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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

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  •  
    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
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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
  •  
    E. L. Robertson Southern California 02-09-06
    E. L. Robertson Southern California 02-09-06 Member Since 2007

    TourOnly

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    "Really Bad"

    This is a really bad book. The history of the Mormons is interesting, but the author bored me to tears with his incredibly long history lesson. Boring!!!!!!!!!!!!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heidi Redmond, WA, USA 02-19-04
    Heidi Redmond, WA, USA 02-19-04
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    "Very Enlightening"

    This is a book that will enlighten anyone on the Mormon religon if you really want to know the hard truth. It was thoroughly researched and wonderfully read by Scott Brick. I have followed the controversy regarding the pen of this book and the rebuttle from the Church of LDS. You judge for yourself, as for me, Jon Krakauer did a stellar job of being fair, factual and honest. As for the The LDS Church, it is in denial.

    2 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RaisinNut PA, USA 10-08-12
    RaisinNut PA, USA 10-08-12 Member Since 2011

    Making the world better one review at a time.

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    "Begins to lose all credibility..."

    Jon Krakauer, who is known for his tales of man vs. wild, is cast out of type as the writer of Under the Banner of Heaven. One cannot help but question his motivation for writing this book. His discussion of Mormons paints the entire lot to be greedy, self-serving and cruel. It is so extreme that at times it's almost unbearable to listen to - like when Krakauer discusses young girls becoming brides to grown men. Indeed, it is so extreme as to become incredible - meaning it begins to lose all credibility whatsoever. Did Jon Krakauer get hurt by the Mormons? Seriously, what is his beef with them?

    There are some redeeming qualities to this book. Learning about the formation and history of Mormonism is fascinating. Some of the stories that this homegrown American faith is built on are unbelievable - literally! But still, Krakauer, give them a break!

    If you are interested in religious thought and philosophy you may enjoy this book; but take it for what it is - a biased retelling of a history that does not belong to the author.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ce Sea 06-22-09
    Ce Sea 06-22-09 Member Since 2014
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    "Shocking"

    Every religion has their own fanactic and I do not believe all Mormans are like this book describes.

    1 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jessica 04-08-08
    Jessica 04-08-08
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    "Religious violence"

    This book is a combination of history of the LDS religion combined with violence associated with its founding and survival. Along the way, the writer tosses in a contemporary murder. There are many jumps in time and place, and at times it can be annoying. Religious violence serves as a backdrop to the contemporary murder, and history places it in context.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    George 04-06-04
    George 04-06-04 Member Since 2003
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    "Mormons? Please"

    It seems that most of the reviewers confuse Mormon fundamentalists with Latter Day Saints. That's like comparing any modern protestant church or sect to the Catholic Church, which Martin Luther split-off from centuries ago. Get real. If you want to talk about the LDS church, try reading about it, not some wacky splinter group.

    14 of 59 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JWW 08-29-05
    JWW 08-29-05
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    "Under the Banner of Heaven"

    This is the most disturbing book I have read in a very long time.
    When Elizabeth Smart was found and the circumstances of her capture revealed, I was not surprised at all. Any child brought up under her conditions would probably have capitulated just as she did.
    The Mormon faith is not a religion...it is a cult...fundamentalist and main stream Mormonism both. So, the next time those "nice" Mormon boys come to my door, I am prepared.
    To think this is the fastest growing cult in the world is indeed frightening.

    3 of 15 people found this review helpful
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    T. Hilden United States 08-24-04
    T. Hilden United States 08-24-04 Member Since 2003
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    "Under the Banner of Heaven"

    Chilling!

    1 of 7 people found this review helpful
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