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A Gathering of Saints: A True Story of Money, Murder and Deceit

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  235 ratings  ·  46 reviews
As he proved in The Falcon & the Snowman, Robert Lindsey is a masterful journalist with a genius for suspense & an unerring eye for provocative stories. A Gathering of Saints is an astonishing report on one of this century's most puzzling, cunningly executed crimes. 16 pages of photos. ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published September 15th 1988 by Simon & Schuster (NYC)
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Dec 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book intersected two of my fascinations: belief systems and forgeries. It's a bizarre story set in a religious world that is both familiar and oddly foreign, like seeing a familiar photo in false colors and warped. I won't summarize - you can find a summary with a click.

The most clever move that Mark Hofmann made was to "discover" manuscripts that were mildly disruptive to the carefully redacted and cultivated Mormon history. This produced enough anxiety in the Mormon leadership to assure
Mar 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People interested in nonfiction, murder mysteries, world religions
Recommended to Brittany by: My mom
Shelves: nonfiction, mystery
How I Came To Read This Book: Back when the OIympics were held in Salt Lake City, my mom thought it'd be a good time for me to learn about Utah's relationship with the Mormon religion / culture. And thus, she gave me this book.

The Plot: This is a book that unveils the history of Mormonism (and a shaky one at that) combined with a fascinating true life murder / terrorist mystery, when several seemingly randomly selected people are the victims of bomb attacks. The story then threads together the h
Jack Waters
Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
Nicely paced and pretty exhaustive -- the research is well-done. I've been obsessed with this story for years since a few tendrils of the story cast a shadow on my own life: my aunt and uncle were friends and business partners with both of the bomb victims, and as fate would have it, my family was living with my aunt and uncle during the bombings as we prepared to move to Arkansas. News helicopters and bomb squads were sent to our home. I was a mere 2.5 years old so I don't have a firsthand memo ...more
couldn't get into this book.. ...more
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
So I pick this book off the shelf as I'm looking for something for a trip and on the cover I see big red "A Gathering of Saints" in gothic like letters, a picture of a home-made dynamite type bomb with an old watch thing on it (which btw was a lie - was all pipe bombs), a plug "Wonderfully Suspenseful....A Terrific Read!" and "story of Murder, Money and Deceit". Seems like a good fast thiller type. Start the book and in the first 10 pages or so, all prologue and set in the mid-80's, we get bombs ...more
Erik Graff
Dec 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Mormons
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
My wife's aunt married a Mormon elder, a bishop, a professor at Northwestern, and he persistently tried to convert me, emphasizing the socialistic practices of his community. It didn't work, but it did pique my interest in the faith.

One of the many books I read about Mormonism was this exposition of what had been items in the press during the eighties. The background, something I hadn't known, was that in fact there were two Mormon churches surviving from the days of Joe Smith's murder, a third
Mike Russell
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fascinating read. I remember living through the bombings and press releases. All the talk of old documents and the salamander letter being discovered was absorbing, but even more so to learn they were all forgeries. This unbiased view written by a non member holds no punches and makes no effort to protect any party, including the church and its leaders, from looking bad. Over time, the impact has faded, but this look back more than 30 years ago is engrossing.
Jill Crosby
May 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
My favorite of "The Mormon Forgery Murders" books; well-organized and very readable. ...more
Teri Uktena
Mar 25, 2021 rated it did not like it
The writing style of the time was to include the origin story of every...single...person they thought should be part of the narrative. And each of these is written in the purple prose style of, "It was a dark and stormy night...". These usually come before we know or care how this person relates to the events at all, which ends up being fairly tangentially, and it's all chaff which in the end takes away and confuses the relevant facts which are meant to create a cohesive narrative. At least that ...more
Kaly Harward
Mar 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
I read this in advance of the Netflix series about Hofmann. I remember adults around my mostly childless world talking about Hofmann a lot as this was happening. The Netflix series was great nostalgia seeing the videos, but reading this well written, meticulously detailed account of the story sure shows a much deeper story than the show.

Excellent read, will be looking at Lindsey’s other works. The moral of this story is a big one, everyone lies to serve their own self interest from conman to ch
Mar 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Pioneer Book: topic of interest to a friend
What an interesting book. It got me into some fascinating history that I knew nothing about previously. The first part and the last part went really quickly and were easy to read. This entire middle was very long and confusing, with a ton of names to keep track of, but I suppose this was parallel to the investigation if Mark Hofmann himself. Overall it was fun to read about some history where the people are still living around my area.
I found this book at a second hand book sale, so had no idea what to expect. It was extremely well researched and, considering the monumental amount of information covered and incredible degree of complex knowledge required to collate all those facts, it still held my interest and was an extraordinarily "readable" book. ...more
Jul 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Too much information about the Mormon church, too many documents that may or may not be true, and way too many ancient document dealers vying for these documents. Greed seems to be the driving force on the evil deeds that take place.
Jan 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Sorry. I just couldn’t finish this one. It just wasn’t for me.
Apr 15, 2020 rated it liked it
True account of the history & beliefs of the Mormon church and a scandal in the 1980's involving forgery & murder. Interesting but sometimes tedious. ...more
Adrian Foster
Mar 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
An outstanding account of the Hoffman murders back in the early 80's. ...more
Steele At
Jun 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
The story of the "salamander letter".

