Under the Banner of Heaven

A Story of Violent Faith

Krakauer, Jon

Book - 2004
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Under the Banner of Heaven
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.

Publisher: New York : Anchor Books, 2004
Edition: 1st Anchor Books ed
ISBN: 1400032806
Branch Call Number: 289.33 K89u 2004
Characteristics: xxiii, 399 p. :,maps ;,21 cm


From Library Staff

Join the discussion on May 19, 2015. Using a crime committed by two brothers as a focal point, the author explores the nature of radical Mormon sects.

Krakauer is such a brilliant writer. Polygamy, murder, messianic complexes, and savage violence abound Disturbing, to say the least.

From the critics

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Nov 17, 2014
  • Persnickety77 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

You will get an excellent history of the Mormon faith, plus creepy polygamist tales. and a murder mystery. this book is riveting, and informative! excellent non-fiction.

Jul 03, 2014
  • Madreley rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Very interesting book on the Mormon Cult, author gives good solid history facts and does delve into his own opinions. Reading this should convince anyone that Mormonism is truely a man made cult, that is why they are so secrative about some of the rituals that go in within the cult. If you want to know some facts on the origin of the mormons then I suggest to read this book WITH an open mind.

Jun 05, 2014
  • elbayless rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

I am a big fan of Krakauer's prior books, especially Into Thin Air, and I am interested in the topic he setas forth in "Under the Banner of Heaven." While well written, this book failed to draw me in as much as his other books have. It was still interesting and worth the read, just not his best work.

Apr 22, 2014
  • Lauraparr rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I knew nothing about Mormonism when I picked up this book. However, it gives a clear history and evolution of the religion. I really appreciated the fact that testimonies come from both sides: pro and anti Mormons. Those who thrived within it but also those who suffered from it. A great insight into Mormonism and the impact it has in today's world.

Nov 19, 2013
  • michael503 rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

My first disappointment with one of Krakauer's books. Starts out pretty well, almost like In Cold Blood, but it drags after that. Probably not enough subject matter here to write a whole book. But, like Wallace Stegner said: “It is almost impossible to write fiction about the Mormons, for the reason that Mormon institutions and Mormon society are so peculiar that they call for constant explanation.”

Nov 10, 2013
  • InvernessS rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Read in 05, again 13 which makes it seem all the relevant. It's interesting to read reviews on Goodreads & notice which reviewers say it's junk. Should be read with an open mind & further research. Great job by respected author.

Apr 23, 2013
  • joliebergman rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I love this book.

Aug 06, 2012

Love Krakauer and this was so different from his other books I couldn't wait to read it. It's fascinating, disturbing and extremely educational. I highly recommend it!

Jun 12, 2011
  • csbryant rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith is about the true life murders of Brenda Lafferty and her 15-month daughter Erica at the hands of her brother-in-law who is in the clutches of a fundamental mormon sect, or at least that is what it is supposed to be about. Under the Banner of Heaven focused more on the background the Mormon religion and the events that led up to the fundamentalists splitting off. There was about one chapter regarding the Lafferty’s for every three chapters dealing with old-school Mormonism.

Since I was hoping to read a true-crime story, and not another book about the evils of Fundamentalism and how it began, I was disappointed with this book. If you are interested in reading about the early-days of Mormonism, this book would be a good place to start. It is well written and researched. The complicated events are explained with just enough detail so as not to be too vague nor too confusing.

Jun 11, 2011
  • Sarsypants rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I've always been fascinated by religious fundamentalism, having experienced it firsthand, so I found it really easy to get into this book. I appreciated learning more about the Mormon Church and the history of Mormonism. And the parallel story of the Lafferty brothers is so crazy as to be instantly compelling. However, some of the history sections drag on a bit. Could have used some more editing.

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Jun 05, 2014
  • elbayless rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

elbayless thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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