I knew as soon as I opened to the introduction of I Will Lead You Along: The Life of Henry B Eyring I knew I was going to like it. It opens with one of my favorite scriptures, Doctrine & Covenants 78:17-18, from which the title of this book is taken.
It’s not a small biography (499 pages, plus notes and an index), but then Henry B Eyring, or “Hal” as he is called throughout the book, has not led a small life. Some things I knew already—that he was well-educated, that his father was a well-known scientist, that he became a university professor—but I learned there was so much more that I didn’t know. For example, he has always gone by Hal, a nickname given him in very early childhood because his mother didn’t like the name Henry. I was a bit amused by that since he shares his father’s name.
A Lifelong Journal Keeper
I learned that he has kept a lifelong journal. Since I’ve been journaling since I was 12, I am always happy to find a fellow journal-keeper. In fact, much of the book comes from Hal’s journals and is even in his own words. What great insight it gave me to read his own thoughts, observations and feelings about his life. With numerous illustrations—both Hal’s own sketches (part of his journal) and many photographs—I really feel like I know President Eyring now. He is not just a counselor to the living prophet (as if anyone would ever be “just a counselor to the living prophet”); the biography did a superb job of bringing his story to life and bringing him down to earth.
I also learned that President Henry B Eyring had been the president of Ricks College and spent many years working for CES, the educational services department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I learned that he served in the US Air Force in Albuquerque, and at the same time, served as a district missionary during his two years there. He met his wife Kathy while he was studying at Harvard and didn’t marry until his late 20s, which was somewhat unusual for a Mormon man of that time. He had many opportunities for high-powered business careers, but decided instead to teach, and then later use his education and skills to serve God.
I was impressed by his introspective nature, and reading about how he so often pondered on what he perceived as his weaknesses and what he could do to improve himself, I find myself pondering on similar topics and looking at how might improve myself and be more fit and more worthy to serve. For me, this was one of those books that I toted around with me and read in every spare moment. There more I read, the more I wanted to read and found myself more and more engrossed as I got deeper into his story.
I have always felt the best measure of a book is if it leaves you changed for the better, and it makes you think and reflect on your life in some way. This book definitely did all that for me.
Of all the biographies I have read of LDS leaders (and there have been quite a few), I think this one is my favorite. There is just something about Hal Eyring and his life that just drew me in and made me want to spend more time with him. I am sure now I will be listening even more closely to his next conference talks.
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