Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith PDF AZW3 EPUB MOBI TXT Download

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of Into the Wild and Into Thin Air, this extraordinary work of investigative journalism takes readers inside America’s isolated Mormon Fundamentalist communities. Now an FX limited series streaming on HULU.“Fantastic…. Right up there with In Cold Blood and The Executioner’s Song.” —San Francisco ChronicleDefying both civil authorities and the Mormon establishment in Salt Lake City, the renegade leaders of these Taliban-like theocracies are zealots who answer only to God; some 40,000 people still practice polygamy in these communities.  At the core of Krakauer’s book are brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty, who insist they received a commandment from God to kill a blameless woman and her baby girl. Beginning with a meticulously researched account of this appalling double murder, Krakauer constructs a multi-layered, bone-chilling narrative of messianic delusion, polygamy, savage violence, 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.

Jon Krakauer
June 8, 2004
432 pages

File Size: 27 MB
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“Scrupulously reported and written with Krakauer’s usual exacting flair, Under the Banner of Heaven is both illuminating and thrilling. It is also the creepiest book anyone has written in a long time—and that’s meant as the highest possible praise.” —Newsweek“Fantastic. . . . Right up there with In Cold Blood and The Executioner’s Song.” —San Francisco Chronicle “Powerfully illuminating. . . . Almost every section of the book is fascinating in its own right, and together the chapters make a rich picture. . . . An arresting portrait of depravity.” —The New York Times Book Review “This year’s most audacious work of nonfiction. . . . A white-knuckle mix of true-crime reporting and provocative history.” —New York Post “Krakauer writes with almost astonishing narrative force. It is hard to stop reading.” —The Baltimore Sun “Stunningly researched. . . . Elegant reportage. . . . An evenhanded inquiry into the nature of religious belief itself.” —Newsday “Captivating. . . . Fascinating and appalling. . . . [Krakauer] should be applauded—and read.” —The San Diego Union-Tribune “A great book. . . . Krakauer has found a fascinating story in plain sight, right in the heart of the American West, and told it with the narrative drive and unflinching honesty that marked his 1998 best seller, Into Thin Air.” —The Oregonian “Jon Krakauer is at his provocative best.” —The New Orleans Times-Picayune “A fascinating page-turner. . . . Engrossing. . . . Krakauer’s knack for crackling narrative and taut focus . . . drives this thought-provoking story.” —The Columbus Dispatch “A hair-raising true-crimer.” —Chicago Sun-Times “Terrifying. . . . Startling. . . . Mov[es] deftly between past and present [and] provides a fascinating glimpse of the church today.” —The Atlanta Journal-Constitution “A powerful portrait of how two seemingly ordinary Americans became murderers.” —The Economist “Illuminating . . . provocative. . . . Krakauer is an adept chronicler of extremists [and] the tour guide of choice for secular quests.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review “Marvelous. . . . A departure from Into Thin Air and Into the Wild . . . but every bit as engrossing.” —Entertainment Weekly “Well-researched and evenhanded. . . . Thought-provoking.” —USA Today “Startling. . . . Timely. . . . Krakauer uncovers a ghastly trail of forced marriage, polygamy, violence and mind control. . . . A chilling look at Mormon fundamentalism.” —The Charlotte Observer “Horrific, gripping. . . . Soberly written and courageously reported.” —Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel “Engrossing. . . . Incisive. . . . [Krakauer is] a very careful reporter. . . . His clear-headed, unbiased examination of the church—leavened with genuine respect—and his conclusions . . . are hard to argue with.” —Boulder Daily Camera “One hell of a chilling read.” —Maxim “Compelling. . . . Provocative. . . . Illuminating. . . . A gripping tale.” —The Christian Science Monitor “A disturbing picture of Mormon fundamentalists. . . . Krakauer’s straightforward style and excellent storytelling ability make the book interesting.” —Rocky Mountain News “A terrific read.” —Reader’s Digest “Riveting. . . . Intriguing. . . . Breezy, smooth and vigorously written, this ambitious book is entertaining and informative. . . . Krakauer reconstructs the Lafferty brothers’ descent into fatal fanaticism magnificently, interweaving their story throughout the book and giving this wide-ranging work narrative coherence and emotional resonance. . . . [He is] a superb storyteller.” —The News & Observer “A powerful look at how religious belief can cross the line into fanaticism.” —San Jose Mercury News From the Inside Flap 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, andMexico, 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. From the Hardcover edition. From the Back Cover Jon Krakauer’s literary reputation rests on insightful