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Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of…
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Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith (2003)

by Jon Krakauer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 165 (next | show all)
a quarter of the book was enough - it didn't draw me in. ( )
  kate_r_s | Feb 12, 2017 |
On July 24, 1984, Dan and Ron Lafferty murdered their sister-in-law and her baby girl. Why? Because god told them to do so.

Jon Krakauer provides a fascinating look at the religious environment that created them. The author begins with a history lesson. Her follows the creation of the Mormon Church by Joseph Smith two centuries ago and traces how the religion has become what we know today. The family were members of a fundamental branch of the LDS Church - a branch that broke away from the mainstream church and was horrified at the direction the church was taking - away from the comfort of patriarchal monotheism, away from the subjugation of women, away from the tenets of polygamy. The brothers blamed Brenda Lafferty for speaking up for herself and other women. The book is a terrifically interesting blend of history and true crime.

"Under the Banner of Heaven" isn't so much an indictment of Mormonism (mainstream OR fundamentalist) as it is an illustration of how excessive faith, or extremism in ANY religion can lead to corruption, immorality, and unreason. Towards the end of the book, the author provides a quote from a former member of a fundamentalist branch of the LDS, "If you want to know the truth, I think people within the religion are probably happier, on the whole, than people on the outside But some things in life are more important than being happy, like being free to think for yourself". ( )
  EvelynBernard | Jan 26, 2017 |
As a whole Jon Krakauer has an enjoyable style but there were a couple things that kept me from really enjoying the book.

One is that it felt a bit jumpy. That is it seemed he tended to skip from one thing to the other and at times I had trouble with the flip flop between more recent times and the times further in the past.

The second issue for me was that this book would be better suited for someone who knows very little about mormonism. For me over half the book was telling me things I already knew. This is no fault of the authors just a simple heads up to any others looking to read it. ( )
  Alexis_D. | Sep 26, 2016 |
A review of the history of the Mormon church, wrapped around the examination of a particular incident in which two brothers violently killed a woman and her baby because God had told them to remove her. Well researched and well written, it flows almost like a novel, though the frequent lurches in time can be a bit disconcerting at first, when you're reading about 1984, then 2003, then suddenly you're back in the colony of Nauvoo in the time of Joseph Smith. Perhaps the book didn't fit linearity, and after you get used to it, it works, but it can lead to a bit of vertigo at first. It is also a bit disconcerting to have a scholarly examination of the faith present the story of Joseph Smith in much the same way as Joseph himself would have told it, talking about him finding the golden plates as if it were a real event about which there is no skepticism, rather than addressing it as what he says happened. The author does later mention that there is no historical verification of the golden plates, but never mentioned the many different versions of the story that have been assembled over the years; he presents it as historical reality, though it is certain from his afterword that he himself does not believe the story. This work may be more relevant now than people realize, even though the murder was 30 years ago; the ideas discussed by the murderous brothers sound strangely similar to those of Cliven Bundy and his sons in their war with the federal government. It was rather eerie at times. ( )
  quantum_flapdoodle | Sep 3, 2016 |
This was my third Krakauer book. I have read Into the Wild and Into Thin Air before this one and really enjoyed his style of writing. I read this one based on a recommendation from my cousin. This book completely blew me away. It's amazing how many things have happened that much of American probably doesn't know about. Have you heard about Mountain Meadows?! I hadn't but I feel like it's something we should have learned in school. Mormons committing a mass execution of a group of pioneers on their way to California and blaming it on the local Native American tribe? That seems like something we should have learned in school. I've always had a kind of fascination with fundamentalist Mormons so this was a real eye opener into a history of the faith and what caused the religion to be so divided. Even amongst the fundamentalists there are different factions. This was really an interesting book. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone with an interest in history (whether it be religious history or just history in general) or those with an interest in Mormons and fundamentalist Mormons. ( )
  pennma05 | Jul 21, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 165 (next | show all)
His project is ambitious: With Mormon fundamentalism as his chief illustration, he seeks to understand why religious extremism flourishes in a skeptical, postmodern society. . . . The result is a book that is both insightful and flawed.
 
SINCE Sept. 11, 2001, Americans have talked a lot about the dark side of religion, but for the most part it isn't religion in America they've had in mind. Jon Krakauer wants to broaden their perspective. In ''Under the Banner of Heaven,'' he enters the obscure world of Mormon fundamentalism to tell a story of, as he puts it, ''faith-based violence.''
added by mikeg2 | editNew York Times, Robert Wright (Aug 3, 2003)
 
a quarter of the book was enough - it didn't draw me in
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jon Krakauerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
We believe in honesty, morality and purity; but when they enact tyrannical laws, forbidding us the free exercise of our religion, we cannot submit. God is greater than the United States, and when the Government conflicts with heaven, we will be ranged under the banner of heaven and against the government... Polygamy is a divine institution. it has been handed down direct from God. The United States cannot abolish it. No nation on earth can prevent it, nor all the nations of the earth combined, ... I defy the United States; I will obey God.
JOHN TAYLOR (ON JANUARY 4, 1880),
PRESIDENT, PROPHET, SEER, and REVELATOR,
CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF THE LATTER-DAY SAINTS
No western nation is as religion-soaked as ours, where nine out of ten of us love God and are loved by him in return. That mutual passion centers our society and demands some understanding, if our doom-eager society is to be understood at all.
HAROLD BLOOM,
THE AMERICAN RELIGION
Prologue
Almost everyone in Utah County has heard of the Lafferty boys.
PART 1
The schisms that shattered Mormonism time and again, more critical tha inroads from without, only attest its strength. They were signs of the seriousness with which converts and dissenters took their salvation, ready to stake their souls on points of doctrine which a later, less Biblical generation could treat with indifference. WILLIAM MULDER AND A. RUSSELL MORTENSEN, AMONG THE MORMONS
Dedication
For Linda.
First words
Almost everyone in Utah County has heard of the Lafferty boys. That's mostly a function of the lurid murders, of course, but the Lafferty surname had a certain prominence in the county even before Brenda and Erica Lafferty were killed.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0330419129, Paperback)

In 1984, Ron and Dan Lafferty murdered the wife and infant daughter of their younger brother Allen. The crimes were noteworthy not merely for their brutality but for the brothers' claim that they were acting on direct orders from God. In Under the Banner of Heaven, Jon Krakauer tells the story of the killers and their crime but also explores the shadowy world of Mormon fundamentalism from which the two emerged. The Mormon Church was founded, in part, on the idea that true believers could speak directly with God. But while the mainstream church attempted to be more palatable to the general public by rejecting the controversial tenet of polygamy, fundamentalist splinter groups saw this as apostasy and took to the hills to live what they believed to be a righteous life. When their beliefs are challenged or their patriarchal, cult-like order defied, these still-active groups, according to Krakauer, are capable of fighting back with tremendous violence. While Krakauer's research into the history of the church is admirably extensive, the real power of the book comes from present-day information, notably jailhouse interviews with Dan Lafferty. Far from being the brooding maniac one might expect, Lafferty is chillingly coherent, still insisting that his motive was merely to obey God's command. Krakauer's accounts of the actual murders are graphic and disturbing, but such detail makes the brothers' claim of divine instruction all the more horrifying. In an age where Westerners have trouble comprehending what drives Islamic fundamentalists to kill, Jon Krakauer advises us to look within America's own borders. --John Moe

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:45 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

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.… (more)

» see all 7 descriptions

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