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Under the Banner of Heaven Audiobook

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith

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Publisher's Summary

At the core of this book is an appalling double murder committed by two Mormon fundamentalist brothers, Ron and Dan Lafferty, who insist they received a revelation from God commanding them to kill their blameless victims. Beginning with a meticulously researched account of this "divinely inspired" crime, Krakauer constructs a multilayered, bone-chilling narrative of messianic delusion, savage violence, polygamy, and unyielding faith. Along the way, he uncovers a shadowy offshoot of America's fastest-growing religion, and raises provocative questions about the nature of religious belief.

Krakauer takes readers inside isolated communities in the American West, Canada, and Mexico, where some forty-thousand Mormon fundamentalists believe the mainstream Mormon Church went unforgivably astray when it renounced polygamy. Defying both civil authorities and the Mormon establishment in Salt Lake City, the leaders of these outlaw sects are zealots who answer only to God. Marrying prodigiously and with virtual impunity (the leader of the largest fundamentalist church took seventy-five "plural wives," several of whom were wed to him when they were fourteen or fifteen and he was in his eighties), fundamentalist prophets exercise absolute control over the lives of their followers, and preach that any day now the world will be swept clean in a hurricane of fire, sparing only their most obedient adherents.

Weaving the story of the Lafferty brothers and their fanatical brethren with a clear-eyed look at Mormonism's violent past, Krakauer examines the underbelly of the most successful homegrown faith in the United States, and finds a distinctly American brand of religious extremism. The result is vintage Krakauer, an utterly compelling work of nonfiction that illuminates an otherwise confounding realm of human behavior.

©2003 Jon Krakauer; (P)2003 Books on Tape, Inc., Published by arrangement with Random House Audio Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Krakauer lays the portent on beautifully, building his tales carefully from the ground up until they irresistibly, spookily combust." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Krakauer presents details that indeed sound stranger than fiction." (The New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (2541 )
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  •  
    Emrys Alfred, NY, United States 11-21-11
    Emrys Alfred, NY, United States 11-21-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Important info about Mormonism"

    The book provides important information about the Mormon church, its history and its offshoots. Essentially it tells of how much absurdity, hypocrisy, and violence there has been in Mormonism ever since Joseph Smith. It's good that this knowledge reaches a wider audience. I had two criticisms of the book: a) I thought the way it moved between present and past a bit pointless-- a case of the writer being arch; b) eventually the catalogue of crime, craziness, and hypocrisy becomes somewhat numbing.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peggy Wasilla, AK, United States 10-05-11
    Peggy Wasilla, AK, United States 10-05-11 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Narrator is annoying"

    I read the reviews before I spent my precious credit on this book. It had mixed reviews, but I thought I would be enlightened by the history. I read a review that complained about the narrator but ignored it and purchased it anyway. I really should have listened. The narrator, Scott Brick, is extremely annoying. He uses his voice to lead you to conclusions. It is difficult to get passed his voice when he used it to punctuate his bias. Granted much of what goes on in the plural families is disgusting and you grieve for the children’s abuse, but I want to draw my own conclusions. As a precaution, see if you can have a sample reading before you purchase the audio book, because who reads the book really makes a difference. This is unfortunately something I learned the hard way.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matt OVERLAND PARK, KS, United States 06-08-11
    Matt OVERLAND PARK, KS, United States 06-08-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Awesome book..... though pure lunacy"

    This book drives a couple of key points home for me. First, anyone who professes to have a direct communication line to God should be locked up. Second, steer clear of anyone in the 21st century who thinks the earth is 6,000 years old. Other than that, the book is extremely well written and researched. I had know idea how violent, racist and outright perverted the founders of the LDS church were. All in the name of Jesus? Yeah right.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MB 06-04-11
    MB 06-04-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Very disappointing"

    I had high hopes for this book. I like Krakauer and was interested to learn more about the fundamentalist mormons. The book was tedious and the narrator was a bit grating. I did finish listening, but it was a struggle to stick with it.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joanna San Pedro, CA, United States 09-23-10
    Joanna San Pedro, CA, United States 09-23-10
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    "Textbook, couldn't finish it"

    About a third of the way thru this book, I was disappointed that this was my bookclub's pick for the month. So I got a history lesson and then lots of examples of why I should hate the religious extremists. I couldn't finish the book, it was too much to handle to think this stuff goes on today. Plus the book had a more of a textbook feel to it, too many history lessons.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aidan New York, NY, United States 08-19-10
    Aidan New York, NY, United States 08-19-10
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    "An incredibly vivid, disturbing picture"

    This book weaves together a variety of narrative strands to present an interesting and detailed picture of Mormonism and Mormon fundamentalism. The implications are all really provoking - the book has a lot to say about people, about fundamentalism and religious violence of any kind, about Mormonism, and about the United States itself. The narrator is somehow totally endearing and occasionally totally terrifying. Very highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    bebe South Carolina 04-17-10
    bebe South Carolina 04-17-10 Member Since 2009

    English major, Attorney then CEO of 5000 employee company (in that order). I have over 1200 books in my Audible library.

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    "fascinating"

    This book is extrmely well researched and well wirtten by John Krakauer. The reader is very good. The story is absolute fascinating. It revolves around a horrific murder, which really happened, and the history of what could have created the monsters who commited the murders. The author presents the story in a well balanced manner. The story haunted me for many days after I listened to the book and has made me question things I had not questioned before - just makes you think. The book is well worth purchasing.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J Greenville, SC, United States 11-28-09
    J Greenville, SC, United States 11-28-09 Member Since 2008
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    "Not what you might expect"

    Krakauer is a good author, Scott Brick is excellent at narration and characterization.
    Krakauer states late in the book that this "isn't the book he set out to write," that it became quite different after his research. As the "reader," it wasn't quite what I expected either. Billed as an in-depth look into the murders Brenda and Elizabeth Lafferty in 1984, the book started out there, but quickly delved into a detailed description and history of the Mormon religion. After a tireless string of examples, I became tired, and it was a long time before we ever got to see how this affected the "incident" at the heart of the book. I know Mormons who considered this book an attack on their religion, and it is easy to see why, though Krakauer keeps his text accurate to history and published works. As a listener, I found the book very interesting and educational, if not a compelling listen.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul 10-30-09
    Paul 10-30-09 Member Since 2015

    I like books that have interesting characters and easy to follow plots. For example, Cormoran Strike, is a great character for me.

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    "Hard to listen to"

    This was a very troubling book. I'm sure it was truthful but that was the problem. The flagrant abuse of people's lives and their manipulation by the leaders of their community was too disturbing. The fact that this State allows this abuse and that its Senators and congresspeople are part of the conspiracy. The Federal government is most likely bought off in order to allow the people to enslave women.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas 11-03-08
    Thomas 11-03-08 Member Since 2007
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    "Interesting, but..."

    I found this book interesting, but it was a bit of slog to get through. The reader is a bit monotonous, but then the book is as well. I enjoyed the history of the Mormon church and now appreciate that it is as plagued by fundamentalist splinter groups as every other religion. However, if you are expecting the book to flow as a novel in the manner of Krakauer's other books, you may be disappointed.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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