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

Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
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Aug 21, 12

Read in August, 2012

A very interesting book that not only discussing one horrendous crime but looks back at the entire history of Mormonism. I learned a lot about a part of our nation's history that I knew very little about. It also grieved my spirit so much to see people so very deceived, people calling themselves "righteous" when involved in fraud, lying, plural marriages, sexual abuse, and incest.

Sometimes as I read the chapters, I'd get a little confused on all the names, but I kept the major players straight. A list of names at the back of the book might help, especially since Krakauer likes to skip back and forth in time. It keeps the book interesting and shows the unity in thought between Fundamentalist Mormons who lived at different times, but it sometimes left me wondering, "Who was that guy again?" At the end of the book, Krakauer cites what his sources were chapter by chapter. There is also an extensive bibliography and an index, making this more than just a true-crime book but a source of historical facts.

Each chapter started with intriguing and insightful quotations from other books about religion or Mormonism. Some of those quotes criticize any and all faith, and the book ends with an interviwe from a former Mormon who is now an atheist. This reminded me of how Krakauer included in I thought it interesting that Krakauer included in his book Into the Wild an interview with a Bible-believer who ends up rejecting God when the young man he'd befriended died in Alaska. It seems that Krakauer is intrigued by religion but opposed to it; he refers to faith several times in the book as being something that is opposed to reason. Don't get me wrong, though; his book is thoughtful, interesting, and well-researched and not written to vilify believers. I wasn't offended by his tone (as I am with some authors), although the content - the description of Mormon doctrine and behavior - was troubling to me. Especially when read in the context of Escape it is heart-rending to think of those trapped in Fundamentalist Mormonism which sees itself as holy but is often abusive and destructive.
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