Book Reviews of Under the Banner of Heaven : A Story of Violent Faith

Under the Banner of Heaven : A Story of Violent Faith
Under the Banner of Heaven A Story of Violent Faith
Author: Jon Krakauer
ISBN-13: 9780330419123
ISBN-10: 0330419129
Publication Date: 8/6/2004
Rating:
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 28

3.8 stars, based on 28 ratings
Publisher: Pan MacMillan
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

98 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Under the Banner of Heaven : A Story of Violent Faith on + 410 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 17
A very well-researched, bone-chilling account of brutal murders committed in the name of God. This present-day story is intertwined with a history of Mormonism and its many splinter fundamentalist groups.
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Helpful Score: 17
A compelling history of FLDS sects, the mainstream Mormon church, and the events leading to a grotesque crime. Also a thought-provoking look at the psychological and sociological underpinnings of fundamentalist religious fanaticism in general (worth contemplating in today's world). A great read.
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Helpful Score: 6
A riveting true account of the brutal murders of a young mother and her infant daughter at the hands of two fundamentalist Mormon brothers who claimed to be directed by God. Traces the histories of the Mormon church and various excommunicated splinter sects, and discusses the seeds of fundamentalism and how ordinary people can be turned into fanatics willing to commit acts of violence in the name of God. Fascinating reading.
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Helpful Score: 6
Great Read!
This is the literary version of a perfectly produced and directed documentary on BOTH the murders AND the LDS/FLDS faith in general. The story of the Lafferty murders could not have been revealed as thoroughly without including the condensed yet comprehensive lesson on Mormonism. Writing of the murders apart from the church history {or the church unrelated to the Lafferty clan} would have produced only pedestrian pulp.

Prior to this read, my image of the LDS was limited to memories of white- shirted missionaries pedaling the neighborhoods and the rumor that their basements were stowed the provisions for the pending Armageddon. This book brilliantly reported so much more. Most importantly, Krakauer reminds us once again that coming from the castigating finger of RELIGION is evil incarnate.
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Helpful Score: 5
This book is very biased. I'm an atheist, so I have no vested interest in the religion, but Krakauer chooses to reveal some pretty harsh history about Mormonism. He takes a somewhat mocking tone while describing how the religion began, describes some pretty graphic scenes of violence, and glosses over some of the parts describing Mormon values.

By the title, I wasn't expecting this book to try and be objective; however I had hoped Krakauer would present at least some part of Mormonism that wasn't "bad." For instance, I had hoped he would describe, with the same level of detail he gave the massacre, why the group had to move around so much.

Parts of this book are slow, but the interesting parts do redeem the book by moving so quickly. I recommend this to those who are interested in the history of the Mormon faith, but suggest reading the other side, too.
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Helpful Score: 3
It was an informative, albeit disturbing read.
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Helpful Score: 3
Fascinating if you're interested in learning about the Mormon religion and the history of the church. And, like all of Krakauer's books, it is thoroughly researched. Since I'm a Krakauer fan, I enjoyed the book and the detail. The story itself, of the murders, is frightening because it happened when we're supposed to be an enlightened people.
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Helpful Score: 2
I loved this book. Well researched and written, very compelling.
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Helpful Score: 2
Fascinating book. It is rare that I come across a book that I can't put down, but this was one of them. Mr. Krakauer's research into the history of mormonism really opened my eyes, and I have done further research since reading this book into the subject. I applaud the rare book that inspires you to look into the topic with more depth.
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Helpful Score: 2
Great informative book about Mormons researched from a non-Mormon perspective. I have a new appreciation for Mormons after reading the stories in this book.
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Helpful Score: 2
The title of this book is Under the Banner of Heaven : A Story of Violent Faith, so please dont expect stories about how a nice Mormon boy saved a kitten from a tree. This is a story about how two brothers who hold certain not main stream Mormon beliefs, including polygramy, killed their 3rd brother's wife and 15 month baby. The author called her blameless, but the Lafferty brothers did not considered her blameless which is why they killed her. To better understand the Lafferty Brothers belief system, the author goes to the very beginning and gives a very detailed and well researched chapters on the history of the Mormon church. Then explains how the extreme groups came to being. The trial of the two brothers gives us even more insight into why these men felt they were called of God to murder.

