Since the original exchanges and posting my review of the first section of JosephLied.com's web page below (2 postings down), I have had a chance to stop in at the Tanner's bookstore to check Mr. Norton's sources. I can now say with 100% confidence that 10 of 11 sources of Mr. Norton's materials in my review are in the Tanner's works. They are all in volume 1 of the Tanner's The Case Against Mormonism. It is a tribute to the Tanner's redundancy that many of the quotes are also in Mormonism: Shadow or Reality and The Changing World of Mormonism.
As I note in my review, it seems odd to me that Mr. Norton cannot find new material germane to the issue, being a self-described "huge history buff". It appears he lifts practically all of the arguments and citations from a single source, without attribution. In college and high school we call it plagiarism to "present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source" (Merriam-Webster Online). Even if he did it with the Tanner's permission, which he may have, to rework someone else's work as if it were your own original work is just not ethical to me. I probably have different standards than Mr. Norton. In some places it appears he uses their comments about the historical citations word for word and in summary, without citation.
I find Mr. Norton's apparent plagiarism an interesting study in double standards and hypocrisy. While asserting the Mormon Church is lying and distorting its history, he fails to tell us where his stuff really comes from, and worse, he distorts the supposed impact of the isolated examples he cites. He would have you believe that practically no Mormon until the 1890's was aware that God and Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in the 1st Vision, even though virtually 100% of the Church had copies of the official History of the Church, originally published in 1842, since the early 1850's with the original publication of the Pearl of Great Price.
He also would have you believe that even the people who wrote the Church history and presented the official doctrine of the Church were themselves unaware of who was present at the First Vision. He asserts Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, George Q. Cannon, George A. Smith, Orson Hyde, and many others were unaware of the appearance of the Father and the Son to Joseph in 1820, even though they spoke many times in explicit terms often precisely about the appearance of God the Father and Jesus Christ. He suppresses and ignores reports, even in some of the very citations he seems so unfamiliar with.
He also fails to tell you basic important facts, like the fact Joseph Smith's mother was absolute in her assertion of the Father and Son appearing to Joseph in 1820. One would think she would know, right, I mean she was afterall there in his youth.
Or he fails to tell you about the non-Mormon and anti-Mormon reports by people who knew Joseph in 1820, and remember him withdrawing from organized religion at that time, even though modern anti-Mormons try to move the date of his religious involment to 1824. Or the 1829 press accounts saying Joseph had spoken with God. I try to provide an abbreviated chronology of many of these confrimatory events in my review below.
So where does that lead one in figuring out whom to believe? Mr. Norton portrays the LDS Church membership as uninformed and misled, and its leaders as deceptive. And then he apparently plagiarizes his material. I think one should maybe turn to God, ask Him for His Spirit to guide them to truth. As my review indicates, and as I personally believe, we may not have an answer for every problem, but the Church's answers conform much more closely to history than the twisted representation anti-Mormons such as Mr. Norton ask us to believe.
So enjoy what you read. But you should probably check the sources, if they are listed.
Let me make one more point. This is by definition not a personal attack. It is a presentation and summary of facts. I have never met Mr. Norton face to face, nor spoken to him on the phone. We have corresponded via email, and that is it. He may be a wonderful person. But I believe he is representing the work on his website as his own, when in fact it appears mostly derived from other's published work. I believe that should give everyone pause about the trustworthiness of his conclusions. Beware of he who declares his own self-righteousness.
Furthermore, the characterizations of LDS history he makes he is entitled to make. I vigorously take issue with him about the limited data set he uses and the conclusions he draws. I cannot read his mind, so I truly do not know his motives, which is why I originally emailed him. I still do not know his motives, but I know what he says his motives are. The problem I have is now having looked closely at his work/actions, they do not seem to be in line with his expressed motives, and it makes me question everything he writes.
It has been my mantra since the first anti-Mormon material was given to me back in 1979: If the truth about the Mormons is so bad, why do anti-Mormons misrepresent their history and/or beliefs. My favorite is still when Ed Decker published a book saying that the reason Mormon chapels have spires is to impale Christ at His second coming. Literally unbelievable, and yet it gets published and some poor guy or women hears that, along with the other distortions they get, and it is one more objection to try keeping them out of the LDS Church. So whatever Mr. Norton's motives or reasons, I don't trust his scholarship or the conclusions he draws, and I would recommend the same to anyone else. This is the internet. Let the seeker beware.