p. 184).’” “It now fell upon the Council of the Twelve to select, sustain, and ordain a new president of the Church. On Monday, May 21, three days after the funeral, Elder Benson went fasting with the other apostles to their council room in the Salt Lake Temple. David O. McKay and J. Reuben Clark, who had served in the First Presidency under President Grant, resumed their positions of seniority, third and ninth respectively, making fourteen apostles in all. Ezra sat in the thirteenth chair. During the meeting, George Albert Smith was ordained president, and he selected Elders Clark and McKay as first and second counselors, respectively. George F. Richards was sustained president of the Twelve. Elder Benson was impressed with the orderly transition, which was conducted in an atmosphere of harmony. He had seen nothing like it in the secular world, where expediency and politics motivated too many individuals (p. 194).” “On Monday, January 28, 1946, President Smith set Ezra apart as president of the European Mission, blessing him with safety, energy, and the ability to break down prejudice. He promised: ‘There is not anything desirable that you will not be able to do with the aid and help of the Lord...if you do your full part.’....Flora witnessed the blessing, and President J. Reuben Clark, recognizing her sacrifice, praised her when he said, ‘There is none better than you.’ That night Ezra wrote, ‘How true he spoke, for truly in all my acquaintances I have never met a more completely devoted woman with greater faith in the purposes of the Almighty (p. 198).’” “Some would say of Elder Benson that, with God’s help, he accomplished the difficult immediately. The impossible took a little longer (p. 200).” “Elder Benson was overcome with emotion at the thought of a people ravaged by war presenting him with a gift, and in his journal he wrote, ‘I shall always have sweet memories of this day with the Saints in Copenhagen. Never have I witnessed greater devotion to the Work and deeper love for the leaders of the Church (p. 204).’” “‘Mr. Benson, I have never heard of a Church with such vision (General McNarney, p. 210).’” “The element of danger, though ever-present, seemed to concern Elder Benson only occasionally (p. 212).” “There was a struggle with bureaucratic red tape in nearly every country. Some governments allowed the missionaries to reenter; others would not....In large part, his mission was a constant challenge of diplomacy (p. 216).” “‘The Saints….taught me a deeper appreciation for this intangible thing we refer to as a testimony—this thing that provides an anchor for men and women during times of great stress, trial, and hardship....I saw people peacefully happy in their hearts, which standing amidst the ruins all around them. I heard people bear testimonies to the goodness of the Lord unto them, although they were the sole remaining member of a once prosperous and happy family....I came to know…that men and women who have a testimony of this work can endure anything which they may be called upon to endure and still keep sweet in spirit (p. 227).” “‘The outlook for the world is not encouraging, but we know what the answer is. There is only one answer, and that is the gospel of Jesus Christ (p. 228).’” “Elder Benson’s desire to protect the Constitution, and to defend, at all cost, individual freedom, fueled his patriotic interests. He monitored national developments almost daily and was a keen observer of political climates (p. 237).” “‘I have no political ambitions except as such activities might redound to the good of the work of the Lord and this great nation preserved to permit the Restored Church to become establish and fill its great mission (p. 237).’” “Elder Benson’s love for American burned deep in his soul. Rarely did he visit the nation’s capital but what the spirit and feeling in that city didn’t move him (p. 251).” “‘It will be interesting to see the new secretary manage the U.S. Department of Agriculture by principle rather than political expediency (Paul Friggens, p. 257).’” “Throughout his term, Ezra would staunchly defend the free enterprise system. ‘We are a prosperous people because of a free enterprise founded spiritual, not material, values,’ he said. ‘It is founded on freedom of choice—an eternal, God-given principle. The founding fathers, inspired though they were, did not invent the priceless blessing of individual freedom. That gift to mankind sprang from the God of Heaven and not from government (p. 259).’” “I believe in the scriptural injunction to ‘pray oft,’ he asked his staff when they gathered for their first session if anyone objected to opening their meetings with prayer. No one dissented. And so began a practice that Ezra perpetuated for eight years. He invited each staff member to take turns offering the invocation (p. 268).” “‘Having Flora…nearby gave me new confidence....I became more decisive, surer of myself, more willing to tackle the tough challenges (p. 282).’” “Perhaps another reason Ezra Benson continued to attract media attention was because, after a year of intense fire, he had remained surprisingly calm. Observers didn’t know what to make of his serenity....With Ezra, peace came in doing what he felt was right—and letting the consequences follow. As Flora reminded him frequently, ‘Don’t worry about the world’s opinions of you as long as you’re right with the Lord (p. 292).’” “In an article entitled ‘The Benson Formula for Success,’ the New York Times Magazine explained the Secretary’s inner calm: ‘One reason is his religion....He acts like a man whose conscience is always clear—his testimony today will be the same next week or the week after or a year from now. He doesn’t have to remember what he said to an opposition Senator at their last meeting. This is a built-in ulcer-saving device not always found in Washington (p. 296).’” “‘I feel it is always good strategy to stand up for the right, even when it is unpopular. Perhaps I should say, especially when it is unpopular (p. 303).’” “Ezra found it natural to talk with the president of the United States about such things as prayer. Those who associated daily with Ezra saw how frequently he turned to prayer. As he left one morning to fill a potentially explosive appointment in Minnesota, an associate handed him a letter that read in part, ‘As you enter into a very difficult weekend, we want you to know that a lot of us are hoping and praying for you. Remember always that many of your friends feel that a great source of your personal strength is that you walk beside God, whereas most of the rest of us only report to Him (p. 309).’” “Secretary Benson’s religious beliefs were widely known, and on some occasions his high profile position gave him opportunities to preach the gospel to secular audiences....