Under the Banner of Heaven

Under the Banner of Heaven

A Story of Violent Faith

Book - 2003
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Jon Krakauer's literary reputation rests on insightful chronicles of lives conducted at the outer limits. In UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN, he shifts his focus from extremes of physical adventure to extremes of religious belief within our own borders. At the core of his 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.
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, 2003
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780385509510
0385509510
Branch Call Number: 289.33 KRA 2003 21
Characteristics: xxiii, 372 p. : maps (some col.)

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s
SprinkelReads
Jul 04, 2018

One of the finest true crime--if not nonfiction--books ever written, period.

r
ryner
Jun 14, 2018

Ostensibly an account of a 1984 grisly murder in a Utah community, by alternating chapters of the present with those of the past Krakauer also provides a detailed history of the Mormon faith and its connection to the crime.

This book is simultaneously educational and horrifying. My heart breaks for the FLDS women, whose sole value in life and in their communities is as reproductive chattel. It also caused me to wonder any number of times throughout the text how anyone practicing religion can describe the more outlandish tenets and history of their faith with a straight face.

These two unrelated quotes in particular are worth mulling over:
"Although the prophecy of this father, Uncle Rulon, that the world would be swept clean in a hurricane of fire by the year 2000 did not come to pass, the events of September 11, 2001, have renewed Warren's [Jeffs] optimism."

"I remember wondering about contradictions between what the religion taught and scientific truth. But Uncle Roy told us that the way to handle that was just to avoid asking certain kinds of questions. So I trained myself to ignore the contradictions."

1
1tarheel
Apr 23, 2018

Yikes.

mko123 Apr 05, 2018

If you liked Education, by Tamara Westover, read this for a deeper understanding of religious fanaticism. The modern day fanatics in this book demand absolute obedience from their followers. Their out-of-control narcissism knows no bounds, even to the point where they are willing to assault their own wives and children. A senseless murder that is at the core of this story. The mystery is not who, but what kind of a twisted thinking and rage could lead to this.

m
mclarjh
Feb 24, 2018

Good journalistic writing, but too long.

CRRL_MegRaymond Feb 21, 2018

Two fundamentalist Mormon brothers claimed that they committed murder under direct orders from God.

s
salgeogal
Aug 01, 2017

Terrifying look into how religion and belief can be twisted and used. In a religious belief system where everyone can and does talk directly to God and God can and does talk back, what happens when one person gets a message from God to kill and another person gets a message from God to not kill? Who's right? Who determines who's right?

I think it says a lot about critical thinking and thinking for oneself. An important lesson in today's world of instant news and no follow up.

JCLBrentW Jul 17, 2017

A gripping tale. Eye-opening background on the Mormon church.

s
swheeler89
Sep 08, 2016

A name intensive book - as usual Krakauer has done his homework and taught the reader loads on a religion that has surpassed Judaism by number of people. If you live in the US, and faith maintains an active role in your life, I would encourage you to read this book. Crazy to see how a US-centric view of God and man caught hold in the second great awakening as Mormonism did.

b
bpatenaude1930
Aug 13, 2016

Provides history of the mormon church set against a backdrop of a gruesome murder. Found this book to be very entertaining and informative. It has opened my eyes to mormonism and the cult that it is...

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elbayless
Jun 05, 2014

elbayless thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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