By Dennis Gaunt
Deseret Book, 2011
Review by Heather B. Moore
I had a conversation once with another Book of Mormon novelist about characterizing the infamously “wicked” King Noah. The other author thought he was wicked through and through, with no redeeming value. Perhaps that was the case toward the end of his life, although we cannot truly know the deep motivations or potential of another. I considered the “why’s” and “how’s” of King Noah and his evil court. What had led him through the series of events that culminated in sentencing a true prophet of the Lord to a fiery death? (See Mosiah 17.)
Did King Noah have a lousy childhood while his father, King Zeniff, was busy running a nation and his mother attended to her vast queenly duties? Perhaps Noah was mistreated by a nanny who raised him; or perhaps he was the brunt of schoolyard jokes . . . Was he uncoordinated? Did he have a hard time making real friends? Was he a lousy hunter?
Whatever drove Noah to spiral down the path of greed, selfishness, and eventual destruction, one thing is clear: we can learn from his choices. They were certainly subtle in the beginning. Maybe he stopped saying his prayers, he chose the wrong friends, or he let his pride swell exponentially as he prepped to become the heir to the throne.
This same sentiment is echoed by author Dennis Gaunt in his non-fiction book, Bad Guys of the Book of Mormon. Reading about the villains of the scripture can teach us how to avoid the same pitfalls.
Gaunt makes an excellent case for learning the enemies’ strategy in the ever-escalating spiritual war—a war in which two sides are battling for our souls. If we want to win, we must think like a military leader. A successful military leader studies every move his enemy is making. Gaunt suggests that we plan our own counter-attack by educating ourselves on the “bad guys in the Book of Mormon. Let’s learn to be smarter than they are. Let’s learn their tactics. See what tricks they used. Peek at their maps and plans. Pinpoint their lies. Point out the holes in their arguments. Let’s see how faithful people just like you and me resisted and defeated them in the past. Let’s be ready to face the bad guys of today” (8).
I couldn’t agree more. I echo Gaunt’s petition that we must stay proactive, we must stay diligent, and we must stay educated and aware of the adversary’s power, so that, we can “rejoice and exult in the hope” of Christ (Alma 28:12).
I highly recommend this book to adults and youth alike. Gaunt is witty, humorous and insightful, sharing personal experiences in a highly readable and entertaining way.