La Petite Américaine's Reviews > Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith

Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
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's review
Sep 12, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: kicked_ass
Recommended for: The Non-Squeamish
Read in June, 2003

Martin Harris "Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb," Lucy Harris, "Smart, smart, smart, smart, smart." Heehee. I love you, South Park.

This book scared the living crap out of me. As Americans we're terrified (and rightly so, if you ask me) Middle Eastern culture, where extremism causes sexually frustrated men to take multiple wives while using religion as their validation for violence. Scary as hell. Yet it happens in our own backyards in the form of Fundamental Mormonism, and it's treated as a small inconvenience.

The stories former FLDS members who describe incest, kidnapping, rape, and molestation in the FDLS church have stayed with me for over 5 years since reading this book. Then,
my ears perked up when the FLDS church in Texas was raided last April, and 400+ children removed due to sexual abuse allegations. Two months later, the kids are given back. Heh. Texas justice? I think not.

Someone should send the Texas judges this gripping/frightening read that just happens to be a true story ... maybe they'd think twice before handing children back to extremists.

For the rest of us, mega-informative.
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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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Leslie I agree-100%. Those kids deserve to be protected. And if the "church" cares so much about their kids, then why are there "lost boys", the boys they kick out so the old men won't have as much competition for the girls. They drop them off on the side of the road when they are 15, 16 years old, with a little money in their pockets and they are on their own. It's horrible.
You might like The Nineteenth Wife. I liked it a lot.

La Petite Américaine I'll have to check it out.

I really love Krakauer's writing, and all of his books I'd read before this one had me convinced of his integrity as a writer/journalist. I was nervous about picking up this one because I wasn't sure that anyone could diplomatically write about a religion, but I think he did a great job, especially by sticking mainly to the facts.

Leslie I like Krakauer a lot too, it's like you said, it feels like I'm reading a book by a person of integrity. I think this one is my favorite, probably because it deals with a subject I was already interested in. I've read several memoirs by women who were involved in polygamy. It's pretty horrible, and it is pretty much just swept under the rug. From what I've read about polygamy, it doesn't seem possible to practice without quickly slipping into all kinds of abuses. Somehow it's intrinsic to the whole concept. It's so much more than one man having more than one wife, all of which are adults. It always turns out to be so much more. The leaders of these break off groups are tyrants, running the people's lives down to the tiniest detail and killing rival leaders. I read one book by this lady who's father was killed that way. It makes me mad when men find another way to use "God" to oppress women!

message 4: by K (new) - rated it 3 stars

K It was interesting to read your review and comments. I read this book several years ago. I remember that I had a hard time putting it down, but I also remember feeling that the author had a bias which came through. It's hard to say this without sounding like I approve of the FDLS lifestyle and behavior, which I don't -- at all -- but somehow the book felt less than fully objective to me and a little sensationalist.

message 5: by La Petite Américaine (last edited Sep 15, 2008 01:33PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

La Petite Américaine I think it's probably impossible to write about religion (or anything, for that matter) without having a little bias coming through. I really appreciated how he dealt with the religion as a whole: those of us who aren't Mormon easily write off their religion as _______________ (fill in the blank.) I'm sorry, I think it's ridiculous to believe that an American man found some ancient Egyptian tablets in upstate New York, was visited by an angel with an Italian name, etc. Yet, as Krakauer pointed out, Catholics like myself, subscribe to the belief that a man turned water in to wine, walked on water, raised the dead, died, and then came back to life 3 days later. I definitely didn't find it sensationalist. I got more pissed off when he described how they take advantage of the welfare system, abuse kids, and break the law and get away with it.

His next book is coming out soon, it's called Hero and it about that football player Tillman (sp?) who gave up his NFL career after 9/11 to join the military and was killed in Afghanistan. I'm curious to read that book ... I think it's going to be a touchy issue....

message 6: by K (new) - rated it 3 stars

K I hear what you're saying. I guess it comes down to whether our "irrational" beliefs encourage moral or amoral behavior. And even that can be a gray area -- is the behavior truly amoral? And to what extent is the belief responsible for the behavior?

A lot of people liked another book of his -- "Into the Wild," I think it was called.

La Petite Américaine I LOVED Into the Wild. I'm from Alaska, so it was even more meaningful to me, I knew a lot of the places that were written about in the book. I really liked Into Thin Air, too. I think he's a great author.

message 8: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn Heinze So glad you liked this one. Scared the hell out of me when I read it a few years ago after traveling in the BC interior and learning about a Mormon trading ring where they 'smuggle' brides over the border for 'celestial marriages.' Still meaning to read Into the Wild. I like Krakauer's style, and find that he's one of those dangerous authors that you can't put down until you read the whole book.

La Petite Américaine Yeah, I canceled a lesson with one of my private students when I was reading Into Thin Air. heehee. oops. so not my fault. :)

message 10: by Megan (new)

Megan Carolyn, that was not a Mormon trading group. They are no more Mormons than you are. They are fundamentalists.

If you want to really know what Mormons believe read some of the LDS publications. Go to our website..

I also read that someone thought the Book of Mormon came from ancient Egyptian plates? Not true. They were actually a record of the people who lived here in the Americas. You should read it. Even if you don't believe it, it's an interesting read :)

Sarah I realize you read & reviewed this book several years ago, but you might be interested in "Prophet's Prey" by Sam Brower with Jon Krakauer.

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