Under the Banner of Heaven

  • by Jon Krakauer
  • Narrated by Scott Brick
  • 12 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

At the core of this 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.


What the Critics Say

"Krakauer lays the portent on beautifully, building his tales carefully from the ground up until they irresistibly, spookily combust." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Krakauer presents details that indeed sound stranger than fiction." (The New York Times)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


All Religions
I first read this in 2003 after it first came out. I talked about it so much, that my wife asked to listen to it. Writing about religion has got to be one of the hardest things to do without upsetting someone. Krakauer does occasionally call the Mormon religion, strange or something similar. You would think a good editor would have omitted that. I also had to keep in mind that most religions can be easily made to look strange. I remember teaching a middle school class at my Methodist Church and talking about the Resurrection, when one of the kids, said "Yuck,Jesus was a Zombie". Than of course the sacrament, where we supposedly eat of Jesus's body and drink his blood.

That Being Said
I have always been one to let people do as they want as long as they don't hurt others. That is were the break apart Fundamentalist's of this religion become a problem. Here in America, girls as young as twelve are being raped and made pregnant. Women are beaten and abused. Freedom of religion is one thing, freedom to rape and abuse children must be stopped. Sam Brower has written a follow up book called Prophet's Prey, which is even more revealing and discusses the abandoning of little boys, so as to have more girls to rape.
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- Jim "The Impatient"

Interesting @ arm's length

As an outsider, it's often easy to make assumptions about a religion's morality and values. But looking beyond the inflamatory language that the author resorts to in certain areas of the book (indicating his biases), I found this book to be quite insightful and informative about the history behind the LDS and FLDS faiths, as well as the geographical and logistical aspects of their beliefs/practices. It is very evident that the author has done extensive research for this book, and does a good job providing historical background information to shed light on present practices/situations. From my own protestant christian upbringing, I had a very limited perspective/understanding of the LDS faith, and I think this book helped to clarify many points. I found other areas of the book quite disturbing and struggled to keep in mind that the actions of individuals within a religion do not necessarily reflect the morals of the whole. Written as a scholarly approach toward something like religion (which is ultimately "irrationally" based), I think the author does a pretty good job trying to be informative rather than judgemental. The one downfall of the audiobook is that it does not include the bibliography, footnotes, and appendecis that are contained in the hard-copy. Included in these was a letter from the head of the LDS with their assessment of the book, and a then a counter response from the author with clarifications/corrections and closing arguments.
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- pixychild

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-11-2003
  • Publisher: Random House Audio