Season 2, Ep. 16, "Salamander: The Story of the Mormon Forgery Murders" -- a Conversation with Co-author Allen D. Roberts
3.22.2021 (Season 2: Episode 16; 62 minutes) To read the show notes includng a listed of related materials and the guest's bio, click here -- Utah Department of Heritage and Arts' Speak Your Piece Podcast.
Podcast Introduction: The Netflix documentary Murder Among the Mormons (released March 3, 2021, IMDb) has created much national interest, or should I say renewed national interest, in the story of murderer and master counterfeiter Mark W. Hofmann (professionally active 1978 to 1986).
In this episode of Speak Your Piece, historian Allen D. Roberts -- who wrote the book Salamander: The Story of the Mormon Forgery Murders (1988) with former Deseret News reporter and historian Linda Buhler Sillitoe -- describes essential aspects of the Hofmann story that were not included (or maybe landed on the cutting room floor) in Murder Among the Mormons.
Sillitoe's and Roberts' book Salamander was the first full length treatment on the subject, and endures today as the most complete, balanced and accurate, among the half dozen books written to explain, or defend, or to serve as exposé regarding this most complex 20th century Utah story.
John Sillito -- Linda Sillitoe's husband (the different spelling is intentional) -- recounts in the podcast how Linda, who is now deceased, saw her purpose as writing for "her tribe, her people," who she believed needed to understand the whole complex, messy and uncomfortable story. She also felt that she and Robert’s could "act as a translators" for those outside of their community, so they too could understand all the subtle aspects that someone outside might not understand or describe correctly.
To purchase a copy of Linda Sillitoe's and Allen Roberts' book click her: Salamander: The Story of the Mormon Forgery Murders (Signature Books, 1988, 2nd edition) **** On Kindle
Hofmann's apparently manipulated, deceived and defrauded his wife, parents, employees, investors, manuscript and rare book dealers, collectors, historians, curators, conservators and even America’s most respected forgery specialists. Revered and respected institutions -- including the Library of Congress, National Archives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- fared no better. I asked Roberts at the end of this episode, now some thirty-five years later, what he thought were Hofmann’s motives, which were not entirely made clear in the documentary Murder Among the Mormons.