Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith – Jon Krakauer
Genre: Non-fiction; Religion; History; Mormonism
Summary: As the title suggests, Under the Banner of Heaven investigates violent acts of faith perpetrated by radical Mormon Fundamentalists. In his exploration, Krakauer also provides the reader with a history of the Mormon faith, highlighting significant people and events, while also identifying the places in which extremists began to splinter off from the mainstream Mormon faith.
Review: Overall, I found this book to be extremely interesting and a thorough examination of Mormon history, especially as it relates to the small sect of individuals who take their faith to the extreme and commit acts of violence.
Going into this book, I only knew the basics about Mormonism, and I had absolutely no idea about all of the violence associated with some of the people in the faith. It was really interesting to get a glimpse at the history of Mormonism, the important people within the religion, and the ongoing debate with polygamy. In the same vein, it was also interesting, yet extremely sad, to read about the people on the fringe who took their beliefs to violent extremes in the name of their God.
The stories contained within the book were incredibly compelling, albeit terrifying at times, and the events surrounding the Lafferty brothers were especially poignant. The way in which they discussed the murders they perpetrated after the fact was incredibly heartrending, indeed, and it was amazing to me that they really felt compelled by a higher power to carry out their atrocious acts.
The writing itself was a bit dry at times, but that tends to happen when one is reading a book presenting historical facts. The action in the rest of the book more than made up for these few instances, however, and I flipped through the pages eagerly when something in particular sparked my interest.
If you have an interest in radical Mormonism or religious violence, definitely give Under The Banner of Heaven a try.
Other Books by Jon Krakauer: Into Thin Air, Into the Wild, Where Men Win Glory