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)
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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