chronicles of lives conducted at the outer limits. He now shifts his focus from extremes of physical adventure to extremes of religious belief within our own borders, taking readers inside isolated American communities where some 40,000 Mormon Fundamentalists still practice polygamy. Defying both civil authorities and the Mormon establishment in Salt Lake City, the renegade leaders of these Taliban-like theocracies are zealots who answer only to God. At the core of Krakauer’s book are brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty, who insist they received a commandment from God to kill a blameless woman and her baby girl. Beginning with a meticulously researched account of this appalling double murder, Krakauer constructs a multi-layered, bone-chilling narrative of messianic delusion, polygamy, savage violence, 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. About the Author Jon Krakauer is the author of eight books and has received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. According to the award citation, “Krakauer combines the tenacity and courage of the finest tradition of investigative journalism with the stylish subtlety and profound insight of the born writer.” www.jonkrakauer.com Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. ONE THE CITY OF THE SAINTS For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth. Deuteronomy 14:2 And it shall come to pass that I, the Lord God, will send one mighty and strong, holding the scepter of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering, whose mouth shall utter words, eternal words; while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth, to set in order the house of God. The Doctrine and Covenants, Section 85 revealed to Joseph Smith on November 27, 1832 Balanced atop the highest spire of the Salt Lake Temple, gleaming in the Utah sun, a statue of the angel Moroni stands watch over downtown Salt Lake City with his golden trumpet raised. This massive granite edifice is the spiritual and temporal nexus of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), which presents itself as the world’s only true religion. Temple Square is to Mormons what the Vatican is to Catholics, or the Kaaba in Mecca is to Muslims. At last count there were more than eleven million Saints the world over, and Mormonism is the fastest-growing faith in the Western Hemisphere. At present in the United States there are more Mormons than Presbyterians or Episcopalians. On the planet as a whole, there are now more Mormons than Jews. Mormonism is considered in some sober academic circles to be well on its way to becoming a major world religion–the first such faith to emerge since Islam. Next door to the temple, the 325 voices of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir swell to fill the tabernacle’s vast interior with the robust, haunting chords of “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” the ensemble’s trademark song: “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord . . .” To much of the world, this choir and its impeccably rendered harmonies are emblematic of the Mormons as a people: chaste, optimistic, outgoing, dutiful. When Dan Lafferty quotes Mormon scripture to justify murder, the juxtaposition is so incongruous as to seem surreal. The affairs of Mormondom are directed by a cadre of elderly white males in dark suits who carry out their holy duties from a twenty-six-story office tower beside Temple Square.* To a man, the LDS leadership adamantly insists that Lafferty should under no circumstances be considered a Mormon. The faith that moved Lafferty to slay his niece and sister-in-law is a brand of religion known as Mormon Fundamentalism; LDS Church authorities bristle visibly when Mormons and Mormon Fundamentalists are even mentioned in the same breath. As Gordon B. Hinckley, the then-eighty-eight-year-old LDS president and prophet, emphasized during a 1998 television interview on Larry King Live, “They have no connection with us whatever. They don’t belong to the church. There are actually no Mormon Fundamentalists.” Nevertheless, Mormons and those who call themselves Mormon Fundamentalists (or FLDS) believe in the same holy texts and the same sacred history. Both believe that Joseph Smith, who founded Mormonism in 1830, played a vital role in God’s plan for mankind; both LDS and FLDS consider him to be a prophet comparable in stature to Moses and Isaiah. Mormons and Mormon Fundamentalists are each convinced that God regards them, and them alone, as his favored children: “a peculiar treasure unto me above all people.” But if both proudly refer to themselves as the Lord’s chosen, they diverge on one especially inflammatory point of religious doctrine: unlike their present-day Mormon compatriots, Mormon Fundamentalists passionately believe that Saints have a divine obligation to take multiple wives. Followers of the FLDS faith engage in polygamy, they explain, as a matter of religious duty. There are more than thirty thousand FLDS polygamists living in Canada, Mexico, and throughout the American West. Some experts estimate there may be as many as one hundred thousand. Even