Angela's Reviews > Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith

Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
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May 01, 12


This is a book about Ron and Dan Lafferty, two brothers who murdered their sister-in-law and 15-month-old niece on pioneer day in 1984. I was eight years old that year, so these events almost happened before my time, but Jon Krakauer recounts the events of that day with such detail and precision that it all felt very real.

He examines not only the events leading up to the murders of Brenda Lafferty and her daughter, but he also looks at the core beliefs the Lafferty brothers had which led to the slaughter of their own family members: personal revelation, blood atonement, and faith in religious fundamentalism.

This book has some disturbing things in it, so I wouldn't recommend it to the faint of heart. Nor would I recommend it to those who fear questioning the underpinnings of Mormonism. But for anyone who truly wants to hold history and doctrine under a microscope in order to determine what it's made of, this is a fascinating read. It really made me think.
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Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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message 1: by Jeb (new)

Jeb Too bad the book is too full of factual inaccuracies about Mormonism and Mormon history to be taken seriously.


message 2: by Angela (last edited May 02, 2012 02:48PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angela Have you read the book, Jeb?

I found that what Mr. Krakauer wrote was quite well researched and fair. He does a good job of distinguishing between the FLDS and the LDS and delves into some touchy issues which, while important, are often not talked about in church.


message 3: by Jeb (last edited May 02, 2012 11:26AM) (new)

Jeb Not well researched, not fair, not even honest. He completely mangles the Josiah Stowell trial. He pins the attempted assassination of Governor Boggs on Porter Rockwell without the least bit of evidence. He just lies about Brigham Young's letter related to the MMM. Cites Lorin Woolley's fantastical tale as fact. Accuses the Church of hiding forged documents bought from Mark Hoffman, when in fact it covered them in church magazines. I could go on, but you get the drift.


message 4: by Angela (last edited May 02, 2012 01:13PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angela Well, you are certainly entitled to your opinion. I, however, am much more inclined to take Mr. Krakauer's interpretation of events into consideration whether or not the detail of every point he makes is proven 100% factual because:

1.) The overall message is relevant and well thought out.

2.) He examines past and present doctrines and philosophies which are often overlooked, ignored, or swept under the rug, but which matter nevertheless.

3.) He uses his real name and doesn't claim to be someone who he isn't. In fact, he has a section at the end of the book where he clarifies his personal views about God.

As far as #3, I admit that I have a very hard time trusting a commenter on my goodreads page who has no picture, no last name, has reviewed no books and apparently joined goodreads in May. Since this is May 2nd, I have some pretty legitimate reasons to wonder if the sole reason you joined goodreads was to comment on this thread under a fake name.

Perhaps you should prove me wrong by writing your own review of this book for the world to see using your full name and an updated picture of yourself.


message 5: by Jeb (new)

Jeb My identity is not relevant to the accuracy of Krakauer's book. You don't need to trust me. It's quite easy to check the veracity of his claims. If you don't wish to that's fine.


message 6: by Angela (last edited May 02, 2012 04:52PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Angela I wrote a really long response to your last comment, but my son just erased it. I guess that's what I get for leaving the room for five minutes. But the crux of it was this:

The Mountain Meadows Massacre happened regardless of whether you want to quibble over the details.

The Mark Hoffman scandal happened regardless of whether you want to quibble over the details.

The assassination attempt on Governor Boggs is pretty widely accepted as the work of Porter Rockwell whether or not you want to dismiss John C. Bennett and William Law as credible witnesses due to their leaving the church (but since you've already said "identity is not relevant," I assume that means you won't dismiss their story.)

And the author of this book does not present the Woolley tale in a vacuum. Instead he examines different premises and presents all sides. I will concede that he doesn't get 100% of his facts exactly right, but considering he's a story teller rather than a historian (and a non-Mormon story teller at that) he does a pretty good job.

The fact that he, personally, comes to a conclusion you don't like, doesn't make most of the facts he presents inaccurate. Whether or not Brigham Young ordered the massacre of the Fancher party isn't even the point of the Mountain Meadows Massacre chapter.

Cherry picking a handful of facts that are slightly off, or which happen to be a bit controversial in an effort to prove that a story is "too full of factual inaccuracies about Mormonism and Mormon history to be taken seriously," is the perfect way to throw the baby out with the bathwater. And reading a few negative, scholarly reviews on a book isn't a substitute for actually reading the book.

Here's Mr. Krakauer's response to one critical review of his book put out by the LDS newsroom: http://www.randomhouse.com/features/k...


message 7: by Sharon (new)

Sharon I read all 6 comments and the link posted here. I think there are good reasons organizations are sensitive to outside review. There are good reasons outsiders can be curious about organizations they really do not affiliate with or ascribe to. The other comment I have is to mention ritual abuse. I'm no expert but it is a category of abuse described in "Confronting Abuse, An LDS Perspective." Most people know that there are unhealthy and ignorant and tortured people who, in their own adulthood, perpetuate or (re)invent practices that are disgusting and harmful. Children, women and the handicapped are typically victims. Further, there is no end to "historical justifications" that are twisted and false. I probably won't read "Under the Banner of Heaven" because murders don't fascinate me under most circumstances, including those labeled worthy, such as "casualties" of war. Thanks, Angela, for reviewing: I appreciate summaries of books I'll probably not read. Mark Stephenson posts well thought out and written Goodread reviews, I think. I hope you're connected!


Angela I love Uncle Marks reviews. He's a voracious reader.


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