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Under The Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith [Unabridged] [Paperback]

Jon Krakauer
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 July 2011

Brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty insist they were commanded to kill by God. Krakauer's investigation is a meticulously researched, bone-chilling narrative of polygamy, savage violence and unyielding faith: an incisive, gripping work of non-fiction that illuminates an otherwise confounding realm of human behaviour.

'A provocative look at the twisted roots of American fundamentalism' Will Self, Evening Standard Books of the Year

‘Excellent . . . a lucid, judicious, even sympathetic account not just of Mormon Fundamentalism but of the seductive power of fanaticism in general’ Daily Telegraph

‘Krakauer writes exceptionally well: as thrilling as Capote on true crime, as devastating as Nietzsche on religious fundamentalism’ Scotland on Sunday

‘Remarkable . . . for anyone interested in the wilder frontiers of spiritual conviction, this book is a must’ Independent

'Krakauer is an adept chronicler of extremists, and he's as intent on understanding religious fanatics as he was in his earlier books on exploring the obsessions of monomaniacal adventurers' Los Angeles Times


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Under The Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith + Eiger Dreams: Ventures among men and mountains + Into Thin Air: A personal account of the Everest disaster  - updated 2nd edition
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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; Unabridged edition (1 July 2011)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0330419129
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330419123
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jon Krakauer is the author of Eiger Dreams, Into The Wild, Into Thin Air, and Under the Banner of Heaven and is the editor of the Modern Library Exploration series.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Under the Banner of Heaven is a riveting read. The Lafferty boys were brought up in a squeaky clean All-American family. So what made two of them follow revelations from God to slit the throat of their ex-beauty queen sister-in-law and her infant daughter? The problem was that they got involved in the fundamentalist, survivalist wing of the Mormon Church.

Author Jon Krakauer expertly jumps from the immediate horror of the Lafferty boys to the context of Mormonism and the wider questions of religious violence. In the process we are taken on a house of horrors ride through the badlands of fundamentalist Mormon religion. Krakauer introduces us to red necks with more than 30 "wives"--many who were "married" in their early teens. It's a story of fraud, child abuse, incest, physical violence and spiritual and emotional rape at a deep level.

The contemporary story is lurid and shocking, but as Krakauer relates the picaresque story of Joseph Smith--the founder of the Mormon religion--you realise that present day fundamentalist Mormons are far closer to their founder in spirit and behaviour than the more squeaky clean manifestations of modern Mormonism. This well researched and tightly written account gives a great potted history of Mormonism and illuminates the psychotic fringes of religious mentality. In doing so it reveals the wild dangers of spiritual free wheeling and the need for caution and restraint in religion. --Dwight Longenecker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"'A provocative look at the twisted roots of American fundamentalism' Will Self, Evening Standard Books of the Year; 'Excellent... a lucid, judicious, even sympathetic account not just of Mormon Fundamentalism but of the seductive power of fanaticism in general' Daily Telegraph; 'Krakauer writes exceptionally well: as thrilling as Capote on true crime, as devastating as Nietzsche on religious fundamentalism' Scotland on Sunday; 'Remarkable... for anyone interested in the wilder frontiers of spiritual conviction, this book is a must' Independent; 'Krakauer is an adept chronicler of extremists, and he's as intent on understanding religious fanatics as he was in his earlier books on exploring the obsessions of monomaniacal adventures' Los Angeles Times"

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
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. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fundamentalism from Within 30 Aug 2004
Format:Paperback
This book no doubt has its detractors. In typical fashion they will try to defend themselves which of course is completely justified. However, if one reads Jon Krakauer's book with an open mind (I know of no other way to properly read a book) then you will appreciate the sheer enormity of the challenges this book poses in trying to understand the human condition. This book is about way more than religious fundamentalism, it's an inquiry into the extent that we justify our thoughts, rituals, beliefs, actions and even the 'justification of our justifications' in an effort to find our appropriate place in this infinitely complex human 'order'. It's a powerful book dedicated to the ever-elusive pursuit of truth. To come away from this book unchallenged means only one thing, ignorance. Well done Jon. A masterpiece.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Under The Banner Of Heaven 7 Feb 2008
By Spider Monkey HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
'Under The Banner Of Heaven' is written with Jon Krakauer's usual easily read and digested style and tells the story not only of the Mormon fundamentalist murder of a mother and baby in the early 1980's, but also the history of the Mormon faith. Knowing nothing about Mormons, this historical aspect of the book really added to my overall understanding of the murders (and what may have lead to them) and the two aspects of this book are weaved together perfectly. The parts about the murders are shocking and a touch distressing to read in places and the origins and development of the Mormon faith is hard to believe at times. Jon Krakauer seems to write in a measured way and doesn't seem excessively biased. A great deal of the points he makes are backed up by various Mormon texts and interviews. The extent of Mormon fundamentalism is unnerving to discover and read about and casts their self proclaimed religious superiority in a rather dubious light. This is a clear and readable account of some horrific murders and the history of the Mormon faith and it kept me engrossed the whole way through. It's not Krakauer's usual outdoor adventure type book, but it is a fascinating read never-the-less. Worth a read.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A chilling but brilliant book by Krakauer 3 Jun 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is quite simply one of the most breathtaking books I have ever laid hands on.

