Under the Banner of Heaven

Under the Banner of Heaven

A Story of Violent Faith

Book - 2004
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Feb 21, 2020

If you want to take an in depth, well-researched look into the origins of Mormonism, this book is a good source. The author adequately and masterfully shows the disturbing undercurrents of violence of the early Mormons flowing directly into the violence of some contemporary Mormon Fundamentalists. There is an undeniable unbroken chain of determined entitled belief leading to behavior so outside of the norms of civil society everywhere, as to not only be illegal and unethical, but incredibly shocking and sinful. But the Mormon god commands these atrocities, and we are left with child brides; shattered homes; and murdered men, women, and children.

Where the book digresses and spoils its otherwise excellent treatise; is the author's drawing of parallels between all fundamentalists of any belief system. The very existence of belief in God seems to sit ill-at-ease with the author, and "they are all the same," seems to be his personal bias. If you can step over those occasional clumsy blocks in the road, the book is otherwise an outstanding journey of necessary hard truths.

Oct 09, 2019

Chose this book because I had read and loved the author's previous books and also because I had just read Educated. Excellent research; fascinating reporting; sad and repugnant events. Well worth reading.
Jessie May Keller

Feb 16, 2019

Examined every disturbing piece.

Jul 04, 2018

One of the finest true crime--if not nonfiction--books ever written, period.

Jun 14, 2018

Ostensibly an account of a 1984 grisly murder in a Utah community, by alternating chapters of the present with those of the past Krakauer also provides a detailed history of the Mormon faith and its connection to the crime.

This book is simultaneously educational and horrifying. My heart breaks for the FLDS women, whose sole value in life and in their communities is as reproductive chattel. It also caused me to wonder any number of times throughout the text how anyone practicing religion can describe the more outlandish tenets and history of their faith with a straight face.

These two unrelated quotes in particular are worth mulling over:
"Although the prophecy of this father, Uncle Rulon, that the world would be swept clean in a hurricane of fire by the year 2000 did not come to pass, the events of September 11, 2001, have renewed Warren's [Jeffs] optimism."

"I remember wondering about contradictions between what the religion taught and scientific truth. But Uncle Roy told us that the way to handle that was just to avoid asking certain kinds of questions. So I trained myself to ignore the contradictions."

Apr 23, 2018


mko123 Apr 05, 2018

If you liked Education, by Tamara Westover, read this for a deeper understanding of religious fanaticism. The modern day fanatics in this book demand absolute obedience from their followers. Their out-of-control narcissism knows no bounds, even to the point where they are willing to assault their own wives and children. A senseless murder that is at the core of this story. The mystery is not who, but what kind of a twisted thinking and rage could lead to this.

Feb 24, 2018

Good journalistic writing, but too long.

CRRL_MegRaymond Feb 21, 2018

Two fundamentalist Mormon brothers claimed that they committed murder under direct orders from God.

Aug 01, 2017

Terrifying look into how religion and belief can be twisted and used. In a religious belief system where everyone can and does talk directly to God and God can and does talk back, what happens when one person gets a message from God to kill and another person gets a message from God to not kill? Who's right? Who determines who's right?

I think it says a lot about critical thinking and thinking for oneself. An important lesson in today's world of instant news and no follow up.

JCLBrentW Jul 17, 2017

A gripping tale. Eye-opening background on the Mormon church.

Sep 08, 2016

A name intensive book - as usual Krakauer has done his homework and taught the reader loads on a religion that has surpassed Judaism by number of people. If you live in the US, and faith maintains an active role in your life, I would encourage you to read this book. Crazy to see how a US-centric view of God and man caught hold in the second great awakening as Mormonism did.

Aug 13, 2016

Provides history of the mormon church set against a backdrop of a gruesome murder. Found this book to be very entertaining and informative. It has opened my eyes to mormonism and the cult that it is...

Aug 12, 2016

I admit it was a struggle to write this review due to the fact I have so many Mormon friends. In no way do I want to offend them. Who am I to judge or criticize someone's beliefs? I mean, I grew up with teachings of God speaking through burning bushes, a man's superpower strength stemming from his long hair, and even the fact that God gave a mere mortal the ability to part the Red Sea. Krakauer did an excellent, well-researched job in explaining the differences between the FLDS and LDS religions and also explains the two religion's shared past. Read my full review on this and other books at www.booklovinalicia.blogspot.com

Oct 06, 2015

Krakauer uses the murders by two brothers of a woman and her daughter as the focal point to explore the religious precepts of Mormon founder Joseph Smith and whose credo is practiced by FLDS Leader Warren Jeffs. Krakauer contrasts the FLDS to the mainstream Mormon Church and its denouncement of the FLDS.

Nov 17, 2014

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

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

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.

Lauraparr Apr 22, 2014

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 10, 2013

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

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!

csbryant Jun 12, 2011

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

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.

Oct 15, 2010

Great book. Very interesting. Covers the history of the Mormon faith as well as the extreme fundamentalist Mormons.

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