In the Company of Prophets
By Heidi S. Swinton

Synopsis:  Written in 1993, this book has the long subtitle, “Personal Experiences of D. Arthur Haycock with Heber J. Grant, George Albert Smith, David O. McKay, Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, Spencer W. Kimball, and Ezra Taft Benson.” Heidi Swinton apparently wrote it from interviews with D. Arthur Haycock, the long-time Secretary to the Presidents of the Church. As secretary, Haycock was responsible for a variety of clerical matters, as well as travelling with and seeing to the well-being of the Presidents of the Church. As such, he has a wealth of experiences with several Presidents of the Church and other Church leaders.

Strong Points: This book offers the reader an interesting view of the inner workings of the Church and the lives of many Presidents of the Church. The book is entirely full of anecdotes, some commonly known and others uniquely from Haycock, as well as a narration of historical events to give the reader context for Haycock’s experiences. This makes for an interesting read for anyone who loves to read about the lives of the Prophets. As Arthur D. Haycock’s unique position provided him with daily interaction with Presidents of the Church, it is an intriguing idea for a book to see the Presidents of the Church through his lens. The book is enriching because it shows many sides to the Presidents of the Church, including their love and kindness, their defining character traits, their interests, their dietary preferences, their peculiar habits, and even moments when they show displeasure. All of it is appreciated and helps to round out our conception of each one.

Weak Points: While the book was meticulously accurate, I did find one factual error about Bruce R. McConkie. The book mistakenly referred to him as “an apostle” at the time that his father-in-law Joseph Fielding Smith was alive. In actual fact, Bruce R. McConkie was called to be an apostle by Harold B. Lee as a result of the death of his father-in-law. Also, it seemed to me that the book could have contained a lot more anecdotes than it did, for someone who spent so much time with the prophets. While it is a great contribution, it feels to me like so much more could have been done with the book and so much more information shared. For instance, I would have been interested to hear more about Haycock’s interactions with apostles from the Quorum of the Twelve, as well as the Presidents’ interactions with the other apostles. An interesting anecdote involving James E. Talmage was shared, but this was done in passing becausethat was not the focus of the book.

Interesting:  4.6/5

Must Read:  3/5

Overall: 3.5/5

Pages: 124

Selected Quotes:  “Each of the presidents had his own personality, and Arthur had to adapt to each one overnight. Looking back, he remembers the Church presidents like this: ‘President Heber J. Grant had tremendous fortitude and foresight. Anything he set his mind to do he accomplished, whether it was pitching baseball or financing Church projects. He was deeply committed to his people and their welfare in desperate times.
“‘President George Albert Smith was the most Christlike man I’ve ever known. He was gentle, kind, and totally devoted to mankind. He noticed only the good in others and was dedicated to organizations that helped develop strong character traits, like the Boy Scouts.
“‘President David O. McKay was tall and handsome. When he walked into the room it was just like electricity moving in every direction, and he had the capacity to quickly touch people’s hearts with his messages.
“‘President Joseph Fielding Smith was thoughtful, caring, and so very sensitive. He felt things so deeply and was easily touched by the littlest things. He had a sense of humor but he disliked having his picture taken, so I learned to place myself between him and any camera lens.
“‘None was more gracious, more hospitable, more capable or complex than President Harold B. Lee. He was always impeccably dressed, and he had an air about him that was inspirational. You could feel his presence in a small hall or a spacious auditorium.
“‘President Spencer W. Kimball had holes in his shoes – “worn out in the service of the Lord” he would say. He made time for everybody. When he was tired he would stretch out on his floor or his desk. He challenged the whole church to “lengthen their stride” and in the process moved the work forward immeasurably.
“‘President Ezra Taft Benson is formal and very definite about the way he wants things done. He is sincere, kind, believing, and dedicated to the work. He was trained by the Lord with very individual experiences that have opened doors around the world and refocused attention on the Book of Mormon.’” (p. xiv-xv).


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