Professor Larson's first chapter sets the style and tone of his entire book. This short introduction to the history of the Great Basin before the coming of the Mormons does not attempt to give the reader a detailed report of all that occurred but rather a brief insight into the fact that the basin area was well known to a few hundred white men before the Mormons set foot on it. The material given is remarkably complete for such brevity, and although it does not concern the Mormon people, it is of good general interest.
The next two chapters are background history of the Mormon people before they came to Utah. As a history of the state, these chapters would be superfluous if the history of Utah was not so interwoven with the religion of the Latter-day Saints that an understanding of one cannot be had without an understanding of the other.