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Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith | [Jon Krakauer]

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith

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. 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.
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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

4.1 (1929 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Stephanie Korsage chicago il 06-15-05
    Stephanie Korsage chicago il 06-15-05 Member Since 2015
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    "very informative and frightning"

    This is a interestingly written story
    about Mormonism and the preceipts of the
    faith. I found myself questioning the begings of most religions and the profits that
    ussure in these faiths.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Larry M. Sumerford 04-17-04 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    6
    3
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    "The power of religion"

    If you like human behavior, why people behave the way they do and the power of religion, this book is for you. Every chance I got, I listened.

    3 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne Lynn Haven, FL, United States 10-12-12
    Anne Lynn Haven, FL, United States 10-12-12 Member Since 2015
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    "Under the Banner of Heaven very UNDERWHELMING"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    I think the biggest problem with this audiobook was the boring narrator's voice. I listen to a lot of audio and I've never been so bored as I was with this. Don't waste your audio credits on this - it's not worth it.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Steven Colbert's American thing.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Scott Brick?

    I don't know.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Under the Banner of Heaven?

    It's not a matter of cutting scenes, but there needs to be a more convincing voice.


    Any additional comments?

    Ugh! Just ugh!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Siporin Eugene, OR USA 10-01-12
    J. Siporin Eugene, OR USA 10-01-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Thought-provoking & Disturbing. Great Performance."

    I didn't expect to like this book. I thought it was one of those books I "should" read. I'm glad I did. People SHOULD read this book - preferably before the election. It opened my eyes, not only to the [unbelievable] roots of Mormonism and disturbing history of fundamental Mormonism, but it made me look at my own thinking about God, listening to my heart, being true to what I think is "right". Since religion is, in essence, irrational, then where do we draw the line between passionate belief / conviction and being psychotic? ("God wanted me to murder those people.") Compelling arguments for both sides were brought out towards the end of the book. The author's note at the end reveals how deeply the psychology worked into a fundamentalist Mormon who thought he had "left the church."

    I was left baffled by how quickly this "religion" is growing despite it's disturbing history and tenets, and concerned about the future impact of this increasing voting block. The fact that we have a Black president running against a Mormon is worth noting since the founder of Mormonism didn't believe that black people were even human. I'm paraphrasing a little bit: ".. God gave them [blacks] speech just like a human, and they walk upright like a human; however, they are only the highest form of animal" OMG! REALLY? There have been SOME accommodations in the present day practices which allow blacks to participate in church affairs, but broad acceptance is debatable.

    So much in this book was disturbing: egotistical, self-righteous males, seemingly powerless, brain-washed women and the rape of innocent children who had no choice to "marry" their own fathers or other family "friends". I can find compassion for them all - including the men who have / had been raised by fundamentalist Mormon families; they have been isolated from public schooling and anyone who thinks differently than them. One can say they didn't know any better. Maybe the rest of us should be knocking on their doors; start a conversation.

    There's a lot of food for thought in this discomfiting book, and it's worth looking in the mirror.

    Scott Brick did an excellent job of interpreting the tenor of the characters in the book.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jaye GREENWICH, CT, United States 05-24-12
    jaye GREENWICH, CT, United States 05-24-12 Member Since 2012

    AUDIBLE MAKES READING POSSIBLE AND EASY FOR ME...I AM VISUALLY IMPAIRED. I WISH THEY HAD ALL THE BOOKS I WANT I WOULD SNAP THEM UP!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "THIS BOOK COULD HAVE BEEN 2 HOURS SHORTER."
    Would you try another book from Jon Krakauer and/or Scott Brick?

    DEPENDS ON THE BOOK.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    CUT 2-3 HOURS OUT OF THE BOOK.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    THE PARTS OF THE BOOK THAT TALKED ABOUT THE HYPOCRISY OF JOSEPH SMITH. HE HAD A LOT OF NERVE.


    Could you see Under the Banner of Heaven being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    NOT A SERRIES. MAYBE A MOVIE.


    Any additional comments?

    I WISH THIS BOOK CONCENTRATED ON MARK HOFFMAN MORE. I READ A BOOK ABOUT HIM. IT WAS REALLY INTERESTING. IT IS NOT ON AUDIO THO.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebeka Wentzville, MO, United States 02-19-12
    Rebeka Wentzville, MO, United States 02-19-12 Member Since 2015

    Average stay at home housewife with 3 kiddos trying to learn about new somethings in the world. Only non-fiction! No time wasters for me!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Krakauer is full of KRAK! DON'T WASTE your $$$!"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Okay, first of all, I have to say that I ONLY purchased the book because of it's reference in on of my favorite reads


    What was most disappointing about Jon Krakauer’s story?

