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Under The Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith Paperback – Unabridged, 1 Jul 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; New Edit/Cover edition (1 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330419129
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330419123
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 0.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,204 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

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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

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Colgan on 18 Oct. 2004
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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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By "keithparker5" on 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ijhodgson on 29 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Nena on 31 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
I read this book because I enjoyed Into the Wild, both book and film, and because I read in the February issue of Vogue that Kristen Stewart was reading it. She has good taste in my opinion and so I followed. Anyway, being from the UK and so having never had first hand experience with the Mormon religion I was very interested in finding out what the truth was amongst all the media driven ideas that are fed to us. The book reads like a long newspaper article, wonderfully intertwined stories, mixing politics, history and culture of a people and of a religion. Although parts of the book shock, parts also make you understand what, on the surface, you think impossible to understand. Would more then recommend this book, quick to read and highly addictive, one of the best things I have read in a long time!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Spider Monkey HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 7 Feb. 2008
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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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Flying Scotsman on 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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