this larger number amounts to less than 1 percent of the membership in the LDS Church worldwide, but all the same, leaders of the mainstream church are extremely discomfited by these legions of polygamous brethren. Mormon authorities treat the fundamentalists as they would a crazy uncle–they try to keep the “polygs” hidden in the attic, safely out of sight, but the fundamentalists always seem to be sneaking out to appear in public at inopportune moments to create unsavory scenes, embarrassing the entire LDS clan. The LDS Church happens to be exceedingly prickly about its short, uncommonly rich history–and no aspect of that history makes the church more defensive than “plural marriage.” The LDS leadership has worked very hard to persuade both the modern church membership and the American public that polygamy was a quaint, long-abandoned idiosyncrasy practiced by a mere handful of nineteenth-century Mormons. The religious literature handed out by the earnest young missionaries in Temple Square makes no mention of the fact that Joseph Smith–still the religion’s focal personage–married at least thirty-three women, and probably as many as forty-eight. Nor does it mention that the youngest of these wives was just fourteen years old when Joseph explained to her that God had commanded that she marry him or face eternal damnation. Polygamy was, in fact, one of the most sacred credos of Joseph’s church–a tenet important enough to be canonized for the ages as Section 132 of The Doctrine and Covenants, one of Mormonism’s primary scriptural texts.* The revered prophet described plural marriage as part of “the most holy and important doctrine ever revealed to man on earth” and taught that a man needed at least three wives to attain the “fulness of exaltation” in the afterlife. He warned that God had explicitly commanded that “all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same . . . and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.” Joseph was murdered in Illinois by a mob of Mormon haters in 1844. Brigham Young assumed leadership of the church and led the Saints to the barren wilds of the Great Basin, where in short order they established a remarkable empire and unabashedly embraced the covenant of “spiritual wifery.” This both titillated and shocked the sensibilities of Victorian-era Americans, who tended to regard polygamy as a brutish practice on a par with slavery. In 1856, recognizing the strength of the anti-polygamy vote, Republican candidate John C. Frémont ran for president on a platform that pledged to “prohibit in the territories those twin relics of barbarism–Polygamy and Slavery.” Frémont lost the election, but a year later the man who did win, President James Buchanan, sent the U.S. Army to invade Utah, dismantle Brigham Young’s theocracy, and eradicate polygamy. The so-called Utah War, however, neither removed Brigham from power nor ended the doctrine of plural marriage, to the annoyance and bafflement of a whole series of American presidents. An escalating sequence of judicial and legislative challenges to polygamy ensued, culminating in the Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887, which disincorporated the LDS Church and forfeited to the federal government all church property worth more than $50,000. With their feet held fast to the fire, the Saints ultimately had no choice but to renounce polygamy. But even as LDS leaders publicly claimed, in 1890, to have relinquished the practice, they quietly dispatched bands of Mormons to establish polygamous colonies in Mexico and Canada, and some of the highest-ranking LDS authorities secretly continued to take multiple wives and perform plural marriages well into the twentieth century. Although LDS leaders were initially loath to abandon plural marriage, eventually they adopted a more pragmatic approach to American politics, emphatically rejected the practice, and actually began urging government agencies to prosecute polygamists. It was this single change in ecclesiastical policy, more than anything else, that transformed the LDS Church into its astonishingly successful present-day iteration. Having jettisoned polygamy, Mormons gradually ceased to be regarded as a crackpot sect. The LDS Church acquired the trappings of a conventional faith so successfully that it is now widely considered to be the quintessential American religion. Mormon Fundamentalists, however, believe that acceptance into the American mainstream came at way too high a price. They contend that the Mormon leaders made an unforgivable compromise by capitulating to the U.S. government on polygamy over a century ago. They insist that the church sold them out–that the LDS leadership abandoned one of the religion’s most crucial theological tenets for the sake of political expediency. These present-day polygamists therefore consider themselves to be the keepers of the flame–the only true and righteous Mormons. In forsaking Section 132–the sacred principle of plural marriage–the LDS Church has gone badly astray, they warn. Fundamentalist prophets bellow from their pulpits that the modern church has become “the wickedest whore of all the