On August 12, 2008, Ron Walker, Glen Leonard, and Richard Turley were at Salt Lake City’s Benchmark Books for a book signing and discussion. Again, our friend, the indefatigable Brent Brizzi was on hand and has provided the Juvenile Instructor with a transcript of the evening’s proceedings. It’s somewhat long, but all good, so I will post it parts. Before doing so, I just want to summarize for readers a few Mountain Meadows Massacre items that have been in the news lately:
1) Notes from the September 5, 2008 Panel Discussion on the Book.
2) That panel was recorded and will be podcast at KCPW at some point.
3) Be sure to check out the book’s website, http://mountainmeadowsmassacre.org.
Without further ado, the Benchmark Books-MMM discussion:
Curt Bench Introduction: …They expect the 2nd printing, and they’re doing 5,000 which is dumb, of course they don’t ask people who actually sell books. It’s a University Press, Oxford University Press, and University presses usually do very conservative numbers, it’s not unusual for them to publish 1,500 to 3,000 books, so they probably thought they were really going big with 6,500. [Someone at this point asked Curt how many he thinks they should have published, he replied: 10,000 anyway that they were originally going to do.]…
No, I will be brief, and then each of the authors is going to take a turn to say a little bit about the book, and we’re going to open it up for questions, and I’m sure there will be some good ones, lots to ask about this subject, and then after that we invite all of you who have books to come back down into the store, they will continue to sign books as long as there’s books to sign, we got to as many of you as we could to make books available, the publisher shorted themselves and all of us, and so we got caught by a short print run, so I apologize, so we will do this we promise. If you are not able to get a book tonight, as soon as the 2nd printing comes in, if you will sign up with us tonight, we will have the authors sign that, or if you have more than one copy signed, and we will get them to you, we will hold them at our store, or if necessary if you live a long way away we will ship those to you at no cost because we do feel bad that this happened….With that out of the way, it’s my privilege to introduce the three distinguished authors of “Massacre at Mountain Meadows, An American Tragedy”, Ronald Walker, and Richard E. Turley Jr., and Glen Leonard. I’m fortunate to be able to say that I’m not introducing them cold, no pun intended. I’ve known each of them for quite a few years, in fact Rick grew up in the ward where we live now, where my wife grew up, and so we’ve known him for a long time.
They also have, each of them has other books as well as this one. Rick also wrote, “Victims”, about the Mark Hofmann case, which is on our sale table, sorry. [laughter]. Equal apology to, although we didn’t have anything to do with it, to Glen Leonard who has written a number of things including “Nauvoo, A Place of Peace, A People of Promise”, that’s also on our sale table. Ron’s the only one that doesn’t have books on the sale table. He’s done a number of books including “Wayward Saints” about the Godbeites. So we welcome you to also purchase any of those books tonight which we have in some supply, anyway.
Ron Walker said that he would not put his name on the book unless it was an open, honest, and candid history that he could feel good about putting his name on, and as I pointed out there, not only is his name on the book, but it’s the first one listed, so obviously Ron, and all of them feel good about the effort they’ve done. I’m sure they would point it out, but just so that you know, this is just volume 1, of a two volume projected set of books, and I’ll let them talk more about that. I do want to read a couple of excerpts that was advance acclaim at the time from other authors, and historians. One called it: “A vivid, gripping narrative of one of the most notorious mass murders in all American history, and a model for how historians should do their work”.
Kathleen Flake says: “This uniquely well documented account of a highly contested event may make obsolete previous studies and without doubt will constitute the necessary starting point for all future ones.” Richard Bushman said: “The authors of Massacre at Mountain Meadows have written the best researched, most complete, and most evenhanded account of the Mountain Meadows incident we are likely to have for a long time.” Just really quickly, you’re going in which order? First, you’ll hear from Ronald W. Walker, who’s now a private, professional historian, he was a professor of history at BYU, and the author of many books and articles on the history of the Mormons, The West. I’m not going to go into much detail at all. Glen Leonard has been the director of the Museum of Church History and Art for a number of years, he just got home from a mission, I think they wanted him to get out of town. [laughter]. He has also written a number of articles and books. Richard Turley was just named the Assistant Church Historian for the LDS Church, prior to that he was the managing director of the Church’s Family, and Church History Department, and has had a number of other positions, and has written widely, including the book that I showed you on the Mark Hofmann case, so without going into any further detail, I’m going to turn the time over to them, then we’ll entertain your questions. I think we’re in for a wonderful evening, thank you again for coming. [Applause].