‘No other single influence has had so great an impact on this earth as the life of Jesus Christ,’ he taught. ‘We cannot conceive of our lives without Him….True, we live in a critical age. Almost every day brings a new crisis....Notwithstanding this, we face a more serious, far-reaching danger—the danger of forgetting the source of our blessings.’ To Secretary Benson, the source of these blessings was Jesus Christ (p. 338).” “‘To have been on the wrong side of the freedom issue during the war in heaven meant eternal damnation. How then can Latter-day Saints expect to be on the wrong side in this life and escape the eternal consequences (p. 360)?’” “‘When the people shall have torn to shreds the Constitution of the United States the Elders of Israel will be found holding it up to the nations of the earth and proclaiming liberty and equal rights to all men....This is part of the programme, and as long as we do what is right and fear God, he will help us and stand by us under all circumstances (President John Taylor, p. 364).’” “‘To deprive an intelligent human being of his free agency is to commit the crime of the ages….So fundamental in man’s eternal progress is his inherent right to choose, that the Lord would defend it even at the price of war (President David O. McKay, p. 365).’” “‘In the war in heaven the devil advocated absolute eternal security at the sacrifice of our freedom. Although there is nothing more desirable to a Latter-day Saint than eternal security in God’s presence…yet the very God of heaven, who has more mercy than us all, still decreed no guaranteed security except by a man’s own freedom of choice (p. 366).’” “‘We are invited out to so many nonmembers’ socials, dinners, etc. I wonder why the Lord selected Dad [and] me to do this social converting—because I know a lot of women would enjoy this type of things better than I do. But I throw myself into it with all I’ve got, and the Lord has blessed me (Flora Benson, p. 376).’” “‘I do not believe the greatest threat to our future is from bombs or guided missiles. I do not think our civilization will die that way. I think it will die when we no longer care—when the spiritual forces that make us wish to be right and noble die in the hearts of men….If America is destroyed, it may be by Americans who salute the flag, sing the National Anthem, march in patriotic parades, cheer Fourth of July speakers—normally good Americans, but Americans who fail to comprehend what is required to keep our country strong and free....Great nations are never conquered from outside unless they are rotten inside. Our greatest national problem today is erosion, not the erosion of the soil but erosion of the national morality (p. 398).’” “Perhaps no one had deeper respect and love for President Kimball than did Ezra Taft Benson. ‘Few saw President Benson on his knees, begging the Lord to preserve Spencer W. Kimball, as we did,’ said Elder Packer. ‘No one showed more deference and honor to President Kimball than did President Benson (p. 431).’” “In Egypt, President Benson was told it would take three weeks to secure the appointments he needed with key government officials. That night he knelt in his hotel room to ask the Lord for direction. He had consummate faith that the way would be opened. Those traveling with him were astonished when he was able to cut through mounds of red tape in a matter of hours and take care of business….Staff members who regularly accompanied President Benson came to realize that there was an abiding spiritual power about him. When he determined that something needed to be accomplished, he had complete confidence that the Lord would prepare the way (p. 433).” “President Benson was conscientious about his personal missionary efforts. He constantly sent Church-related materials, particularly copies of the Book of Mormon with his testimony enclosed, and detailed letters containing his testimony to national and international dignitaries (p. 443).” “‘I commend you and your associates for your courageous and wise action in voting down proposed legislation which strikes at the very foundation of the home and family. I know that some of you will be under fire….The Founding Fathers were also under fire (p. 453).’” “‘The recurring theme in America’s history is that God governs in the affairs of this nation (p. 455).’” “‘No one sustained President Hinckley more vocally than did President Benson. When matters came to the Twelve from the First Presidency, he would say, ‘Brethren, we must be about this now (Elder Boyd K. Packer, p. 465).’” “‘I bless you with increased understanding of the Book of Mormon. I promise you that….if you will daily sup from its pages and abide by its precepts, God will pour out....a blessing hither to unknown (p. 480).’” “‘We encourage Latter-day Saints throughout the nation to familiarize themselves with the Constitution. They should focus attention on it by reading and studying it. They should ponder the blessings that come through it. They should recommit themselves to its principles and be prepared to defend it and the freedom it provides (First Presidency in 1987, p. 511).’” “‘Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He can deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life in the service of God will find eternal peace (p. 512).’” “Ezra Taft Benson’s motivations have been, throughout his life, directed by purpose, by a higher power. At the basis of his loyalties and beliefs is devotion to the most worthy of causes—the gospel of Jesus Christ, and all that it contains. Such is the life of a remarkable man—a prophet, patriarch, and patriot (p. 513).”