I thought the author, did a superb job of explaining the history of the LDS faith. He did so without mocking, and even presents alternative views on the history. The author was able to make sense of the very web of these famlies, from Mexico, Canada and the USA and how they all intermingle and relate. You will see some references to Tom Green, Warren Jeffs and the abduction of Elizabeth Smart. Plus there are some quotes from women who escaped the extreme group.

There are many notes and documentation that help with understanding the history of LDS and the FLDS.
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Helpful Score: 2
Dryer than I expected it to be, Under the Banner of Heaven is still an interesting non-fiction read. It recounts the story of the brutal murder of a woman and her baby daughter, committed by two brothers who insist God commanded them to kill their victims. In investigating and writing about the crime, Krakauer ends up revealing a darker side of Mormonism - a darker sect of religious folks (not mainstream Mormons) with distorted (and dangerous) views of faith. It's fascinating; just a little more clinical than I expected.
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Helpful Score: 1
This book gives the history of polygamy through out the first half of the book. It's tough reading and very dry. I gave up. I wanted to know about the story line and the people involved in the murder but couldn't stand it long enough to get to the point where the story of their lives even began. If you're looking for interesting reading on the subject of polygamy, skip this one unless you want the nitty gritty, teeny tiny details doled out and dragged out for over half the book.
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Helpful Score: 1
I grew up in Southern Idaho--Mormon country--so I know well much of the landscape covered in this book. Most of the Mormons I know are decent, honest people, but don't kid yourself. As a non-Mormon, if you open a 7/11 in a predominantly Mormon town, you will go broke. Run for a public office against a Mormon candidate and you will lose. The Mormon church dictates to its members with a heavy hand. They take care of their own. Consequently, you won't see any good Mormons on welfare, so it's a mixed bag. In truth, I have no argument with individual Mormons, but with the church as a whole, I have a lot of problems, starting with the hypocrisy of their leaders.

For the person who said this was a harsh look at their history, well, it's a harsh history. Like any religion, they've suppressed things that make them look bad. The early revelations leave a door open for those who are prone to fanaticism to embrace polygamy, which I find in my readings of both the Mormons and the Muslims that this practice creates horrible misery.

That the church allows no question of their authority, no ability to follow your own conscience, is one of the big points, in my mind, that makes them a cult, rather than a religion. That they always look to the book of Mormon for answers before they look to the bible is also a problem I've long had. Since when would the writings of a prophet be a better guide than the words of the one you believe to be God?

