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.
"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)
This Audiobook sold me on the idea of "reading" by listening. I can remember where I was when I heard each section of the book. In fact, I have to admit that I missed part of the sites on a European vacation becuase I was lost in this story. It is well read, and well written. With the heat being turned up on the British Columbian community of Bountiful mentioned in this book, it is a great way to gather insights into the fundamentalist spin off of the Mormon Church that neither resemble the present day Saints, nor the average families you would expect to encounter today!! It is very interesting indeed.
I like a really good novel or literature for relaxation and escape. But real life stories like this are far more interesting. Everyone looking for truth in religion should read this book. The details about the short history of such a popular and fast-growing sect are fascinating, and you find yourself wondering how anyone can buy into the beliefs of the LDS faith, and questioning the basis of any religion, for that matter. The blood-curdling description of the murders done in the name of God are gripping. The long history of child-rape, incest, and brutality is incredible. The description in the killer's own words of the murder of a helpless child were almost more than I could take. I chose this book because Scott Brick is my favorite narrarator. It will be on my list of favorites for a very long time.
I love John Krakauer. I got much more than anticipated in this book. It was a true crime thriller interwoven with Mormon culture and history. I loved it and would listen to it again.
While I am a big fan of Krakauer's earlier works, Under the Banner of Heaven leaves a lot to be desired. I don't think that his weaving of two genres ("true crime" and history)works well here. Taken separately, a history of the Church of LDS and its offshoots, and the true crime story are both very interesting, but the constant weaving back and forth makes it just confusing, at least in audio format.
There were many times that I got lost in the narrative, particularly in the parts about about other Mormon fundamenalists (who have no relevance to the story of the Lafferty brothers). And there were other parts of the Lafferty story that he didn't explore at all -- for example, what happened to Allen after the murders? How did he react, does he still speak with his brothers, etc., etc.? There is much about Ron's ongoing trials, but very little about Dan's trial. I couldn't for the life of me remember why Dan did not get the death penalty, until after I was done listening, I went online and found an excerpt of the book's prologue, where it mentions one or two lines about Dan's trial.
The narration was fine, and the content had the potential to make an excellent book, but sadly this one falls short.
I have listened to a lot of audio books and this is one of the very best -- fascinating start to finish.
The story of the grisly muders is very well told without being macabre and totally holds your interest.
Woven through this is the intriguing history of the Morman Church and details of some of the bizarre sects that have spun off it. The book gives an in depth insight to what is becoming one of the world's major religions.
I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook.
Regardless of your politics or your religious persuasion, carefully listening to this book can't help but make a thoughtful, introspective person question their beliefs. Being raised strictly Catholic, now a confirmed athiest, and a registered Republican who doesn't much care for George W. Bush, I found it informative and provacatory. I could see how this book could be downright blasmephous for some people, and not indignant enough for others. The author does a great job of illuminating a subculture that isn't easy to penetrate, and expanding on its ideas as they apply to all organized relgions around the world. It makes some moral value judgements, but one has to if their work is to have any impact. I think the world would be a better place right now if more people read (and most importantly, thought about) the author's theses.
I tend to like audiobooks that are read by the author. You get the emotion in the places that the book meant to relay them. This story has a very powerful message. Although the book most certainly focuses on the Mormon religion, the author makes it clear that his intent is to discuss "Faith" in general. But, with so many different religions in the world and all having their own set of rules which require unabashed faith in order to be truly religious, the author had to pick one religion to get his point across. So he picked the one that he was most familiar with as well as one that was news worthy. The tale he tells of the murder of a mother and her 15 month old daughter, by her brother-in-laws no less, is at times gruesome, but always interesting. As far as I can tell, I'm not of the Mormon religion, the history of the Mormon church is detailed very nicely in this book. From it's founding in the 1800's by Joseph Smith, to the state it is in today, he details the trials and tribulations that have transpired in order for this, 2nd fastest growing religion in the world, to survive. I listened to this book from begining to end in one sitting. If you like murder mysteries based on fact, this book is for you. If you like books on spirituality, this book is for you. If you like history, this book might be a good listen for you. Give it a shot, you may be surprised at what you learn!
I love Krakauer's writing but find the narration of this book so irritating that I have to stop listening (and ask for a refund). Scott Brick's unnecessarily animated/actorish/dramatic reading really distracts one from the quality of the writing and story. I've heard Krakauer interviewed and think he'd be a great reader of his own books. I won't get another book narrated by Scott Brick - he is completely lacking in subtlety. Too bad, I was so looking forward to listening to this.
One master-passion in the br east, like Aaron's serpent, swallows all the rest. A. Pope
A razor-edged examination of fanaticism in religion, focused primarily on the Mormon Church and its fundamentalist offshoot sect that continues to adhere to the norms the Church was forced by the federal government to abandon over a century ago: specifically, the practices of polygamy and the marriage of pubescent females.
Concentrating on the true story of the 1980s murders of a woman and her infant daughter, Jon Krakauer immerses the reader in a timeline that appears to establish that the violence of some of today's Mormon fundamentalists can be traced back to the Church's origins after its leaders were banished by Eastern U.S.' post-Victorian society for polygamy and early marriages. Mr. Krakauer's poetic fire seems aimed at: 1) the flimsy nature of the societal line between a man--this seems primarily limited to men--being deemed a lunatic and seen as a religious prophet, when he says, "God told me [to do this] [I must sow my seed] [we must travel West] [I must impregnate your lovely daughter]", and 2) how the Church leaders' nearly-ubiquitous practice, shortly after Joseph Smith's death, of prefacing nearly every decision or action with "God spoke to me" could have precipitated today's fundamentalist leaders' justifying criminal conduct by saying God told him to ignore the laws, and further, might have ultimately contributed to a fringe fanatic, whose black heart overflowed with resentment and revenge, perpetrating homicidal retribution by reading his demoniac thoughts as God's statement of divine will.
A bit overlong, yet overall intriguing and incisively iconoclastic.
I am brutally honest. Popular, love everything they read, reviewers are scared to go neg. and risk their ranking. It's your money!!!
I first read this in 2003 after it first came out. I talked about it so much, that my wife asked to listen to it. Writing about religion has got to be one of the hardest things to do without upsetting someone. Krakauer does occasionally call the Mormon religion, strange or something similar. You would think a good editor would have omitted that. I also had to keep in mind that most religions can be easily made to look strange. I remember teaching a middle school class at my Methodist Church and talking about the Resurrection, when one of the kids, said "Yuck,Jesus was a Zombie". Than of course the sacrament, where we supposedly eat of Jesus's body and drink his blood.
That Being Said
I have always been one to let people do as they want as long as they don't hurt others. That is were the break apart Fundamentalist's of this religion become a problem. Here in America, girls as young as twelve are being raped and made pregnant. Women are beaten and abused. Freedom of religion is one thing, freedom to rape and abuse children must be stopped. Sam Brower has written a follow up book called Prophet's Prey, which is even more revealing and discusses the abandoning of little boys, so as to have more girls to rape.
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.
"History religion and violence"
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.
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.
"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
"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.
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