Krakauer’s book about Mormon fundamentalism begins with the story of the Lafferty boys and the violent murder of Brenda Lafferty and her young daughte...moreKrakauer’s book about Mormon fundamentalism begins with the story of the Lafferty boys and the violent murder of Brenda Lafferty and her young daughter, Erica, on July 24, 1984 two of the Lafferty boys committed. The two brothers claim they were ordered by God to kill their sister-in-law and niece, and both align them with a fundamentalist, break-away sect of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as Mormons), the fastest growing religion in the world. (Because the two are not apart of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it would not be correct to identity them as FLDS.) Drawing from this fact, Krakauer delves into the development of this “American religion” and the, often troublesome, history of the religion founded by Joseph Smith.
When I first picked up Krakauer’s book, I was a little apprehensive about how much the narrative rests on a single, gruesome murder, and I honestly did not see the connection between the murder and Mormon fundamentalism. But I found the book to be a very interesting examination both of what religious extremism does the psyche and the history of this religion.
A simply chilling, if unsympathetic, look at Mormon faith, the conflict between Mormons and Gentiles (read all non-Mormons, including Jews) and between the upper echelon of LDS leaders and U.S. government completely fascinated me. As for Mormon fundamentalists, Krakauer likens them to the proverbial uncle everyone avoids at family functions — the one that should not be heard and not seen. He manged to maintain a distinguish between LDS and FLDS (as well as other fundamentalist sects), in my opinion, but he does draw a thread through his discussion of the church’s history and theology that connects its underlining of direct communication with God and charismatic leadership with the manifestations of particular elements in fundamentalist Mormon communities that makes it easy to understand why the fundamentalists appear more like the crazy uncle than a completely different religion.
Despite skipping a few pages here and there that dealt more with the Lafferty brothers and their villainous act, I found Krakauer’s book to very interesting. Rather than concentrating on polygamy like other nonfiction books covering Mormon fundamentalist, Krakauer covers the shared history between the two groups and how FLDS can still be considered “Mormon”.(less)
I found the first 100 or so pages to find very funny. Not in a poking-fun-of-religion funny, but funny in the way Jacobs presented his journey. After...moreI found the first 100 or so pages to find very funny. Not in a poking-fun-of-religion funny, but funny in the way Jacobs presented his journey. After all, to go from shaving everyday to growing your beard out to your chest is bound to present some humorous material. It’s until Jacobs and his wife takes the instruction to “be fruitful and multiple” seriously that the humor stops because the way he talks about his wife (and his son) isn’t comical.
Jacobs picks and chooses what rules to follow and when to follow them; a decision he says reflects modern-day Christianity and Judaism because even Hasidic Jews and fundamentalist Christians pick and choose what to follow. That maybe be true, but it's also in contrast with his goal – to follow the Bible literally and document his journey. As a self-described workaholic, Jacobs is unable to keep basic rules such as keeping the Sabbath, and while I know that keeping all 700-plus rules must be an insurmountable attack, I started to feel as though this journey became more and more about his parenting skills and his interactions with his son, Jasper. This is especially true after he reached the New Testament because he begins to talk more and more about becoming/being a father to twin boys. Plus, there’s quite a bit of boasting about how he wrote a book studying the encyclopedia from A to Z, and complaining about the fact that people have written negative reviews of The Know-It-All, which lowers his rating on Amazon.
An interesting premise that includes trips to visit the Amish and an ex-uncle that became an Orthodox Jew after experimenting with every other religion, but one that ultimately fell on its face. (less)
I read Levitt and Dubner's first book, Freakonomics, in March 2008, and I absolutely loved it. I thought it was ingenious, witty, and made economics i...moreI read Levitt and Dubner's first book, Freakonomics, in March 2008, and I absolutely loved it. I thought it was ingenious, witty, and made economics interesting for the Average Joe who doesn't find this particular field as fascinating as I do. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that when the "sequel" to the book hit the shelves in October 2009 I would immediately add it to The List.
SuperFreakonomics -- subtitled "Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance" -- covers everything in the subtitle and then some, including child car seats, drunk walkers, emergency rooms in America, volcano eruptions, chemotherapy, and why you don't want to be born nine months after Ramadan.
My first reaction when I finished this book was I'm still not quite sure how prostitutes are patriotic. No, really, I don't understand. And somehow discussion of terrorism can lead to discussions about the syncing of medical data on computers and how to rate and rank doctos, which then leads to emphasis on the timing of your birth and the importance of the first letter of your last name, only to be rounded out with a British banker who created an algorithm to find terrorists based on their banking habits and why terrorist should buy life insurance. The book is comprised of one tangent after another that are thinly stringed together; it reads more like anecdotes or bits of each graduate student's research.
There is a chapter focusing on a Seattle man who says that the way to prevent hurricanes were to warm the ocean in the context of unintended consequences. However, wouldn't warming the temperature of the ocean have unintended consequences that would most likely exceed its benefits? That's never discussed in the chapter. When discussing the introduction of seat belts into cars, Levitt and Dubner ignore the probability that air bags, safer car exteriors, safer auto glass, etc might have had some influence on the decline in the car accident related deaths.
Everything else I've already forgotten seven hours later, which means this book was a sore disappointment.(less)