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)
As an outsider, it's often easy to make assumptions about a religion's morality and values. But looking beyond the inflamatory language that the author resorts to in certain areas of the book (indicating his biases), I found this book to be quite insightful and informative about the history behind the LDS and FLDS faiths, as well as the geographical and logistical aspects of their beliefs/practices. It is very evident that the author has done extensive research for this book, and does a good job providing historical background information to shed light on present practices/situations. From my own protestant christian upbringing, I had a very limited perspective/understanding of the LDS faith, and I think this book helped to clarify many points. I found other areas of the book quite disturbing and struggled to keep in mind that the actions of individuals within a religion do not necessarily reflect the morals of the whole. Written as a scholarly approach toward something like religion (which is ultimately "irrationally" based), I think the author does a pretty good job trying to be informative rather than judgemental. The one downfall of the audiobook is that it does not include the bibliography, footnotes, and appendecis that are contained in the hard-copy. Included in these was a letter from the head of the LDS with their assessment of the book, and a then a counter response from the author with clarifications/corrections and closing arguments.
This book is written as a historical account of how the mormon chuch came about. It explains how the American government interfered in mormon ideals. The clash caused a split in the base of mormon faith and the result was mormon fundamentalism. Persecuted by non-believers(gentiles) across the United States to Utah, Brigham Young encouraged the fundamentalist faction in secret from members opposed to extremist ideas after Joseph Smith was murdered for his outspoken conviction. The Lafferty brothers were fundamentalists. This book tries to clarify the reasoning behing the murders by exposing the psychology behind this fervent faith.
I can understand how mormon church members will be outraged by this title, even though Jon Krakauer's references and documentation of history are unarguable. I learned a lot from this book and grew up quite familiar with the LDS church. The fundamentalist mormon is uncommon and a minority when compared to the membership of the general church. They are not recognized as true members by those who practice present-day guidelines.
Krakauer ties history in well with personal interviews and contemporary news of the murder of Brenda Lafferty and her baby and the kidnapping account of Elizabeth Smart in Salt Lake City. He gives good insight into the mind of someone who's ideals are utterly possessed or controlled by certainty of doctrine. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in historical or religious fact.
Some reviewers have taken offense to 'The Banner' likely because of their religious views, but if this book had used similar examples from Islam I doubt the same people would have complained. Although it does have a wealth of material about the history of Mormonism and its offspring, the book is not about 'Mormonism' per se. Any unbiased reader will clearly understand it is a book about the dangers of absolute religious fundamentalism in a general sense, no matter the religion. Although most Mormons and Muslims and Jews and Catholics, etc., are fine people, there are questions to be answered regarding the actions of some Semetic descendants who use relgion to suit their own sadistic purposes. The Banner is a psychological and historical study of religion as a whole and it is hard to imagine how anything more than that could be read into it.
I loved this book, both the story and narration. Scott Brick is a very relaxed reader, and doesn't try too hard to pull off voices.
I can understand why some would be offended by this book, and as a Christian there were some statements about religious people in general that bothered me. However, this book made me think, and is clearly not about mainstream mormons, but rather fundamentalists. The author isn't even "against" only mormon fundamentalists, but fundamentalists of all kinds.
This is well worth a listen
I have this strange interest in the Mormon Faith. I was raised Christian and my mind boggles at how different the beliefs are from what I was taught. I have moved away from my religion as I've grown older and love to read about the other denominations of the Christian Faith that I wasn't exposed to. The writing and reading was just top notch with this one. I would recommend it to anyone. My fiance doesn't like listening to audiobooks so I bought her a hardcopy just so she would read it too. I am definitely going to look into other Krakauer books and anything read by Scott Brick.
This is a marvelously complex and fascinating book. On the surface it's a history of Mormon fundamentalism, which frankly isn't a topic that's important to most people. But the fascinating history of the Mormon Church is intensely interesting, especially as it reflects the political and social changes of the 19th and 20th centuries. Beyond history, the book addresses some of the basic issues in understanding religious fundamentalism in a pluralistic and supposedly tolerant society.
I came away from this book with a lot of respect for the mainstream LDS church and the suffering of its pioneers and prophets. But the book also forces one to look into the face of the evil deeds that human beings who feel beleaguered and justified by a vengeful God will do to their fellow humans. Because we live in a world now where religious fundamentalism threatens our very existence, it's useful to confront these issues broadly.
The book is also very well read by Krakauer. I was very sorry when it ended. Even though I listened to the unabridged edition, I wanted it to be longer.
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"
I found Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven chilling and revealing, with an excellent attention to staying close to fact. While it is entertaining, it also confronts the issues of faith and belief, showing how detached from reason these concepts can become when people lean far towared fundamentalist belief systems without questioning that system with a modicum of logic. My best since Tracy Kidder's Mountain Beyond Mountains.
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 read this book. While it was not as enthralling as 'Into Thin Air' or 'Into the Wild' I found it to be a good book nonetheless. Krakauer devoted most of the book to the history of mormonism and (mormon) fundamentalism. As was the case in 'Into the Wild', the author seems to be interested in extremes in psychology and especially the border between eccentric behavior -such as positive human traits carried to negative extremes- and psychopathology. I felt I understood the psychology of the murders better at the end, which was the goal of the book. Considering the nature of the crime they committed, it was no small achievement for Krakauer to explain these brothers' thinking to his audience. I look forward to Krakauer's next book. A word of warning: this is not bedtime reading/listening. It is very disturbing. Therefore, I reccomend that you listen to it in the car rather than read it in bed. That said, I am glad I read it, and I hope it will be worth your while too.
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