Jon Krakauer is the author of Eiger Dreams, Into the Wild, and Into Thin Air, and is editor of the Modern Library Exploration series. He lives in the USA.
Having taken listeners on an unforgettable trip to the top of Mt. Everest in his best-selling Into Thin Air, Krakauer now makes a major departure. Under the Banner of Heaven is a no-holds-barred look at the darker side of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more commonly known as Mormons. Using the murder of a woman and her infant daughter as a focal point, Krakauer traces the bloody history of the Mormon religion from its conception with Joseph Smith right through to its present-day assertion that the World Trade Center tragedy was a clear sign that the end of the world is near. Reader Scott Brick does a wonderful job in presenting the material in a clear, modulated performance that greatly adds to the narrative, holding the listener's interest from the very beginning. This book will antagonize Mormon library patrons, but it's a story that needs to be told. Highly recommended for all libraries.-Joseph L. Carlson, Allan Hancock Coll., Lompoc, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
A provocative look at the twisted roots of American fundamentalism.
-- Will Self * Evening Standard Books of the Year *
Excellent . . . a lucid, judicious, even sympathetic account not just of Mormon Fundamentalism but of the seductive power of fanaticism in general. * Daily Telegraph *
Remarkable . . . for anyone interested in the wilder frontiers of spiritual conviction, this book is a must. * Independent *
Using as a focal point the chilling story of offshoot Mormon fundamentalist brothers Dan and Ron Lafferty, who in 1984 brutally butchered their sister-in-law and 15-month-old niece in the name of a divine revelation, Krakauer explores what he sees as the nature of radical Mormon sects with Svengali-like leaders. Using mostly secondary historical texts and some contemporary primary sources, Krakauer compellingly details the history of the Mormon church from its early 19th-century creation by Joseph Smith (whom Krakauer describes as a convicted con man) to its violent journey from upstate New York to the Midwest and finally Utah, where, after the 1890 renunciation of the church's holy doctrine sanctioning multiple marriages, it transformed itself into one of the world's fastest-growing religions. Through interviews with family members and an unremorseful Dan Lafferty (who is currently serving a life sentence), Krakauer chronologically tracks what led to the double murder, from the brothers' theological misgivings about the Mormon church to starting their own fundamentalist sect that relies on their direct communications with God to guide their actions. According to Dan's chilling step-by-step account, when their new religion led to Ron's divorce and both men's excommunication from the Mormon church, the brothers followed divine revelations and sought to kill, starting with their sister-in-law, those who stood in the way of their new beliefs. Relying on his strong journalistic and storytelling skills, Krakauer peppers the book with an array of disturbing firsthand accounts and news stories (such as the recent kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart) of physical and sexual brutality, which he sees as an outgrowth of some fundamentalists' belief in polygamy and the notion that every male speaks to God and can do God's bidding. While Krakauer demonstrates that most nonfundamentalist Mormons are community oriented, industrious and law-abiding, he poses some striking questions about the closed-minded, closed-door policies of the religion-and many religions in general. (July) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.