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 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, 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)
One wonders if Mr. Krakauer did any research from actual historical documents and newspapers or if he relied entirely on secondhand accounts, in this unfortunately error-laden book.
Even on the story that is the focus of the book, he fails to get the town the murders took place in instead placing them nearly 50 miles away. That is only one of many many factual errors, and if he is that sloppy and or misinformed about the murder case that is his centerpiece how many more lapses may be found with serious research.
While the premise sounds interesting, he fails to support his thesis. By using highly unusual cases of people who are on the fringe of their religious communities, Krakauer completely undercuts his argument that religion causes this kind of violence. The people that are highlighted would be just as likely to wreak violence in an athiest community as a devoutly religious one. In fact, by their very acts they reject the religious communities that they nominally do come from.
I wanted to like this book as I have enjoyed other of Krakauers work but I was unable to find much that was redeeming. Unless you simply want to believe that religion causes violence I suggest you look elsewhere, this book certainly won't change any minds.
This is a hard book to rate. Krakauer is a good writer. I think most people will find this book is both interesting and entertaining. However he had to stetch things quite a bit to support his basic thesis by using source material that seems to lack credibility.
If you want to know something about mormon history, this account is neither factually accurate nor balanced, so you'll want to look elsewhere for that.
I love to learn and share whatever excellence I discover in the process
Laffertys were excommunicated from the Mormon Church before their horrific crimes were committed. Calling Lafferty a "Fundamentalist Mormon" is like calling Charles Manson a "Fundamentalist Catholic" or a "Born-Again Baptist." Hmmmm, why is it those labels are never used to described psychopathic murderers who used to go to Sunday School when they were growing up? To sell books by smearing an entire religious people through sensationalistic half-truths and misleading or misinformed story-telling is ludicrous at best and ugly biogtry at worst. Hatred and prejudice are alive and well. This book just proves it and fuels it.
A very disappointing book. I absolutely loved "Into thin Air". This time however, I quickly got annoyed by the monotonous voice of the speaker and the jumping from topic to topic. I cannot recommend this book at all.
ANY ONE WHO RATES THIS BOOK LESS THAN FOUR STARS IS A MORMON. ANYONE WHO GIVES IT FIVE STARS IS, AT THE VERY LEAST. AN AGNOSTIC AND PROBABLY AN ATHIEST. THE WRITER COULD HAVE PICKED ANY OF THE HUNDREDS OF RELIGIONS PRACTICED IN THIS COUNTRY AND THEY WOULD ALL SOUND AS SILLY AS THIS ONE. CALVIN AND THE METHODIST, CAMPBEL AND THE CHURCH OF CHRIST. JIM JONES AND COOLAID,FATHER DIVINE,DAVID KORESH, JIM BAAKER. ALL CUT FROM THE SAME CLOTH. ALL UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN. THE MORMON CHURCH IS THE FASTEST GROWING OF THEM ALL, THAT IS A SOBERING THOUGHT. HIGHLY RECOMENDED READING TO ADD TO YOUR DATA BASE ON RELIGON
How can a person who admits to being "nearly atheistic" become an authority on a specific church and, indeed, on whether people who believe in God are even right to believe in God? He tries to couch his disdain for religion in "exposing the underbelly" of a religion that I have found to be quite "normal" and far from intrusive. His sensationalism for describing the horrible acts of these two brothers may be accurate, but his willingness to associate freaks with the mainstream body of this church is irresponsible. I heard a NPR interview with the author and found myself becoming angry with his hipocrisy. One moment he was a detached, yet educated scholar. The next, he was criticizing a religion and people he really does not understand. It is a disappointment that this book has become a big seller....but sensationalism sells books, I guess.
This book completely misses the mark. It seems the only way the author could claim some legitimacy to his novel is to loosely associate it with Mormonism. Writing a book about polygamy is fine, there are thousands of them already penned, however, the only ones that get any publicity try to link the practice with Mormons. The fact is that polygamy is against the law in the US and has been banned by the Mormon church since Utah became part of the union.
Pass on this book, don't waste your time.
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