earth.” Mormon Fundamentalists probably cite Section 132 of The Doctrine and Covenants more than any other piece of LDS scripture. Their second-most-popular citation is likely Section 85, in which it was revealed to Joseph that “I, the Lord God, will send one mighty and strong . . . to set in order the house of God.” Many fundamentalists are convinced that the one mighty and strong is already here on earth among them, “holding the scepter of power in his hand,” and that very soon now he will lead the Mormon Church back onto the right path and restore Joseph’s “most holy and important doctrine.” TWO SHORT CREEK Extreme and bizarre religious ideas are so commonplace in American history that it is difficult to speak of them as fringe at all. To speak of a fringe implies a mainstream, but in terms of numbers, perhaps the largest component of the religious spectrum in contemporary America remains what it has been since colonial times: a fundamentalist evangelicalism with powerful millenarian strands. The doomsday theme has never been far from the center of American religious thought. The nation has always had believers who responded to this threat by a determination to flee from the wrath to come, to separate themselves from the City of Destruction, even if that meant putting themselves at odds with the law and with their communities or families. . . . We can throughout American history find select and separatist groups who looked to a prophetic individual claiming divine revelation, in a setting that repudiated conventional assumptions about property, family life, and sexuality. They were marginal groups, peculiar people, people set apart from the world: the Shakers and the Ephrata community, the communes of Oneida and Amana, the followers of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Philip Jenkins, Mystics and Messiahs Snaking diagonally across the top of Arizona, the Grand Canyon is a stupendous, 277-mile rent in the planet’s hide that functions as a formidable natural barrier, effectively cutting off the northwestern corner from the rest of the state. This isolated wedge of backcountry–almost as big as New Jersey, yet traversed by a single paved highway–is known as the Arizona Strip, and it has one of the lowest population densities in the forty-eight conterminous states. There is, however, one relatively large municipality here. Colorado City, home to some nine thousand souls, is more than five times as populous as any other town in the district. Motorists driving west on Highway 389 across the parched barrens of the Uinkaret Plateau are apt to be surprised when, twenty-eight miles past Fredonia (population 1,036, the second-largest town on the Strip), Colorado City suddenly materializes in the middle of nowhere: a sprawl of small businesses and unusually large homes squatting beneath a towering escarpment of vermilion sandstone called Canaan Mountain. All but a handful of the town’s residents are Mormon Fundamentalists. They live in this patch of desert in the hope of being left alone to follow the sacred principle of plural marriage without interference from government authorities or the LDS Church. Straddling the Utah-Arizona border, Colorado City is home to at least three Mormon Fundamentalist sects, including the world’s largest: the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. More commonly known as the United Effort Plan, or UEP, it requires its members live in strict accordance with the commandments of a frail, ninety-two-year-old tax accountant-turned-prophet named Rulon T. Jeffs.* “Uncle Rulon,” as he is known to his followers, traces his divinely ordained leadership in an unbroken chain that leads directly back to Joseph Smith himself. Although his feeble bearing would seem to make him poorly cast for the role, the residents of Colorado City believe that Uncle Rulon is the “one mighty and strong” whose coming was prophesied by Joseph in 1832. “A lot of people here are convinced Uncle Rulon is going to live forever,” says DeLoy Bateman, a forty-eight-year-old science teacher at Colorado City High School. Not only was DeLoy born and raised in this faith, but his forebears were some of the religion’s most illustrious figures: his great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather were among the thirteen founding members of the Mormon Fundamentalist Church, and his adoptive grandfather, LeRoy Johnson, was the prophet who immediately preceded Uncle Rulon as the leader of Colorado City. At the moment, DeLoy is driving his thirdhand Chevy van on a dirt road on the outskirts of town. One of his two wives and eight of his seventeen children are riding in the back. Suddenly he hits the brakes, and the van lurches to a stop on the shoulder. “Now there’s an interesting sight,” DeLoy declares, sizing up the wreckage of a television satellite dish behind some sagebrush off the side of the road. “Looks like somebody had to get rid of their television. Hauled it out of town and dumped it.” Members of the religion, he explains, are forbidden to watch television or read magazines or newspapers. The temptations of the outside world loom large, however, and some