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    I loved this book. President Benson was a great man; there have been few men like him. He is a great example in many ways. To start with the ending, I was deeply moved by the account of his ministry as President of the Church. His continued strong emphasis on the Book of Mormon has impacted the Church as a whole and me in particular in very positive ways. As I read the end I felt very strongly that this man was a prophet of God. He was called and prepared for his ministry. His life, his work and I loved this book. President Benson was a great man; there have been few men like him. He is a great example in many ways. To start with the ending, I was deeply moved by the account of his ministry as President of the Church. His continued strong emphasis on the Book of Mormon has impacted the Church as a whole and me in particular in very positive ways. As I read the end I felt very strongly that this man was a prophet of God. He was called and prepared for his ministry. His life, his work and his messages were inspired. He had such powerful love for so many people and did so much to serve them. He was an exemplary father and husband as well. I loved especially the account of his work in Europe immediately after WWII, not only what he accomplished administratively but the spiritual experience that it was ministering to the downtrodden saints in the ruined capitols of Europe. He had so many gifts, as an administrator, as a speaker, and as a leader. I loved especially hearing of his public life before and during his service as a member of the 12. Here is an example to emulate in public life. His principles were set in stone and he was unafraid to present them to anyone. In addition to that he was never mean spirited. Though he had many political enemies he always dealt with them politely and respectfully. He also did not change according to the political climate. Even when his strong views came under attack and became unpopular at times he did not moderate them or fold. And as Secretary of Agriculture he produced results. His program was always vindicated at the polls come election day. Even when Republicans on the whole didn’t do well they always did well in agricultural states during President Benson’s tenure. He ALSO started programs to provide food for needy people overseas. Charity and thrift seem to be rarely combined but they clearly were in President Benson. Also, I loved that he opened all of his meetings with prayer and influenced President Eisenhower to do the same for Cabinet meetings. Finally, great story: there was an employee at the Department of Agriculture who started going to church again based on President Benson’s example. His name? Kenneth Scott. Members of the church may have heard of his son Richard G. Maybe my favorite story is when President Benson went to the Soviet Union for duties as the Secretary of Agriculture. On the way to the airport he stopped at the state approved (well more like state barely tolerated) protestant church. Everyone stepped aside and invited him to speak. He testified powerfully that God lives and that the people should still keep having faith and praying. Everyone in the room, including all of the press corps, were in tears and some of them wrote of it as one of the most spiritual experiences of their lives. In some ways too President Benson’s story could not be more American. He was raised on a farm in relative poverty but by hard work, character and ingenuity he prospered. He got an advanced education and used it to benefit farmers all over the United States. He was of course also very patriotic. He loved America and its heritage with all of his heart. He believed strongly in the constitution and in the principles of limited government it contains. He always stood for freedom and self-reliance in everything that he did and said. He was not afraid to say things that were controversial. I loved this book and I love President Ezra Taft Benson.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sidney