It is extremely revealing educationally, but also contains the power to shock and surprise, as its author John Krakauer deftly and compellingly interweaves Mormon history with the current LDS church situation, and the more fundamentalist modern disciples of Joseph Smith. He received death threats for this work, and considering how it exposes the shameful and disturbing roots and beliefs of Mormonism, it is hardly surprising. Joseph Smith's claims to revelation lack any credibility in their historical, scientific and logical foundations; they make no sense whatsoever and are easily proven false. While they are indeed laughable, the deception that he has brought to millions, is not.

Krakauer has a scintillating writing style and is to be applauded for bravely bringing all this to light. I borrowed this book from a friend, but I have just purchased it from Amazon as it is well worth another read. Get this, and be gripped.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
...although nominally about Mormonism (with a handy picture of a mountain on the cover, just to tempt in Krakauer fans who liked'Into Thin Air'), 'Under the Banner of Heaven' is really about how fundamentalism distorts everyone who touches it.
There's a wonderful scene near the end where he asks Ron Lafferty, who's spent half his adult life in prison for his part in a 'religious' murder of a woman and a baby whether he sees any similiarities between himself and Osama bin Laden... and for just a second, he almost does.
Unusual and utterly engrossing, this book is wonderful reading for almost anyone: it's beautifully written (if often harrowing), and if Krakauer rarely conceals his own prejudices, without his passion, it wouldn't be nearly so intense and fascinating.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 21 Nov 2007
Format:Paperback
Another substantial nail in the coffin of religious fundamentalism. Gives the reader another perspective on those smart "elders" in black suits and ties knocking on doors. Utterly compelling and anger inducing.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A chilling story of religious fundamentalism 26 Oct 2007
Format:Paperback
This book is entirely absorbing, which is no surprise coming from this fine author.

There are two strands woven together throughout the book -- the shocking 1984 murders attributed to fundamentalist Mormons, and a historical perspective on the origins of the Latter Day Saints. The skillful way in which Krakauer weaves the strands together holds the reader's interest and is very effective.

The book includes extensive interviews with fundamentalist Dan Lafferty, incarcerated in the Utah State Prison for the murders of his brother's wife and daughter. The interviews, along with the recounting of the murders, are chilling in their details. Just as chilling is the the historical perspective on how the polygamous fundamentalists splintered from mainstream Mormonism, claiming their religious direction to be directly received from God. The facts of this frightening phenomenon were probably not widely known before this book was published.

Knowing very little about the Church of the Latter Day Saints, I came away from this book with much more knowledge about the religion. The distinction is clearly drawn between the mainstream LDS and the fundamentalist sect, giving the book a balanced feel when it could have been pure sensationalism. Krakauer seems to stand aside and let the story tell itself without interpretation or judgment; only the best writers can give that impression.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars He writes very informed and balanced about this topic.
He writes very informed and balanced about this topic.
Published 1 day ago by Marc Jacobs
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
received this book fairly quickly have yet to tead it but looking forward to it.
Published 15 days ago by joan connelly
5.0 out of 5 stars Fundamentally brilliant
This is a fascinating if a little frightening account of the reasons for the seemingly random murder of a mother and her child by a pair of religious nutters. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Mr Gordon Davidson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fascinating, absorbing and gripping.
Published 29 days ago by JosephB
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping History
Having already read most of Krakauer's books i was at least left with this one in which he recounts the history of Mormonism and of religions effect on people. Read more
Published 2 months ago by john
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Interesting background to a weird phenomena. Easy read. The book explains how Mormonism began and resulting current behaviors. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Ms. Louise Knight
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a modern classic in my opinion . . .
. . . . .it says so much about the times we live in! Bought this as a present for a friend who loved it as well!
Published 6 months ago by Aisling Dunne
4.0 out of 5 stars god said it was ok
This narrative is presented as being the story of the murder of a young woman and her 15 month old child by religious psychopaths belonging to one of the extreme fundamentalist... Read more
Published 7 months ago by RR
5.0 out of 5 stars jon krakauer
jon normally writes about climbing. eg into thin air. so he strays off the path with this book. focuses on renegade mormon fundamentalists. Read more
Published 7 months ago by jimbo
3.0 out of 5 stars an ok book read whilst travelling in Utah
but have to say I didn't finish it a little hard going. Interesting to read about the Mormons but, fortunately, bears no resemblance to the fine people who are today's Mormons.
Published 8 months ago by pentui
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