    Fiction. I only enjoy non-fiction stories that I can learn something from.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    Researched the annunciation of words before he verbally abused me with them.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Actually…no redeeming qualities whatsoever. I think this book is actually worse than


    Any additional comments?

    If possible, can I transport back in time and get the wasted 6 hours of my life back? Let me know if that's possible.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Selene Blainville, Quebec, Canada 01-26-10
    Selene Blainville, Quebec, Canada 01-26-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Snore-fest..."

    Basically, if you care about the history of Mormonism, read it. If details, names and long winded stories bore the heck out of you, skip it.
    It is seemingly alluring because it starts off with details about a gruesome crime committed in the name of Mormonism, but is essentially a history book.
    And really, who cares?

    2 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Waterbury, CT, USA 04-21-09
    Karen Waterbury, CT, USA 04-21-09 Member Since 2006
    ratings
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    6
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    "Eye-opening and engrossing"

    This book will open your eyes to the dangers of fanatical belief systems. Interesting interweaving of Mormon history with a modern-day tragedy. You may never go back to church... ANY church.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James A Charleston, WV, USA 10-18-08
    James A Charleston, WV, USA 10-18-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Scary People"

    John Krakauer has done a great job of researching and exposing a cult that is insidiously growing in our midst, in the guise of a religion.

    Religion?

    This is nothing more than an American subculture, with very rigid social rules and a theistic monarchy, that wants to take over America, no different than any other invader. It's an inside job. Very scary.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jessica Kayenta, AZ, USA 10-03-08
    Jessica Kayenta, AZ, USA 10-03-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Informative and facinating"

    I knew nothing about mormons when I moved to Arizona. I love how K gives the historical background in story format so even non-history buffs can enjoy. This is a good start for those curious about the faith albeit a bit slanted.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • iris
    Paris, France
    6/19/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating Read"

    I really enjoyed this book as the author discussses the origins of the Mormons and explains many facts about this faith that I for one was ignorant of. The story ostensibly is about a particularly brutal murder perpetrated by a break-away Saint on his own brother's wife and child. This serves as a lead in to a book which is so much more than a 'true-crime' novel. I also liked the fact that the author although critical of the fundamental Mormons and their practice of polygamy he does not have any particular axe to grind against the Mormons and he gives a balanced and objective examination of this very American phenomenon. The crime took place around the start of the present century so some things may be dated but the more general discussion is still pertinent. I thought the narrator did a very good job. My only reproach is that the book seemd slightly disorganised and jumped around from subject to subject but it did not impair my enjoyment of the book as a whole.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • PETER
    LONDON, United Kingdom
    8/15/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "History religion and violence"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend this book. It is a very interesting discussion of relationship between religion and violence. It particularly focuses on Mormonism, which was very interesting as it not a religion I knew much of.


    What did you like best about this story?

    There were two things I really enjoyed while listening to this book. Firstly, that while it is critical of organised religion, the author brings objectivity to the book. It is not a god delusion type polemic, but rather a discussion how certain types of rationalisations can lead people to set aside their concepts of right and wrong and do heinous acts without the slightest sense of guilt.

    Secondly, I really enjoyed listening to the history of the Mormon church. It is fast becoming one of the major religions in the world, but it is rare in so far as that it's entire history is documented.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • sonia
    Manor Park, United Kingdom
    9/19/12
    Overall
    "Took too long to get to the point."

    Don't get me wrong it was interesting but far too much background and history for what was essentially a tale of a horrific murder of a wife and child due to the beliefs of a religious zealot of a brother in law who appears to have no remorse for his crime. I stuck with it in the hope it would speed along but it didn't. I found myself drifting and losing interest in some parts and just when i'm about to put it down it became interesting before drifting off again. I did find myself fast forwarding it just to get to the end. I haven't listened to it since. Maybe I should have bought the abridged version it may have kept my attention more

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Joseph
    Birmingham, West Midlands, United Kingdom
    6/1/07
    Overall
    "A slow start but ultimately riveting"

    A work of genius. Current events and issues cleverly interwoven with their historical context, and yet the story stays an interesting pleasure to follow. It also leaves some very serious questions to be answered about the whole idea of ?Religious Freedom? and a few people who see it as a perfect vehicle to behave in horrific ways. A good read and sadly I fear a One Off.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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