    What a man. What a life. What a prophet. So inspirational.

  11. 5 out of 5

    thethousanderclub

    Adam C. Zern shares his thoughts . . . "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 Adam C. Zern shares his thoughts . . . "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." http://thethousanderclub.blogspot.com/

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sandi

    Ezra Taft Benson was a remarkable man! He rose from a farm boy to become the Secretary of Agriculture under President Eisenhower. He was the only one of Eisenhower's Cabinet that lasted all eight years. He was an Apostle of Jesus Christ and was given the task of taking tons of food, clothing, and bedding to the LDS people in war torn Europe after World War II. He was able to get into places where no one else was able to go because of his prayers and faith in Jesus Christ and knowing that he was Ezra Taft Benson was a remarkable man! He rose from a farm boy to become the Secretary of Agriculture under President Eisenhower. He was the only one of Eisenhower's Cabinet that lasted all eight years. He was an Apostle of Jesus Christ and was given the task of taking tons of food, clothing, and bedding to the LDS people in war torn Europe after World War II. He was able to get into places where no one else was able to go because of his prayers and faith in Jesus Christ and knowing that he was on the Lord's mission to help His Children. He was gone for nearly eleven months until he completed his mission. He gave more to those people than just the necessities that they needed, he gave them hope and love; he let them know that God loved them and He was mindful of them and there needs. One particular story was when he was in a town in war ravaged Germany and he met a family who were just devastated; Nazi soldiers that were returning from the front came into their home and forced the men to watch as they raped their women: mother/daughters/sisters and then ransacked their home of all the food they had managed to save. Elder Benson drew this family together and told them that none of what happened was their fault; he reminded them of God's love for them and that He would see that justice was given. He gave the family members blessings then gave them the material items that they needed. This book also tells about the great love he had for his sweet wife, Flora. Once he was home from Europe he never wanted to go anywhere without her. I remember seeing them at a regional conference that was held in San Bernardino, CA. I was watching from the choir when they were entering the arena, and someone tried to get between them to assist them up the stairs. President Benson told the man that he could take the other side but not between them. He held her hand the whole time except when he spoke to us. They were married about 65 years when she died. Some people may not have liked his politics but he was a great man none the less and this book is just a small sample of the great man that he was and how he helped others in the Church, in the world, and in the country he loved, the USA.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    President Benson was a giant among men. I am struck at how hard he works at everything he undertakes...small or big. He genuinely cared about helping other children of God and for the welfare of others. It is incredible how he could balance a family of 5 children, apostleship, politics, etc. -Served 8 years in the cabinet of Eisenhower as Sec of Agr -As apostle, toured post WWII Europe and directed supplies to the needy -Spent time in Asia building up new missions there -First stake pres in DC, not President Benson was a giant among men. I am struck at how hard he works at everything he undertakes...small or big. He genuinely cared about helping other children of God and for the welfare of others. It is incredible how he could balance a family of 5 children, apostleship, politics, etc. -Served 8 years in the cabinet of Eisenhower as Sec of Agr -As apostle, toured post WWII Europe and directed supplies to the needy -Spent time in Asia building up new missions there -First stake pres in DC, not too long after, DC temple constructed -Gave 100s of talks every year on Freedom and liberty and America as the promised land -Was considering running as Vice Pres of US on the ticket of Gov Wallace, heeded Pres McKay's counsel not to run -10 year effort to get Benson as a US pres candidate -Spent a whole bunch of time over seas helping the saints in Europe; Flora and Ezra were called to preside over a German mission and took their youngest daughter with them -Hugely successful children, each being married in the temple -Traveled and worked with a younger Gordon B. Hinckley in Asia; set apart Indonesia for missionary work; labored with various stakes in Japan. -Broke his hip and eventually needed a hip replacement after a mishap with a horse in the late 70's/early 80's. Health began to become unpredictable. -One of the greatest defenders of the Constitution of the United States. -Need to read his talk entitled "The Constitution: A Heavenly Banner" -- quoted Pres Young: "We are fast approaching that moment prophesiied by Joseph Smith when he said: 'Even this nation will be on the very verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground, and when the Constitution is upon the brink of ruin, this people will be the staff upon which the nation shall lean, and they shall bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction." -4 steps of preparation to meet the Constitution challenge: 1. Saints must be righteous 2. Saints must understand the principles of the Constitution and abide by them 3. Saints should participate in civic affairs 4. Saints must exercise influence by voting "It is my convictions that when the Lord comes, the Stars and Stripes will be floating on the breeze over this people"