members of the faith inevitably succumb. “As soon as you ban something,” DeLoy observes, “you make it incredibly attractive. People will sneak into St. George or Cedar City and buy themselves a dish, put it up where it can’t easily be seen, and secretly watch TV during every free moment. Then one Sunday Uncle Rulon will give one of his sermons about the evils of television. He’ll announce that he knows exactly who has one, and warn that everyone who does is putting their eternal souls in serious jeopardy. “Every time he does that, a bunch of satellite dishes immediately get dumped in the desert, like this one here. For two or three years afterward there won’t be any televisions in town, but then, gradually, the dishes start secretly going up again, until the next crackdown. People try to do the right thing, but they’re only human.” As the TV prohibition suggests, life in Colorado City under Rulon Jeffs bears more than a passing resemblance to life in Kabul under the Taliban. Uncle Rulon’s word carries the weight of law. The mayor and every other city employee answers to him, as do the entire police force and the superintendent of public schools. Even animals are subject to his whim. Two years ago a Rottweiler killed a child in town. An edict went out that dogs would no longer be allowed within the city limits. A posse of young men was dispatched to round up all the canines, after which the unsuspecting pets were taken into a dry wash and shot. Read more <div id="

  • Before you buy, be aware that the author is an atheist. There is a constant subtle belittling of any type of belief in God, you get the feeling that he finds faith ridiculous & something for unintelligent people.There are some very interesting historical tidbits about the LDS church & its beginnings that I did not find in other books (I’ve read about 20). Some of the footnotes are fascinating. It is more about Mormon history & how the violence & control developed than about the one incident of murder in 1984 that is referred to on the cover.
  • This book has very little to do with 2 murder and EVERYTHING to do with the history of Mormonism and the history of the church. It starts way back in the early 1800s and goes through every meeting, every fight, every shooting and almost every name. At the beginning of every chapter the print would go down in size to a font so small I would have to enlarge it on my Kindle to be able to read it. If you are looking for a book about a murder and its investigation and trial I suggest you find a different book. If you want a book about the history of Mormons, this is the one for you! Some of the history was interesting.
  • A friend recommended this to me and it was quite eye-opening. The Mormon faith has violent, strange and inauspicious beginnings. The founder, Joseph Smith had close to 50 wives and this is one of the hallmarks of the beginnings of the faith. It is in the LDS scriptures to this day. Brigham Young had over 50 wives. Many of the polygamists of today finance their huge families due to taking advantage of the Welfare system although they proclaim to despise the very government that subsidizes their outrageous family size. Think about that for a while. Most modern day Mormons do not practice polygamy (or not openly) due to the federal government intervening in Utah to stop the practice but fundamentalist Mormons are still at it today. The faith has incredible growth primarily due to the fact that all mormon men must go out into the world and recruit, recruit, recruit. Read this book to find out the depths of the creepy factor.
  • Jon Krakauer is my author crush. Follow him on Instagram to understand some reasons why. But why I really adore him is because he genuinely cares about the subjects he writes about. He’s not writing to just write, he is writing because he’s on a mission to inform his readers of what’s really going on. He puts so much passion into his research, it’s awe-inspiring. Into Thin Air is one of my favorite novels. Missoula is a very close second. This book I decided to look into after the Lori Vallow case became national news. I wanted a better understanding of the Mormon religion. I ordered this book and Prophets Prey which Jon writes a forward for. This book is so compelling that I had a hard time putting it down to even sleep. Extreme Religion is a fascinating and terrifying subject matter. Especially after the Vallow case, learning more about some of these sectors in the Mormon community was jaw dropping. It was a very informative but shocking read. Which is again, why I adore Krakauer so much.
  • LIke the author, most of admire the way the Mormon religion generally has a very healthy family oriented approach to life. The idea of golden tablets that are lost (of course) and an angel with a language only the founder can understand (of course) and some of the hypocrisy of the revelations are just part of the basis of most religions. After all they are faith based not fact based. It was a good over view of the beginnings of the LDS Church and the real perils of polygamy when it is mixed with religious authority abuse. All in all it is a good read.
