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Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith

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UPC: 9781400032808
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Authors: Jon Krakauer

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of Into the Wild and Into Thin Air, this extraordinary work of investigative journalism takes readers inside America’s isolated Mormon Fundamentalist communities. Now an FX limited series streaming on HULU.

“Fantastic.... Right up there with In Cold Blood and The Executioner’s Song.” —San Francisco Chronicle

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; some 40,000 people still practice polygamy in these communities. 

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.

 

Review

“Scrupulously reported and written with Krakauer’s usual exacting flair, Under the Banner of Heaven is both illuminating and thrilling. It is also the creepiest book anyone has written in a long time—and that’s meant as the highest possible praise.” —Newsweek

“Fantastic. . . . Right up there with 
In Cold Blood and The Executioner’s Song.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Powerfully illuminating. . . . Almost every section of the book is fascinating in its own right, and together the chapters make a rich picture. . . . An arresting portrait of depravity.” —The New York Times Book Review

“This year’s most audacious work of nonfiction. . . . A white-knuckle mix of true-crime reporting and provocative history.” —
New York Post

“Krakauer writes with almost astonishing narrative force. It is hard to stop reading.” —The Baltimore Sun

“Stunningly researched. . . . Elegant reportage. . . . An evenhanded inquiry into the nature of religious belief itself.” —Newsday

“Captivating. . . . Fascinating and appalling. . . . [Krakauer] should be applauded—and read.” —The San Diego Union-Tribune

“A great book. . . . Krakauer has found a fascinating story in plain sight, right in the heart of the American West, and told it with the narrative drive and unflinching honesty that marked his 1998 best seller, Into Thin Air.” —The Oregonian

“Jon Krakauer is at his provocative best.” —The New Orleans Times-Picayune

“A fascinating page-turner. . . . Engrossing. . . . Krakauer’s knack for crackling narrative and taut focus . . . drives this thought-provoking story.” —The Columbus Dispatch

“A hair-raising true-crimer.” —Chicago Sun-Times

“Terrifying. . . . Startling. . . . Mov[es] deftly between past and present [and] provides a fascinating glimpse of the church today.” —The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“A powerful portrait of how two seemingly ordinary Americans became murderers.” —The Economist

“Illuminating . . . provocative. . . . Krakauer is an adept chronicler of extremists [and] the tour guide of choice for secular quests.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Marvelous. . . . A departure from Into Thin Air and Into the Wild . . . but every bit as engrossing.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Well-researched and evenhanded. . . . Thought-provoking.” —USA Today

“Startling. . . . Timely. . . . Krakauer uncovers a ghastly trail of forced marriage, polygamy, violence and mind control. . . . A chilling look at Mormon fundamentalism.” —The Charlotte Observer

“Horrific, gripping. . . . Soberly written and courageously reported.” —Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

“Engrossing. . . . Incisive. . . . [Krakauer is] a very careful reporter. . . . His clear-headed, unbiased examination of the church—leavened with genuine respect—and his conclusions . . . are hard to argue with.” —Boulder Daily Camera

“One hell of a chilling read.” —Maxim

“Compelling. . . . Provocative. . . . Illuminating. . . . A gripping tale.” —The Christian Science Monitor

“A disturbing picture of Mormon fundamentalists. . . . Krakauer’s straightforward style and excellent storytelling ability make the book interesting.” —Rocky Mountain News

“A terrific read.” —Reader’s Digest

“Riveting. . . . Intriguing. . . . Breezy, smooth and vigorously written, this ambitious book is entertaining and informative. . . . Krakauer reconstructs the Lafferty brothers’ descent into fatal fanaticism magnificently, interweaving their story throughout the book and giving this wide-ranging work narrative coherence and emotional resonance. . . . [He is] a superb storyteller.” —The News & Observer

“A powerful look at how religious belief can cross the line into fanaticism.” —San Jose Mercury News

From the Inside Flap

Jon Krakauer?s literary reputation rests on insightful chronicles of lives conducted at the outer limits. In UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN, he shifts his focus from extremes of physical adventure to extremes of religious belief within our own borders. At the core of his book is an appalling double murder committed by two Mormon Fundamentalist brothers, Ron and Dan Lafferty, who insist they received a revelation from God commanding them to kill their blameless victims. Beginning with a meticulously researched account of this?divinely inspired? crime, Krakauer constructs a multilayered, bone-chilling narrative of messianic delusion,savage violence, polygamy, 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.

Krakauer takes readers inside isolated communities in the American West, Canada, and
Mexico, where some forty-thousand Mormon Fundamentalists believe the mainstream Mormon Church went unforgivably astray when it renounced polygamy. Defying both civil authorities and the Mormon establishment in Salt Lake City, the leaders of these outlaw sects are zealots who answer only to God. Marrying prodigiously and with virtual impunity (the leader of the largest fundamentalist church took seventy-five ?plural wives,? several of whom were wed to him when they were fourteen or fifteen and he was in his eighties), fundamentalist prophets exercise absolute control over the lives of their followers, and preach that any day now the world will be swept clean in a hurricane of fire, sparing only their most obedient adherents.

Weaving the story of the Lafferty brothers and their fanatical brethren with a clear-eyed look at Mormonism?s violent past, Krakauer examines the underbelly of the most successful homegrown faith in the United States, and finds a distinctly American brand of religious extremism. The result is vintage Krakauer, an utterly compelling work of nonfiction that illuminates an otherwise confounding realm of human behavior.