Friday, 20 May 2011

Krakauer, Jon "Under the Banner of Heaven"

Krakauer, Jon "Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith" - 2003

This had been one of our book club suggestions a couple of years ago and I finally managed to read it. I had read "Escape" by Carolyn Jessop earlier and although that is a later book it did help in understanding this one a little better.

The writing style wasn't very inviting, it was a non-fiction book that tried to be written like a novel. But it wasn't. The author jumped around a lot and it was hard to follow him at times when he continued a story he had started several chapters before. Many many names which I usually don't mind that much. Maybe it's harder because I'm not American or maybe I was expecting a report more than just a citation of facts, I don't know, it just wasn't what I expected.

This book hasn't answered any questions anyone might have about Mormons and especially the fundamentalists who live in polygamy and listen to God, e.g. he talks about these brothers who go out and kill a woman and her baby after a revelation they received from God. This is where he could have started, well, this is where he started but then he jumps back and forth to the Book of Mormon, to Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, to massacres between the Mormons or Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Paiute Indians, just to name a few examples.

A book that promised to be so interesting, yet I didn't find it so.

From the back cover:
"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.

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