This book is written as a historical account of how the mormon chuch came about. It explains how the American government interfered in mormon ideals. The clash caused a split in the base of mormon faith and the result was mormon fundamentalism. Persecuted by non-believers(gentiles) across the United States to Utah, Brigham Young encouraged the fundamentalist faction in secret from members opposed to extremist ideas after Joseph Smith was murdered for his outspoken conviction. The Lafferty brothers were fundamentalists. This book tries to clarify the reasoning behing the murders by exposing the psychology behind this fervent faith.
I can understand how mormon church members will be outraged by this title, even though Jon Krakauer's references and documentation of history are unarguable. I learned a lot from this book and grew up quite familiar with the LDS church. The fundamentalist mormon is uncommon and a minority when compared to the membership of the general church. They are not recognized as true members by those who practice present-day guidelines.
Krakauer ties history in well with personal interviews and contemporary news of the murder of Brenda Lafferty and her baby and the kidnapping account of Elizabeth Smart in Salt Lake City. He gives good insight into the mind of someone who's ideals are utterly possessed or controlled by certainty of doctrine. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in historical or religious fact.
Smithy, the main character, bothered me too much to entertain any pleasure from this book. He was an unlikeable, lazy human. He didn't enjoy much about life and didn't have any ambitions. He was nice, but completely feckless and taken advantage of by just about everyone he met. I wanted to like him because I felt sorry for him. Smithy was so loathesome I couldn't even force myself to develop a scrap of concern and actually rolled my eyes throughout the course of the story. The amount of times his life was endangered was quite ridiculous and at certain points I wished he wouldn't survive because I wanted the book to make an unpredictable turn- which it didn't. However, McLarty did an excellent job as narrator. A+ for character voices.
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