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Secrets & Wives

Secrets & Wives

The Hidden World Of Mormon Polygamy (Soft Skull Press)

What do we really know about modern polygamists? We've seen the news storiesin recent years about the underage brides in prairie dresses, but that's just the FLDS, one of many groups who practice polygamy in the Mormon tradition. There's also the Order, the TLC, the AUB and thousands of independents. It's estimated that over 40,000 Mormon fundamentalists live underground in the American West.

In Secrets & Wives, Sanjiv Bhattacharya gains unprecedented access to their world, a teeming shadow country of crazed prophets, high drama and dark secrets, where some feel at home and others are desperate to leave. He lives with a community that inhabits a giant rock on the Moab desert. Meets a prophet who works at Wal-Mart and converses with beings from other planets. He finds disturbing evidence on his travels, of forced marriage, incest and physical abuse, and as he digs, the intrigue draws him in - a former child-bride wants help in escaping; strange packages arrive in the post; there are mystery calls in the night. But Bhattacharya also finds warmth and humanity in the fundamentalist diaspora, moving into one community for weeks, holding dinner parties and discovering a Bollywood fan club for kids.

By turns harrowing, hilarious, heartbreaking and bizarre, Secrets & Wives is more than just an unflinching expose of a world we never see. It's the personal journey of an atheist and liberal, a stranger in a strange land who grapples with hard questions about marriage, monogamy and the very nature of faith.