Let me begin by saying it is not a comprehensive review because I am still reading several other books at present but let me at least give you some impressions.
1st – Kathleen Flake is a very entertaining writer. Her style is not caught up in impressing you with her understanding of large academic words, to me that is a huge benefit. She also does an excellent job of setting the scene and showing the challenge that both sides faced in this situation.
2nd – the issue as argued by Professor Flake is that Mormon adherance to the principal had only been effected political pressure where military and legal pressure failed.
The other side story is how Joseph F. Smith took the church, dependant on the “Principle”, and made it fit more into a modern church without polygamy.
I found her argument compelling however I am still unsure of how much of Joseph F. Smith’s understood of the pressure put on Polygamy by the hearings. In at least two different books I have read Smith either meant the second manifesto or he did not but was forced into accepting that it must be enforced.
The other side effect of this effort to put the church down a different road is how the church focused on its early history without polygamy. I think here Flake is on safe ground as the modern church has for the most part tried to skip plural marriage as a discussion since the beginning of the 20th century.
While I cannot rank this work, I do think it offers a peak into a period which few modern Latter-day Saints really understand or appreciate.