Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith - Jon Krakauer

The Basics: Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, Jon Krakauer, 2003, 372 pages, hardcover

How I found it: I have read two of Krakauer's other books (Into the Wild and Into Thin Air) both of which were quite interesting and well-written. When I saw a recommendation for this one on a book review thread for Into Thin Air, I got it from the local library.

What's it about: This book is about Mormons. It is mostly about how a break-away sect of fundamentalist Mormons got crazy-violent in the early 80s, but it is also about the history of Mormonism and fundamentalist Mormonism and the role of polygamy in the Mormon church. For those of you from BC always seeing the town of Bountiful on the news, there is a section on that too.

Did I like it?: I really liked this book. I know next to nothing about Mormonism (which is similar to my knowledge on any other Christian sect), so it was fascinating to find out what the religion is about and how much truth there is to those polygamy rumours. The examination of the violent aspects of the faith, including the Lafferty murders and the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping was well done too. The book was written like a long magazine article, or a series of magazine articles (which I guess is what Krakauer specializes in, so no big surprise there). I was really surprised that I couldn't put this book down.

Will you like it?: If you've heard about fundamentalist Mormons on the news you should read this book. It explains the background to all those polygamous and violent incidents in a fascinating way. For a non-fiction book, this was a great read.

But don't take my word for it: Mostly positive reviews from Amazon.ca readers, the New York Times review, one from the Christian Science Monitor, and one from the Washington Post.

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