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    My first memories of a living prophet where those of President Benson. During my life, I have had experiences of standing by his grave, reading his past talks and devotionals, and trying to live up to his admonition to read the Book of Mormon. Reading this book has helped me to better understand how President Benson was shaped into being the prophet of God. His life is both exemplar and amazing. His devotion to true principles in the face of adversity and against the stream of popular philosophi My first memories of a living prophet where those of President Benson. During my life, I have had experiences of standing by his grave, reading his past talks and devotionals, and trying to live up to his admonition to read the Book of Mormon. Reading this book has helped me to better understand how President Benson was shaped into being the prophet of God. His life is both exemplar and amazing. His devotion to true principles in the face of adversity and against the stream of popular philosophies is something we should all seek to have in our lives. He was definitely a proponent of truth, and constantly sought to bring all men and women closer to God. I feel blessed to live in a time that is seeing many of his prophesies and counsels coming to pass, and most importantly, that many of the promises he made are also real and continuing to benefit the Church. What a great example of love and devotion. May we all honor the legacy of this great man by better following his counsel and teachings.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    This book took forever to read, but it was worth it! I can't believe how much I learned. I haven't read many biographies and didn't expect to love this as much as I did. I don't remember President Benson at all and it was interesting to see how different he is than the prophets I am now used too. I learned about President Benson in this book of course, but also a lot about America's freedom, history, and workings, as well as about church history and development. I learned about good families and This book took forever to read, but it was worth it! I can't believe how much I learned. I haven't read many biographies and didn't expect to love this as much as I did. I don't remember President Benson at all and it was interesting to see how different he is than the prophets I am now used too. I learned about President Benson in this book of course, but also a lot about America's freedom, history, and workings, as well as about church history and development. I learned about good families and good things to do, and about past church recommendations and how they relate to today. There was a lot to gain from this book for me, and I'm so grateful I was able to read it. Thank you lending it to me Sonja! I highly recommend this book to everyone else!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Martha Bergner

