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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.

Critic Reviews

"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

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    1,719
  • 4 Stars
    1,111
  • 3 Stars
    424
  • 2 Stars
    96
  • 1 Stars
    87

Performance

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    1,235
  • 4 Stars
    707
  • 3 Stars
    208
  • 2 Stars
    48
  • 1 Stars
    31

Story

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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  • 4 Stars
    639
  • 3 Stars
    259
  • 2 Stars
    65
  • 1 Stars
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  • Overall
  • Performance
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Buy this NOW!!!!

Where does Under the Banner of Heaven rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This book in general ranks high since I have read the book twice and now have listened to it once and getting ready to listen to the book again.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

Showing the reality of how some devalue humanity.

Did Scott Brick do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

Yes

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Awesome book

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

I found the history of the Mormon Church fascinating

What does Scott Brick bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Love having a book read to me.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Broken faith

Any additional comments?

I give it 4 popcorns:)

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  • Robert
  • American Fork, UT, United States
  • 01-11-14

Needs Better Research

Would you try another book from Jon Krakauer and/or Scott Brick?

Absolutely not. Not only did I find Krakauer got the majority of his facts completely wrong, he intentionally twisted details in order to make a more explosive book.

What was most disappointing about Jon Krakauer’s story?

I thought I was going to get a well researched and thought out book. Instead, I found Krakauer's main expert providing him facts for the book is a convicted killer and known crazy. I now question all of his previous works.

How could the performance have been better?

I hate this book and the reader made it way worse

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment and a lot of it

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
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Disturbing...

Would you listen to Under the Banner of Heaven again? Why?

Yes, even though it delved deeply into a cult that is blindly accepted by society it was an eye opener.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The history leading up to the murder.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The entire book was compelling

Any additional comments?

The follow on book by Krakauer is just as telling.

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  • Daryl
  • Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • 04-29-13

The bloody truth of Mormonism

What did you love best about Under the Banner of Heaven?

I enjoyed this book immensely. While it does present an anti-religion bias in general (and an anti-Mormon bias in particular), it did not decrease my enjoyment of this well-researched tome. It is impossible to separate the violence of the murder of Brenda Laferty by fundamentalist Mormons from the violent history of the LDS church from its inception. It is well-documented, but by no means dry, and is well-worth the read.

Any additional comments?

I have wanted to read this book in audio for years, and it did not disappoint. The research, coupled with the human aspects of both the Brenda Laferty case and the polygamous Mormon sects throughout the western world, made it a compelling read.

Scott Brick's narration is well-done here, if a little clunky in pronunciation at times. He is neither overly-dramatic nor flat in tone, and was a great choice for narrator of this excellent book.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
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Not what I expected, but even better.

Would you consider the audio edition of Under the Banner of Heaven to be better than the print version?

I cannot compare. I have only had the audiobook.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

It was in trying to explain the connection between religious beliefs and the drive to commit murder. This matter held my interest, as I kept trying and trying to digest the connection, which is so alien to me. I believe all of the great religions of the world foster life in general, they do not foster killing. But some people do not understand their religion that way.

Which scene was your favorite?

The memorable scenes are not anything I want to describe, it is better to let the author do it. They are not uplifting.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

God told me to do it.

Any additional comments?

I expected this book to be true-crime, through and through. So at first I was a bit peeved that the story veered what seemed like off-track, into the entire history of the Mormon faith. I was already familiar with that, but I did learn stuff I didnt know about it. For awhile, right after the attention-getting first few pages about a murder, I was quite frustrated to be taken deep into a history lesson of the origins and history of the Mormon church. It seemed to take a long time to get back to the story that happened very recently.

However, a bit further into the book, I realized it hadnt been that long of a diversion, the true-crime story returned and was done quite well, all in all. It was a LITTLE choppy, as the story jerked back and forth in time, I do not like it when authors take that approach. But not a real problem.

Just so you know, with this book you are getting two things, not just the crime story, but the quite involved, entire history of Mormonism, a religion which is only less than 200 years old. This was rather off-putting to me at the beginning, after having just read the teaser part where the killings were done. But I think it is important information to have as you take in the story.

All in all an excellent read. Maybe I am being too nit-picky...

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Definitely worth a listen

Krakauer is one of my favorite non-fiction writers so I didn't even bother to read the reviews or summary of this book, I don't regret my purchase in the least. I found his chronicle of the Mormon faith to be fascinating, frustrating and thought provoking all at once.

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  • Martha
  • Sherman, TX, United States
  • 09-03-12

Satisfy your curiosity about LDS & Mormons

Would you listen to Under the Banner of Heaven again? Why?

A well-known writer and researcher takes an historical look at the Mormon LDS faith...and connects the "beliefs" and "thinking" to modern day. Still hard to understand why it appeals to many unless they were raised in it and never questioned it.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The gruesome murder of a mother and child in the name of Fundamentalist LDS belief.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It made a cross-country car ride go by much more quickly.

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this book put me to sleep

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

some action

What was most disappointing about Jon Krakauer’s story?

all it talked about was religion and wives

Would you be willing to try another one of Scott Brick’s performances?

maybe

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

sleepiness

Any additional comments?

this should not be under "true crime"

  • Overall
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Is religion a force for good or evil?

Intertwines the history of Mormonism with the story of a gruesome double murder of a young mother and her baby, with side trips to explore related crimes from the recent and more distant past. The author raises questions about whether such crimes are the result of madness, religion gone awry, or simply an extension of normal religious mentality. Reader Scott Brick does a great job holding the listener's attention with an intense and somewhat creepy reading style. The complexity of the interwoven stories makes the audio version a little difficult to follow at times.