One of the things about the edition I read is that the author includes the LDS church's criticism of this book in the back as well as his response, point by point. I found that extremely interesting.
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Helpful Score: 1
Study of the history of the Mormon Church and its various schisms, mostly over the issue of polygamy, and how they led to fundamentalist violence extending into the present day.
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Helpful Score: 1
Fascinating read, appears to be well researched, and very well written. The author tells of the history of Mormonism and interweaves it with a the story of a modern day murder.
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Helpful Score: 1
This is a book about Mormons especially the fundamentalists... and how bizarre religious thinking led to the murder of an innocent mother and her child... a true story.
I found the writing objective and enlightening -typical of a journalist.
For me in 2009, my #1 book.
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Helpful Score: 1
Very interesting look into the extremist/polygamist cults that have broken away from mainstream Mormon belief.
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A fascinating and disturbing analysis of how polygyny in Mormon subgroups could result in the murder of an innocent woman and baby.
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Anybody with an interest in the history of the West should read this book. The history of the Mountain Meadows Massacre is thoroughly researched by the author. This has been swept under the rug in the past. It shows in great detail why some consider the Mormons, at least at times, not to be a particularly benign or positive group!
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The book is extremely informative about the fundamentalist mormon religion.
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This book was absolutely amazing and I learned more about the Mormon faith from it than I have learned from any of my Mormon friends. While most Mormons see this book as an unflattering view of their faith's history, I really took it as a compliment to their passionate dedication to their God and their heritage. I think Krakauer researched this book impeccably and brought a very unbiased view in to some of the more extreme sects of Mormonism. He writes with confidence but also acknowledges there are parts of the story that he can not speak to. All in all a fascinating book that taught me a lot and brought a new appreciation for one of the world's fastest growing religions.
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Pretty powerful expose on some extreme Mormon sects. Riveting content, written by the same author who wrote, "Into Thin Air", about the ascent of Mt. Everest. Hard book to put down, hard to leave the images behind.
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Jon Krakauer has created a book that is both a suspense story and history lesson that is not at all dull. This book was actually more fun to read than his "Into Thin Air" but also more along the lines of solid journalism than exciting drama as his previous books tended to be. Krakauer is one of the best non-fiction writers alive today and this book read a lot like "In Cold Blood" which I believe was his intent. If you loved as I did "In Cold Blood" this book will not let you down.
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I found this book to be fascinating! I did not know the history of LDS and it gave you the whole story. It was written as one chapter of history and one chapter of the murder story, back and forth for the length of the book. (Had a daughter who was moving to Utah and insisted she read it before she went. It was also recommended to her by one of the persons that interviewed her. It's a real strange state and she has since moved on. Not a place for a single non-Morman female.) All of Krakauer's books are written in a very journalistic style and not as a story, per se.
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It is a disturbing story but very well written and interesting, in fact i couldn't put it down.
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Really eye-opening book; glad I read it.
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Very interesting and scary. I lived the Utah for a couple of years in the 1970's. It might be Zion to Mormans but it was Hell for me.
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Enthralling. Unsettling, to be sure, at times, but always extremely educational. This book is NOT about bashing Mormons. This book does, however, explain a lot about the history of the religion's development, in order to explain how the splinter Fundamentalist Mormon groups came about. Fascinating details of early American history covered that I never heard about in any class. I suppose it could be considered a 'true crime' story as well, but I've never read a book in that genre that really brought the story to life as captivatingly as this one did. I thought the author had a great organizational style, in piecing together the flow of facts and stories being revealed. Even if you are not interested in the subject, I'd recommend this to anyone who is interested in writing non-fiction for a popular audience.
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Good historical research and interesting outlook on the Mormon religion - quite a different Krakauer, but still good.
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Love Krakauer's style - straight writing based on research. Provided a great look in the history of the religion and community.
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i think the book was great. it did deviate (a LOT) from the topic, but it always reminded you of what you'd forgotten. there's a ton of mormon history, really teaches you a lot. is riveting, and sheds light on just what a charlatan joseph smith really was. sorry, mormons.
