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.
"'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"