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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

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  •  
    Shelley Olson 04-27-05 Member Since 2017
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    "Terrific and Timely"

    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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Oveson Louisville, Colorado 09-14-05
    Mark Oveson Louisville, Colorado 09-14-05 Member Since 2010
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    "A master storyteller tells us . . . a master story"

    Jon Krakauer is like my mother-in-law. Both are engaging storytellers with a gift for keeping the listener riveted on the subject, even if we are already familiar with it. But like my mother-in-law, Krakauer is not above coloring the facts to make them fit the story he wants to tell.

    I'm a practicing Mormon with an interest in the history of the Church. I am aware that the Church is imperfect and that current Church leadership tends to gloss over less desirable points of its history.

    Krakauer has a fascinating story to tell in the Lafferty murders. But he tries too hard to reconcile the Laffertys, modern Mormon fundamentalism and religious extremism generally with early Church history and the mainstream Mormon church. To make the story fit, he uses exaggeration (such as the "unconditional obedience" supposedly demanded of modern latter-day Saints), patently untrue generalizations (e.g., the statement that "most Mormons" will eventually travel to New York for the Hill Cumorah Pageant), and silly anecdotes apparently fabricated from whole cloth (like the bizzare allegation that "Mormons the world over" have committed 5:16 p.m., the time of Joseph Smith's death, to memory). Similarly amusing is his claim that Mormons refer to non-Mormons as "gentiles," a word that passed out of favor among mainstream Mormons 40 years ago and that is literally never heard in the modern church.

    Most disturbing is Krakauer's willingness to present his hypotheses about historical controversies as truth. He even attributes feelings and motivations manufactured by him to figures such as Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, apparently to help the story flow.

    The narration is bad. ApPROXimately EVery THIRD SYLLable is EMPHasized.

    The book is enjoyable despite its faults. I don't recommend against it, but do take it with a grain of salt. This is not a history, but a historical miniseries in print. The story is great, but the truth remains firmly in second place.

    34 of 42 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K Cornwinkle 12-11-12 Member Since 2015

    !!!

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    "Narration emphasizes EVERYTHING"

    like a breathless tabloid TV show. At one relatively unimportant point he says, "A MILLION dollars" and all I could think of was Dr. Evil in Austin Powers. I could not finish the book. Maybe I'll read it in print but my impressions is that Krakauer too amps everything up unecessarily - the story and the history of the Church and these offshoots is interesting (and bizarre and ugly) without selective information, hyperbole or reader-dragging.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julie trumbull, CT, USA 07-18-07
    Julie trumbull, CT, USA 07-18-07
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    "not Krakauer's best work by a long shot"

    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.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tom Springboro, OH, USA 01-08-04
    Tom Springboro, OH, USA 01-08-04
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    "Powerful story and well read by the author"

    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!

    43 of 56 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonnie Panama City, FL, United States 09-20-09
    Jonnie Panama City, FL, United States 09-20-09 Member Since 2014
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    "Krakauer is great...another winner"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark R. Hassed Melbourne, Australia 08-22-06
    Mark R. Hassed Melbourne, Australia 08-22-06 Member Since 2012

    Deep Thinker

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    "Fascinating & eye opening"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Pelham, NY, USA 02-19-05
    John Pelham, NY, USA 02-19-05
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    "Timely and relevant"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Labidi Los Angeles 08-04-11
    K. Labidi Los Angeles 08-04-11 Member Since 2015

    poemlover

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    "terrible narration"

    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.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    TamGar 04-27-09
    TamGar 04-27-09

    T

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    "All Mormons should read"

    This book reveals history and concealed truths about the Mormon faith (LDS). All this history can be researched by anyone through archived newsprint and published material since 1870. Krakauer has compiled a lot of it in this book. He reveals a lot about the fundamentalists of the LDS church (FLDS). How they have branched off from Mormonism and why they have such astonishing beliefs. He gives insights as to why there are so many of these fundamentalist groups that still practice plural marriage. He discusses and quotes from the Lafferty brothers who committed murder according to their faith. The author gives accounts of the many controversies surrounding the early LDS church and the Utah pioneers and settlers. How historically proven truths that have been revealed have been hidden and concealed from church members by LDS church leaders. Not a book for the faint hearted for it is very descriptive about the Lafferty murders and the Mountain Meadows Massacre. The author does point out that Mormonism has gained popularity among over 10,000 religious sects in the world despite all the controversy. Quote from Krakauer "All humans ache to feel love from our creator"

    8 of 11 people found this review helpful
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  • Miss K L Mugridge
    12/28/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not for me"

    It became a bit of a chore to listen to and I didn't complete the book in the end. I have learnt more about Mormons than I ever thought I would, but as I'd primarily downloaded the story for the true crime aspect, the book was not for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • iris
    Paris, France
    6/19/14
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    "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
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    "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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