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This book enlightened me to the background, the history and the current status of the "newest" religion in America.
It's a frightening situation when the radicals become the leaders. More control and exposure needs to take place, and I'm not talking about fake reality shows about multiple wives. Children are not wives, towns are not to be totally controlled by an undemocratic group. Hard to believe this is going on in America.
Of course, I realize there are many God fearing members who do not practice as the others do. Hopefully their guidance and prayers will offset the evil done by others.
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I was really into this one for about 50 pages but the mistreatment of the young girls made me pretty sick, it was just one thing after another. Another aspect was that I had a very hard time reading it due to the heavy use of italics, can't believe that they published the book that way,very hard on the eyes! It is a well researched book and I always respect thoroughness in research but ti got pretty silly and redundant in many places.and that's what finally wore me down
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I don't know what to believe now. I thought I knew about The Church of the Latter Day Saints but this history is mind blowing. I have an open mind and it is now majorly blown. Murders and revelations abound. Crackpots or clerics? How is Elizabeth Smart today and are her parents still invested in their Church? I have more questions now than I ever had about the power of belief vs the moral conscience. The weaving of more than one story, crime and identity at first read/listen proved to be confusing but WAIT. By the last CD it all came together for the Biggest Mystery of all.
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A reader looking for a true crime account of the Lafferty murders would most likely be disappointed with Banner, as the focus is less on the crimes themselves and much more on the Mormon history and culture that led up to them. It's interesting enough but long-winded, with rather a lot of speculation and conspiracy theory thrown in. The prose is mediocre, and often confusing, so many names and places in such a haphazard timeline. I was also put off once again (as with Into the Wild) by Krakauer's irrelevant and none-too-subtle political remarks. I probably won't read more about Mormon history or the Laffertys; I definitely won't read more by this author.
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Interesting book about Mormonism, some of its splinter groups, and a murder that takes place in 1984, seemingly as a result of some of the beliefs of the church.
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This book is OK. I enjoyed the modern parts, but the historical accounts tended to drag a little bit. Definitely not a light, quick read.
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A little hard to get into but when you do, you will read a bone-chilling account of polygamy, violence and unyielding faith of the nature of religious belief.
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Krakauer's writing style leaves much to be desired, however the account itself is worth the read.
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Fascinating and scary inside look
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I have read several of Krakauer's books and enjoy his writing style. (Although I do have to have a dictionary handy most of the time.) In Under the Banner of Heaven I felt that he was reasonably unbiased in his description of the early days of Mormonism. It isn't easy to be ambivilant about this religion, especially the break-off Fundamentalists. The story is, of course, a true one and can be hard to read because of the violence to a woman and child. And the descriptions of polygamy are heavy to absorb.
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This is the most compelling non-fiction book I have ever read. The narration by Scott Brick adds to the intensity of the story. There were times I was so engaged in the book, I literally couldn't make myself turn it off. The history is thorough and incredibly interesting. Krakauer presents the facts as is, without putting his own thoughts and feelings into the mix. I'd recommend this book for anyone who likes this author or who enjoys compelling non-fiction or if you have an interest in the history of Mormonism.
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I thought Krakauer cleverly weaved in the historical background of the LDS church along with the modern day story of the FLDS Lafferty brothers. I was quite mesmerized and enjoyed the account at the end of the man who left the FLDS church. It is thought provoking and made my 5-hour drive quite enjoyable.
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Jon Krakauer jumps between three different storylines in his Mormon expose, but the book never really gelled for me as a whole. He was at his best exploring Mormonism's checkered past and the tiny Western communities where polygamy still flourishes. He was less convincing in arguing that two chilling murders committed by religious fanatics indicate Mormonism is, at heart, a violent religion.
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This was a very interesting book. It really gave an in depth look at the fundamentalist sect of the Mormon Church. If you are looking for a murder mystery, there is not much of that in the book
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This is an extremely well written book. I could only read it a little at a time because the details are often sickening. I was truly amazed and appalled to learn that a sect that openly abuses girls and women is allowed to exist in the United States.