This was a painful effort. I admire Mr. Lindsey for the extraordinary effort it must have taken to compile all of the facts within this story. I believe he was as honest and fair as a man could be that was not in the Church. He did an excellent job of creating a marvelous story from reality.

As a Mormon, I like to believe that I know how the Church works. It was a challenge to read this book because it makes one question personal beliefs. By reading the book,
May 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
I love reading about Mormon hypocrisy. I've read "Under the Banner of Heaven" and all the books written by plural wives and lost boys that lived under Warren Jeff's insane regime. This book is another great read if one is interested in that subject. It is about a Mormon document dealer who forged supposedly bombshell letters and scripts in order to embarrass the church. The Mormon hierarchy went through all kinds of gymnastics to purchase and bury these controversial documents. One quote from th ...more
Jan 07, 2015 added it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I found this book absolutely fascinating. The title does not clue you in to the specific event of the book so I must have looked over this book on my dad's book shelf a dozen times without pulling it out. Recently I mentioned to him that I did not know much about the Salt Lake City bombings that occurred in October 1985 in connection with forgeries of Mormon documents. My dad recommended this book among three others on the subject as the one that reads the most "like a novel." Novel indeed, Lind ...more
Feb 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an absolutely riveting true crime book. It's probably more interesting for me because I live in the area in which these crimes were committed, and I am actually old enough to *remember* them being reported on TV. I remember the scared faces of my parents--all the adults I knew, really, watching the news reports with an intensity I had never seen before. It frightened me. Although I was not old enough to really understand the events unfolding around me, I sensed that the adult generation ...more
Margaret McCamant
May 06, 2009 rated it liked it
I just finished this book and was pretty much captivated by the story all the way. I heard a talk by a rare-books dealer in April, describing how competition and confidentiality agreements with their clients make dealers less scrupulous than they should be about tracing the provenance and authenticity of items they buy and sell. She mentioned the Mormon forgeries case and I looked for books about it. This turns out to be about much more than forgery, including murder, father-son issues, and a fa ...more
Michael Brown
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
“A Gathering of Saints: A True Story of Money, Murder and Deceit” by Robert Lindsey is a great book. It keeps you on the edge of your seat as you follow all the principle players till the resolution. This is the third book by the author of “The Falcon and the Snowman.”

This story is the true story of Mark Hofmann and the forgeries and bombs he set off to cover his tracks. This would make a great movie. This book is not a case for or against Mormonism but more about the attempts of one man to prof
Mar 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
crazy! i can't believe i'm related to this dude. all my life i heard my parents joke about "mom's cousin: the uni-bomber" but i never knew the story and lindsey does a fantastic job of relaying it. my only critique was that it got a little person-heavy at points and those persons didn't seem to have a real strong connection to the story, so that i could have done without. as an active Later-Day Saint it was at times a little uncomfortable to read but i think i learned, as did church leaders at t ...more
Dec 21, 2008 rated it liked it
Mark Hoffman totally fooled almost everybody with his forgeries. As his greediness began to close in on him he set off three bombs in Salt Lake City. Another writer wrote of the incident as the Mormon Murders.

Hoffman was selling the forgeries to the LDS church who bought them to keep their history hidden. Hoffman was a deceiver, but the easiest people to deceive are other deceivers.

I thought this book was more comprehensive than The Mormon Murders.
Jun 23, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, crime
An interesting foray into the secretive world of the Mormon Church and historical-document dealers, sparked by the bombing murder of two Salt Lake City residents, as well as another bombing that opened the doors to a determined police investigation. The story lagged a bit, but I found it comepelling enough that I wanted to know, "why." There will be some who will just see "Mormon bashing" in the book, but I think Lindsey tried to take the middle road, letting others critique and he report. ...more
Brian Durfee
Sep 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
#46 A GATHERING AF SAINTS: A True Story Of Money, Murder, and Deceit by Robert Lindsey. Durfee's top 50 non-fiction books countdown. The riveting account of master forger and bungling car bomber Mark Hofmann. I asked one of the lead investigators in the case which (of the 3 books written about Hofmann) was the most fair and accurate. He chose GATHERING OF SAINTS over THE SALAMANDER LETTER and THE MORMON MURDERS
David Schwan
Sep 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
What a convoluted story! This book goes into great detail about a document dealer turned forger and murderer. Mark Hoffmann turned out to be the biggest document forger uncovered in modern times. He was responsible for many forgeries related to the history of the Morman church (LDS) in addition to other forged letters and signatures. Through relentless detective work the story of some of the forgeries and the story of the murders was unraveled.
Jan 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Read this years ago. More interesting now that I live in Missouri and come into contact with more of the Mormon world. Non-fictional account of murders driven by greed within the church and a disturbed young man who made a fortune forging Mormon artifacts. Learn a lot about Mormon beliefs from the book, the good as well as the ugly.
May 20, 2007 rated it liked it
Half-way through this book. Very fascinating read on the history of the Mormon church as well as the scandal that rocked the church in the mid-80's with the release of some controversial historical documents. ...more
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Robert Lindsey (born 1935) is a journalist and author of several true crime books, including The Falcon and the Snowman: A True Story of Friendship and Espionage (1980), the story of Christopher John Boyce and Andrew Daulton Lee, who were both convicted of selling information to the Soviets. The Flight of the Falcon: The True Story of the Escape and Manhunt for America's Most Wanted Spy (1983) fol ...more

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