I read "Into the Wild" and "Into Thin Air" - really liked the first, the latter was ok. "Under the Banner of Heaven" was a disappointment. Instead of discussing the crime, the book is really about Mormon history. It was so dry that I stopped listening after 2 discs. If you're looking for a book on Mormon history, this is a good book. If you like true crime stories (that's what I thought this was), then this isn't the story for you.
What a great listen. I learned, I was scared, and I wanted to know more. You should have a lot to learn from this book if you believe in a loving god.
I liked this book. Krakauer weaves the current timeline of recent events of the Lafferty killings, the Elizabeth Smart case and polygamist fundamentalist sects with a historical perspective of the LDS church. He attempts to show the motivations of religious fundamentalism and what grievous acts people will committ in the name of god.
Some people who are LDS members may be upset with some of Krakauer's historical accounts, especially regarding polygamy. I do not think Krakauer does this to attack LDS members, but to attempt to show the source of these fundamentalists' beliefs.
It is a great book and should receive a higher score, but some people have some moral problems with the book and are very harsh. I have read all of Krakauer's books and trust that he put a good amount of research forward.
The publisher says this is a book about Mormon fundamentalists. Mormons have not practiced polygamy since the 1800's. The people are not Mormons! They are groups totalyy unrelated to the LDS church.
Incredible amount of facts and reported unemotionally. Krakauer did his homework although I am sure religious zealots will try to downplay the role of religion (any religion) in unpleasant events. Any kind of religious bashing is nixed unless it is bashing Islam. I think Krakauer's book is thought-provoking and well done! Bravo.
I think that Mr. Krakauer has over-extending himself on this one, doing only cursory research from the most biased and subjective sources, obviously hoping to drum up an interesting novel, but not necessarily an accurate depiction of the facts. Just as we saw after "Into Thin Air" came out (where Jon's portrayal of the story was criticized by those who knew the facts) this book is so lop-sided and full of historical conjecture that it is a shame to see it placed in the "Non-fiction" section. (In the paper text there are suspiciously few source materials referenced.) In addition, the fundamental premise that authoritative religion has caused submissiveness and thus led to horrible acts such as murders clashes with:
1. The main story of the book about the Lafferty brothers. Brenda Lafferty was clearly thinking for herself and standing up to the fundamentalist fanatics in her family, contrary to the author's depiction of most LDS members.
2. The most fundamental Christian teachings of the LDS church to love one another, not kill, not steal, etc.
Using historical anomalies and fundamentalist heretics is no way to depict a specific religion, or a religion in general. Once again, Jon Krakauer is twisting the facts and making a profit at the expense of others. Does that sound like someone qualified to be writing about religion?
One wonders if Mr. Krakauer did any research from actual historical documents and newspapers or if he relied entirely on secondhand accounts, in this unfortunately error-laden book.
Even on the story that is the focus of the book, he fails to get the town the murders took place in instead placing them nearly 50 miles away. That is only one of many many factual errors, and if he is that sloppy and or misinformed about the murder case that is his centerpiece how many more lapses may be found with serious research.
While the premise sounds interesting, he fails to support his thesis. By using highly unusual cases of people who are on the fringe of their religious communities, Krakauer completely undercuts his argument that religion causes this kind of violence. The people that are highlighted would be just as likely to wreak violence in an athiest community as a devoutly religious one. In fact, by their very acts they reject the religious communities that they nominally do come from.
I wanted to like this book as I have enjoyed other of Krakauers work but I was unable to find much that was redeeming. Unless you simply want to believe that religion causes violence I suggest you look elsewhere, this book certainly won't change any minds.
This is a hard book to rate. Krakauer is a good writer. I think most people will find this book is both interesting and entertaining. However he had to stetch things quite a bit to support his basic thesis by using source material that seems to lack credibility.
If you want to know something about mormon history, this account is neither factually accurate nor balanced, so you'll want to look elsewhere for that.