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Excellent read, very informative and terrifying all at the same time. I really enjoyed this book.
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Excellent, chilling portrait of a fundamentalist mormon life.
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as one of my favorite authors, jon krakauer does an excellent job turning his research into a story full of history, mystery, confusion, and questions. i learned many things about the mormon religion, the fundamentalist mormon religion, and their history.
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Very insightful. A must read for anyone needing information in true events involving the history of the cult of FLDS.
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Very interesting (and disturbing) account of Mormon history and current fundamentalist Mormon life.
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When a book leaves me wanting to know more about a subject, it definitely makes an impression. Jon Krakauer brought history and religion together in a very cohesive manner, so I want to know more of both the HISTORY and RELIGION.
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Very interesting. I wanted to learn more about the Mormon faith and got more than I bargained for!
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This was a very scary and sad story. To think that someone could actually use God to commit such a heinous crime is beyond my comprehension. Though the subject matter was not to my liking the story was good.
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This was a great book. Very moving. It was also very sad. I highly reccomend this bok to be read. But if you aren't up to some very intense reading don't read it. I passed my copy to my sister and neice, who is 16. My neice also loved and was very moved by this dragic story.
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Can be tedious at times, but it provides interesting background on Mormon Church.
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I enjoyed getting a better understanding of the history of the Mormon religion and the roots and struggles surrounding polygamy. However, the murder that is the main theme of the book seems to be a footnote to what is in essence a book about Mormonism, it's history and beliefs.
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A bit long but good. Very interesting.
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This is a well researched book that juxtaposes the history of the Church of the Latter Day Saints and its founder Joseph Smith, with the insanity of the modern day polygamous cult of the FLDS which is an off shoot of Mormonism.
Very brutal. Revealing. I'll never look at Mormonism the same way now knowing some of its history now.
As always Krakauer does a stellar job with this book in terms of research, history and current events.
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very interesting,i did'nt know much about mormans or their faith but it was an eye opener.
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This book does a great job in tellnig the history of the Mormon church in America, and builds on recent events. However, the book was a little dry for my taste, and as such was not as quick a read as I would like. All in all, a good book.
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This book was very interesting. I learned a lot about the Mormon church. More then I probably ever wanted to know. But, I found it so interesting I have satarted reading about other religion start ups.
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Wow! A portal to a different world within our own. Krakauer is a master journalist.
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This book really provides interesting insight into the history of the Mormons and of Mormon Fundmentalists as well as telling the horrifying story of a murder. Really good read!
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I found this book interesting but a little mundane at times.
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Very fascinating look into the Mormon religion, its history and current state of affairs. Focuses mostly on Fundamentalist Mormons who practice polygamy, statuatory rape, and incest...all in the name of religion. Living in Arizona, where most of the story takes place in, this is a hot topic here.
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Interesting reading
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Very well written. Outstanding book.
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Good book, for those of us that like non-fiction
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When I got this book I expected it to be about the two brothers and the mother and daughter they killed. It is quite a bit more than that. Krakauer uses the account of the two brothers and their brutal murder as a jumping off point to give an account of the history of Fundamentalist Mormonism. This is NOT a book about the History of Mormons, nor is Krakauer trying to say that all Mormans are like the ones in this book. Some of the history traces back to Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and other main stream Mormon historic leaders, but that is only because Fundamentalist Mormons trace their roots back to them as well. It is a very interesting read into Fundamentalist sects and how they came about/what they believe and how they function.
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Read this book!! This is an amazing book!! I could not put it down and now I am off to request some of referenced books.
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What about the boys?