    I have no personal memory of this president of the church, but was curious about the details of his life, especially as he visited and supported the saints in Europe after World War II and served eight years as the Secretary of Agriculture under President Eisenhower. It is an interesting read, including many personal details about his family and personal life. It is clear, however, that the author so esteems him that the book is worshipful. Yes, he worked hard and "wasn't perfect". But you would I have no personal memory of this president of the church, but was curious about the details of his life, especially as he visited and supported the saints in Europe after World War II and served eight years as the Secretary of Agriculture under President Eisenhower. It is an interesting read, including many personal details about his family and personal life. It is clear, however, that the author so esteems him that the book is worshipful. Yes, he worked hard and "wasn't perfect". But you wouldn't know it by this account. Everything looks so ideal and rosy. Secondly, when relating the political resistance he encountered, we only hear how right he was and how wrong and un-American were those he opposed. That being said, I am glad I read it and did learn a lot.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    This is the best biography that I have ever read! There were several reasons as to why I so enjoyed this book more than any other bio. I learned a lot about myself--comparing myself to him and his wife in so many ways. I loved reading about his family, his SUPPORTIVE wife (I have a renewed goal and view on being a good help meet for my hubby after reading about Flora's life), and his never-wavering testimony that he shared as often as he could. He passed B of Ms around constantly, from U.S. Pres This is the best biography that I have ever read! There were several reasons as to why I so enjoyed this book more than any other bio. I learned a lot about myself--comparing myself to him and his wife in so many ways. I loved reading about his family, his SUPPORTIVE wife (I have a renewed goal and view on being a good help meet for my hubby after reading about Flora's life), and his never-wavering testimony that he shared as often as he could. He passed B of Ms around constantly, from U.S. Presidents to rulers in other countries that he came in contact with. I was disappointed when I finished it, I could have read a lot more! An excellent read, everyone should indulge.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Shelly

    I read this book as a young college student. President Benson was the Prophet that I knew growing up, and I felt an even stronger connection to him since my dad had been on a mission with President Benson's nephew back in the Eastern States Mission. One time when Elder Benson(he wasn't Prophet yet) was back there for an assisgnment he took his nephew and my dad out to lunch. I absolutely loved this book. I laughed and cried. Then I read Camilla's Biography and felt the same way. What wonderful pe I read this book as a young college student. President Benson was the Prophet that I knew growing up, and I felt an even stronger connection to him since my dad had been on a mission with President Benson's nephew back in the Eastern States Mission. One time when Elder Benson(he wasn't Prophet yet) was back there for an assisgnment he took his nephew and my dad out to lunch. I absolutely loved this book. I laughed and cried. Then I read Camilla's Biography and felt the same way. What wonderful people and examples of the affect of the gospel in our lives.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jodi

    This is hands down the best biography I have ever read! I can't believe how enjoyable and fun this book was to read as well as incredibly inspirational. I only knew President Benson as an aged prophet when I was a teen. His life was so rich, so varied, and he lived it so fully--I loved learning so much about him and Flora. The subject is an amazing one but Sheri Dew is also an amazingly gifted author. I wish she would write biographies of all the prophets. Also, I want to be Flora Benson when I This is hands down the best biography I have ever read! I can't believe how enjoyable and fun this book was to read as well as incredibly inspirational. I only knew President Benson as an aged prophet when I was a teen. His life was so rich, so varied, and he lived it so fully--I loved learning so much about him and Flora. The subject is an amazing one but Sheri Dew is also an amazingly gifted author. I wish she would write biographies of all the prophets. Also, I want to be Flora Benson when I grow up.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mel Allred

    I don't normally read biographies, however, since I am LDS, I have taken it upon myself to read many of those that are about the prophets of our religion. This one is particularly well written and the subject matter is surprisingly good material for LDS readers and others who may wish to see the personal drive, and inspiration, necessary to achieve that which was achieved by this great man. If you're looking for a self-help book, this is enlightening. If you're looking for a testimony of the wo I don't normally read biographies, however, since I am LDS, I have taken it upon myself to read many of those that are about the prophets of our religion. This one is particularly well written and the subject matter is surprisingly good material for LDS readers and others who may wish to see the personal drive, and inspiration, necessary to achieve that which was achieved by this great man. If you're looking for a self-help book, this is enlightening. If you're looking for a testimony of the worth of a man whom we hold to be a prophet of God you will be fulfilled.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Anita

