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Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of…

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

by Jon Krakauer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,385184836 (3.95)280
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 ₃divinely inspired₄ 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, and Mexico, 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.… (more)

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» See also 280 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 185 (next | show all)
Disturbing, infuriating, uncomfortable and important ( )
  hatingongodot | May 3, 2020 |
I don't like non fiction, and I don't really read a lot of it, until I read this book and became slightly obsessed with the way Krakauer writes. Obsessed meaning that I bought every book he's written for my Kindle. I have this thing about FLDS and LDS that just intrigues me, and I want to read about it. I didn't find it extremely harsh, except for the True Crime parts, and I found the parts about the LDS faith pretty straight forward and honest. It was a page turner, and I never really understood how a non fiction book could be that, but it was, and now I'm obsessed with Krakauer and it's not healthy. ( )
  rachelreading | Apr 20, 2020 |
Started reading this audiobook on a long trip to Europe. It was an enjoyable and not very challenging read. I thought that the story petered out somewhat towards the end, felt that Krakauer struggled with a good place to come to a stop. Also the book struggled somewhat to stay on topic, since the murder in question just would not have had enough meat to form an entire book without the additional history on Mormonism and look at the Elizabeth Smart, Tom Green, and other cases. ( )
  jeterat | Apr 10, 2020 |
Review: Under The Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer.

Jon Krakauer explores the history of uniquely American and modern religion. There are plenty of unsavory aspects of this history of the Latter-Day-Saints as there is in every other religion. Krakauer interviews Dan Lafferty’s in the prison where he is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. The discussion and information in this book I found interesting as the Mormon faith in particular about the fundamentalist offshoots that has been carried through the 19th century which has not changed much over the years.

Krakauer writes about a well known murder case when two Lafferty brothers murdered their sister-in-law and her fifteen month old daughter. He also examines the radical Mormon sects that have broken away from the main church as some don’t agree in theological beliefs as polygamy.

This religion has a dark history of violence and persecution and some authorities like Government officials seem to look the other way when engaging the law in all the states where Mormons settle in large groups or families as they call their communities. I am a person who is open-minded when it comes to religious freedom however; I believe that some communities need to be closely monitored as their nature and activities to ensure these people have chosen freely this way of life. ( )
  Juan-banjo | Feb 27, 2020 |
It was fast-paced and filled with interesting facts but sometimes I felt pretty talked-down to. Which I guess is his way. Clear and readable and I'd recommend it as a way to blow through some nonfiction. ( )
  mirnanda | Dec 27, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 185 (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)

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jon Krakauerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
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.
Almost everyone in Utah County has heard of the Lafferty boys.
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
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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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