Under the Banner of Heaven is a thoughtful, evenhanded examination of Mormonism, its history, and its current status. Jon Krakauer explores in detail the split between the mainline Mormons, who have renounced polygamy, and the fundamentalists, who continue to practice it. The impact of the fundamentalists is shown through the story of the murders of a woman and her baby.

The only lack that I noticed was, what happens to the young men, most of whom will not be designated as candidates for marriage within the community because the young women are all handed off to the old men. Certainly, the old men are not likely to want the young ones around because they would be competition. I have heard a rumor that they are expelled from the community shortly after puberty, which would make sense, but it is such a shocking allegation that I am reluctant to believe it.
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Non fiction, Krakauer weaves the story of the Lafferty brothers and their fanatical brethren with a look at Mormonism's past.
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This book is the most comprehensive history and analysis of the Mormon faith I have ever read.
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Poorly researched. Could only get through about half.
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Finally a true account of the Mormon religion. This books has been criticized by the Mormon's because it exposes the truths and myths behind the practices and teaching of the church. Well researched and documented. I have first hand knowledge of this church and after years or living within its grasp I realized this church is a cult. This book is factual and a real eye opener for those that are in denial of the church or just curious about its teaching and beliefs.
As far as this book covering both sides of the religion that is not what this book was meant to do.
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Compelling and tragic...hard to put down. Never knew mormons had such a violent background and some men are still taking on plural wives, even young teenage girls.
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I requested this book because I loved Krakauer's "Into Thin Air". I requested this book without knowing the subject matter and as I have a little one of my own, I just don't think I could read about this - as interesting as it might be. Call me a softie.
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Well-written true crime situated within its historical and cultural context. Shines a light on a shadowy American sub-culture.
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Well written history of the disturbing side of mormonism.
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This book is about the violent history of Mormonism but it should be titled UNDER THE BANNER OF STUPIDITY because anyone who believes that this man had a revelation from heaven and had gold tablets given to him and then disappeared has fewer marbles than any human being I know. With all due respect for those who love God and his only son Jesus...WHAT ARE YOU THINKING TO BELIEVE MORMONISM! Unbelievable! Youve got to read this book for the sheer shocking truth behind this pseudo-religion.
What a crock! If you are not religious then I assume the virgin birth seem a bit outlandish but really you dont have an idea what outlandish is until you read what Joseph Smith pulled over the eyes of, forgive me, really stupid people!
And for every man who has practiced Mormonism and plurality of wives and told these young teenage girls that God said they must marry them or be banished to hell, has in my opinion, just sealed their own hellish fate!
Well I thought Id read just about everything but this true story, while well written and I commend the author, this religion takes the audacious and brutal cake of a bizarre faith and twists it around and trys to force us to eat it! I give it a 3 for originality and a 10 for brazen hypocracy and evilness personified.
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What an amazing story! The line between Christian and Fundamentalist is definately crossed here. This true story will break your heart and scare you at the same time.
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This book is about the violent history of Mormonism but it should be titled UNDER THE BANNER OF STUPIDITY because anyone who believes that this man had a revelation from heaven and had gold tablets given to him and then disappeared has fewer marbles than any human being I know. With all due respect for those who love God and his only son Jesus...WHAT ARE YOU THINKING TO BELIEVE MORMONISM! Unbelievable! Youve got to read this book for the sheer shocking truth behind this pseudo-religion.
What a crock! If you are not religious then I assume the virgin birth seem a bit outlandish but really you dont have an idea what outlandish is until you read what Joseph Smith pulled over the eyes of, forgive me, really stupid people!
And for every man who has practiced Mormonism and plurality of wives and told these young teenage girls that God said they must marry them or be banished to hell, has in my opinion, just sealed their own hellish fate!
Well I thought Id read just about everything but this true story, while well written and I commend the author, this religion takes the audacious and brutal cake of a bizarre faith and twists it around and trys to force us to eat it! I give it a 3 for originality and a 10 for exposing the Mormons brazen hypocracy and evilness personified.
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Extraordinarily disturbing book, but one of the most fascinating I've read in a long time!! Everyone NEEDS to read this book!!
reviewed Under the Banner of Heaven : A Story of Violent Faith on + 10 more book reviews
A riveting tale of the Fundamentalist Mormon movement. Very hard to put this book down.
reviewed Under the Banner of Heaven : A Story of Violent Faith on + 277 more book reviews
Very interesting. I knew very little about Mormonism before reading this book. I am a big fan of Krakauer anyway, so I will read anything he writes.
reviewed Under the Banner of Heaven : A Story of Violent Faith on + 307 more book reviews
Indepth study of the Mormon faith. How did one man begin from scratch a new religion that is estimate to have over 300 million followers by 2010? How the elders coped, or didn't, with all their subjects receiving personal messages from their god, and the abhorrent acts committed in that god's name. The men and the myths revealed, along with explanations of some of the differences between the mainstream followers and the fundamentalists who insist on keeping to the most anti-social and frowned upon aspects of the Mormon religion. Part history, part social study, part true life crime.
reviewed Under the Banner of Heaven : A Story of Violent Faith on + 95 more book reviews
Plenty of history on the Mormons. Very interesting.
reviewed Under the Banner of Heaven : A Story of Violent Faith on + 136 more book reviews
This book was incredible. I did not know if I was going to like it or not, but, you just have to read it. I cannot beleive this actually goes on in America today.
reviewed Under the Banner of Heaven : A Story of Violent Faith on + 44 more book reviews
A fascinating history of America, Mormondom, and fanatacism. Disturbing, revealing, and engrossing.
reviewed Under the Banner of Heaven : A Story of Violent Faith on + 2 more book reviews
Jon Krakauer is great to read and pulls no punches in this controversial book.
reviewed Under the Banner of Heaven : A Story of Violent Faith on + 16 more book reviews
Fascinating book, some of the history I found a little bit tedious...but that's just me. Overall, a very interesting account of the "American Religion".
reviewed Under the Banner of Heaven : A Story of Violent Faith on + 8 more book reviews
Great story of the Mormon religion. I enjoy Jon Krakauer's writing style.
reviewed Under the Banner of Heaven : A Story of Violent Faith on + 65 more book reviews
a wonderful read
reviewed Under the Banner of Heaven : A Story of Violent Faith on + 28 more book reviews
interesting book.
reviewed Under the Banner of Heaven : A Story of Violent Faith on + 6 more book reviews
Interesting and alarming book on some truly scary people.
reviewed Under the Banner of Heaven : A Story of Violent Faith on + 354 more book reviews
COULDN'T GET INTO IT,SO GONNA PUT IT BACK OUT THERE FOR SOMEONE ELSE.