    I read this book to fulfill the goal "read a biography". Ezra Taft Benson was a man who loved his god and his country. he served under president Eisenhower as secretary of agriculture while at the same time serving as an apostle in the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints. he would later become the president of the church (a.k.a the Prophet). while i did enjoy the book, if you would like the shortened version, the movie put out through Living Scriptures is just as good and will take a who I read this book to fulfill the goal "read a biography". Ezra Taft Benson was a man who loved his god and his country. he served under president Eisenhower as secretary of agriculture while at the same time serving as an apostle in the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints. he would later become the president of the church (a.k.a the Prophet). while i did enjoy the book, if you would like the shortened version, the movie put out through Living Scriptures is just as good and will take a whole lot less time to read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Joe N.

    A fantastic book. The insights into his personal life and character are invaluable. Ezra Taft Benson is truly inspiring and LDS and non-LDS alike would benefit tremendously by learning about his life. Few would be able to handle the load or the scope of his life's work. Ezra Taft Benson has indeed been motivated by worthy causes. His loyalties to God, to his family, and to his country have become legendary. His life has been an example of integrity, conviction, and principle.Such is the life of A fantastic book. The insights into his personal life and character are invaluable. Ezra Taft Benson is truly inspiring and LDS and non-LDS alike would benefit tremendously by learning about his life. Few would be able to handle the load or the scope of his life's work. Ezra Taft Benson has indeed been motivated by worthy causes. His loyalties to God, to his family, and to his country have become legendary. His life has been an example of integrity, conviction, and principle.Such is the life of a remarkable man - a prophet, patriarch, and patriot. Such is the life of Ezra Taft Benson.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Hecht

    I loved this biography of Ezra Taft Benson's life! What a powerful man of God! He grew up with strong moral character and it continued throughout his long life. He was an example of honesty, integrity, loyalty to God and His gospel. I'm glad I was alive during his time as our prophet. I could always feel his strong spirit when he spoke in conferences. I wish I had read this book years ago. Glad I finally did. I would recommend this book to everyone.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dad

    This book was very informative. I learned a lot about a man I revere as a prophet of God. He was the one who taught the Church to read the Book of Mormon daily and to stay away from pride. President Benson was a man about my Grandpa Merrill's age who grew up in the same area, northern Cache Valley. I enjoy reading books about righteous men and their lives. I have a lot of love for my grandpa also.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tony Derricott

    I really enjoyed the first part of the book; learning of the years before he became the prophet. I had known him as the prophet from Whitney -- the "town" next door to where I grew up. Now I have a more complete picture. I was a little disappointed that this book ended prior to his death. I don't mean that to sound macabre. It just seems like it ended before it ended; if you know what I mean.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    This biography is a wonderful portrayal of the prophet of my youth. This well-told biography shares the true story of a farm boy who would become one of the most influential men of his time -- not only for the LDS church, but also in his role as a pivotal cabinet member while also serving in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michele

    I really didn't expect to give this book 5 stars, but it was amazing. I learned a tremendous about about our past prophet, Ezra Taft Benson. His life was filled with so many dramatic changes, but he took them in stride and followed the Lord in faith. I also enjoyed reading about his wife, Flora. I learned a lot from her exceptional example, and I want to be more like her.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Shellie

    I've been reading this book for a long time and am happy to finally finish it, it took so long because I mostly only read it on Sunday's. I have loved every minute of this book!Ezra Taft Benson was a true man of God, I have come to know this and love this man and prophet through this well written book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    This is the most comprehensive and enjoyable biography that I have ever read. Dew does a wonderful job of bringing to life "T", and giving you a sense that he is one of your best friends. Ezra Taft Benson is an inspirational man, and reading this book will inspire within the reader a great sense of ability.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tanya W

    This was the first biography I read of a prophet. Not only was it very interesting, but it strengthened my testimony of prophets in a powerful way. Although Pres. Benson was not universally admired (a near impossibility for public servants with strong opinions), I put him on my list of people who helped make me a better person. His counsels blessed my life and had a permanent impact on me.

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