Take one disaffected young Mormon, take the innate need for the Salt Lake City
based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to own and control any
document that might have a negative impact on the origins of their church and
the life of it's founder Joseph Smith Jr.
Take greed and the murder of two totally innocent parties in the Autumn of 1985,
and you have the basis of a best selling novel.
What we actually do have here, from Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith,
two American lawyers, is a true account of former Mormon missionary Mark
Hofmann and his life of counterfeiting, forgery and finally double murder.
This was a case which rocked both the Mormon community in Utah and the
whole of the USA.
The book is an extremely well written account of his crimes,amongst which
were his 'finding' of a supposedly unknown and unpublished poem by Emily
Dickinson, the Anthon manuscript, the infamous "Salamander Letter" and
other early documents in the history of the Mormon church and of the USA.
Hofmann's greed and the need of the Mormon church to protect it's dubious
historical origins from open ridicule, coupled with the Mormon habit of "Lying
for the Lord" are all revealed here.
During the course of his trial, we learn of his bombing campaign, the murder
of an innocent man and woman, and his attempt to hide his crimes by
becoming a 'victim' himself of one of his own home made bombs.
This one time, clean cut Mormon boy who served a mission in Bristol, England,
is now a lifer in the Utah State Prison at Draper, Utah. Where he has
been since 1988.
Published by Weidenfeld & Nicholson in 1988, 450 pages, photographs,and good
index, the book is still available in paperback and as a hard cover edition.
An excellent read, giving some insights into the mind of a Mormon who
turned against his own church with a vengeance.
on 25 March 2006
As part of a scathing depiction of a deceitful, materialistic Mormon Church, lawyers Naifeh and Smith (co-editors of the biennial directory The Best Lawyers in America , etc.) point out that the 1985 Salt Lake City scandals and bombings that convulsed the community had a precedent in certain dubious practices of the church's prophet and founder Joseph Smith. The suspenseful plot, involving a series of murders and a large cast of Mormons and police investigators, centers on the purchase and suppression by church officials of authentic and forged documents that cast doubts on basic tenets of their faith and attested to the cover-up of Smith's unsavory past. Under the threat of blackmail, the church bought many of these documents from the dealer-bomber Mark Hofmann; according to the authors, Hoffmann, after confessing the murders and forgeries, was allowed, thanks to the church's political influence, to plea bargain the murder indictment into a manslaughter charge thereby sparing the church an embarrassing trial that could have revealed its complicity. Gripping stuff, but material like this can't affect faith.