Beginning with the Spanish Franciscan priests attempting to baptize Native Americans, Polygamy: An Early American History tours polygamist practices in the New World.
Not just interested in the what, the author looks into the underlying reasons for the popularity of multi-wife families. In the 1600s, wars cut down many Native men forcing a maiden to become a second wife if she wanted children of her own. As animal skins were becoming a valuable trading tool, more woman were needed to process the larger kills. In ultra-religious Puritan settlements, men asked why polygamy was fine for Abraham and other Old Testament men but not for them.
While it reads like the textbook it probably is destined to be, there is a wealth of information to be gleaned from Polygamy: An Early American History. The use of contemporaneous sources, including some shockingly blunt talk about sex acts, is intriguing. It is definitely written from a pro-polygamy point of view. If the subject sounds interesting or you are a polygamist, give it a try. 4 stars!
Thanks to Yale University Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.