The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990 Page: 549
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according to Hofmann, was intended for himself in what he alleged
was a bungled suicide attempt.
It is this unusual, complicated story that is related in two rather
different accounts: Robert Lindsey's A Gathering of Saints and Linda
Sillitoe and Allen D. Roberts's Salamander: The Story of the Mormon Forg-
ery Murders. Lindsey, a former reporter for the New York Times and re-
spected author, writes as an "outsider" to the Utah Mormon scene pre-
senting a fast-paced, "who done it" account, told primarily from the
vantage point of various law enforcement agencies trying to get to the
bottom of this unusual case. On the other hand, Sillitoe and Roberts,
both Utah-based Mormons, write as "insiders." They tell their story in a
most thorough manner, bringing to bear their impressive research-
much more extensive than that of Lindsey. This detail effectively pro-
jects the broad outlines of Mark Hofmann's complex, enigmatic per-
sonality. One also gains a sense of Hofmann's motives, which, while to a
large extent monetary, also included a strong, almost compulsive desire
to "rewrite Mormon history" in order to discredit the Mormon Church,
an organization that played such a central role in his own life, that
of his family, and of others close to him. He did this by creating contro-
versial documents such as the so-called "Salamander Letter" and the
Joseph Smith III Blessing, which not only brought into question certain
important Mormon beliefs but also the basic legitimacy of the Mor-
mon Church itself. Mark Hofmann vividly emerges from Sillitoe and
Roberts's account as a "sociopathic" personality, that is, as completely
devoid of conscience.
Despite its strengths, Sillitoe and Roberts's account has its problems.
It tends to be a tedious, almost encylopedic rendition of events, places,
and individuals. Also, the writers' "insider" status, while an attribute,
has its negative side in that it tends to lull them into assuming that all
their readers possess the same basic knowledge as themselves of the
Utah/Mormon scene. The overall study, moreover, seems to lack a clear
central theme or focus. By contrast, Lindsey's A Gathering of Saints is
more skillfully written, with a more vivid, engaging, prose style. The
author takes time to give the reader a clear feeling for all the principal
personalities and to carefully place the story of what happened within
the larger social, cultural environment peculiar to Utah. Lindsey's work
has a clear central theme as reflected in his title "A Gathering of Saints,"
that is, the central role played by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-
day Saints, its members, and its ideology and beliefs.
Since both A Gathering of Saints and Salamander have strengths as well
as weaknesses, it is difficult to recommend one book over the other.
Indeed, the two books complement each other. Thus the interested
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990, periodical, 1990; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101213/m1/619/: accessed December 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.