  • A friend recommended this book as a horror story. We are both fans of Jon Krakauer and he has a lot of credibility with both of us. Jon does a fair and factual history of the Mormon church and the rise of polygamy and the FLDS. While the Mormon church has denounced polygamy and the FDLS, this sect continues to thrive in Arizona, Texas, Mexico, Canada and they are now moving into South Dakota. In addition to the background and history, Krakauer zeroes in on several stories of individuals within the church, their exploitation and their escapes. He doesn’t sensationalize the stories but uses the stories to explain the impact of the absolute control the FLDS prophets have over all the inhabitants in these FDLS communities where they make their own laws and take advantage of federal and state social programs even while they openly distain the government. Why a horror story? The people in these communities are emotionally, physically and sexually abused. Men of 40 and 50 take “brides” who are 12 and 13 years old. Their parents willingly give them over to these prophets thinking it will assure them a place in heaven. These people think this is normal and the rest of society is heathen. It is an alternative universe, but it goes on here in the US.
  • For me the book is ‘a page turner’ for i could not put it down following the first ten pages. Learning of the development of the LDS faith through Joseph and his followers is clearly explained and w/out prejudice. The information regarding FLDS families enables one to understand the evolution of plural marriages, [which are deplorable — my personal opinion]. Had no idea why the book was purchased, other than having previously read one of his books. Great writer! Will purchase more of his books.
  • An excellent, thought-provoking dose of realism. Loved the audio book as it is read by the actual author. This story speaks to many who are disgusted with the hypocrisy and violence often associated with religious fundamentalism. Very well organized, well-written, and a pleasure to absorb. Highly recommended.
  • True crime book or a dissertation about the origins of LDS? Bit of both, in the second half it becomes quite boring with the trial details and no new developments about the case. The topic is interesting but the digressions and a huge number of characters outlined outweigh the purpose of the book.
  • Well, just finished this, and its a riveting read, deconstructing the murder of a woman and her young child by fundamentalist Mormon Ron Lafferty in 1984, because “God told me to”.’Under the Banner of Heaven’ tracks the history of Mormonism, and the growth of its fundamentalist wing, from the 19thC to the present day. All those wives! All that need for ‘blood atonement’! As Krakauer says, though Mormonism is now accepted as part of the American mainstream, it “usually hugs the right edge of the flow”, articulating reactionary – and usually offensive – views on race, gender, and sexuality.If you were sceptical about the worth of organised religion of any creed, this book will confirm and reinforce your view that, though religion may have some minor social benefits, its tendency to exclude (and ‘damn’) non-believers (with varying degrees of social exclusion or physical harm) in the name of ‘god’ tends to negate any intrinsic worth it may bring.Currently (as at September 2012), Mitt Romney – Mormon – is Republican candidate for US President. I doubt he’ll win, but the LDS must be delighted he’s got so far, and take it as evidence that the Final Day (second coming) is near…
  • I must have read a different book from other people reviews, as I found this the most boring book ever purchased. It stays so far off original story you forget what the subject book is about. If you want a book of morman history fine if not don’t bother after reading a third of book I abandoned out of sheer boredom.
  • Really excellent material, provides a good insight into the ‘first principles’ of the Mormon church. However, the structure is rather confused – it darts back and forth between the 1800s, 1900s and 2000s and can be difficult to track and follow the various people being mentioned. Often they are related, or lived in the same town, so it can all be rather frustrating to have their stories fragmented. With that said, though, I was gripped by the book and it is very thought provoking. I was especially impressed by the inclusion of the rebuttal from the LDS ‘management’ and also the rebuttal of the rebuttal!
  • This is what good popular history (okay, RECENT history) should be. It is a fast, interesting read. It has plenty of relevant context – and the best popular history, in my experience, has lots of context. It deals in a fascinating, somewhat sensational subject (killer Mormons), something you probably know little about but are startled by. It treats it seriously, with sound and detailed research, but not so much or so detailed that it becomes an academic treatise. One of those books you just never regret reading, and I went on to buy more on this topic
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