While accentuating the lives of controversial Mormon leaders Winston Blackmore, the Bountiful, B.C.-based self-appointed prophet who has had more than 25 wives and sired more than 100 children, as well as the American Warren Jeffs, who accumulated more than 70 wives in Salt Lake City in the 1990s, Daphne Bramham explores how polygamy and sex with minors has been perpetuated with minimal prosecution in The Secret Lives of Saints: Child Brides and Lost Boys in Canada's Polygamous Mormon Sect (Random House $32.95). Her far-reaching and intensive exposé examines how young men and boys are exploited as cheap labour or else ostracized by the sect's leaders, arguably victimized by the institutionalization of polygamy as much as young Mormon girls and women. It's a provocative and well-researched study, accumulated from articles written by Bramham over several years, after she was forcefully encouraged to write about the polygamist sect by an unsolicited letter from fiction writer Jancis Andrews. Braham's investigation essentially picks up from where Debbie Palmer's award-winning memoir of her escape from Bountiful left off. [See Palmer entry]

Bramham is a Vancouver Sun columnist who was named Commentator of the Year by the Jack Webster Foundation in 2005. The Secret Lives of Saints was shortlisted for British Columbia's National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction.

[BCBW 2009] "Religion" "Women"