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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.
©2003 Jon Krakauer (P)2003 Books on Tape, Inc., Published by arrangement with Random House Audio Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"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
5 out of 5 stars
By Ashley on 04-06-06

Makes you think

I loved this book, both the story and narration. Scott Brick is a very relaxed reader, and doesn't try too hard to pull off voices.

I can understand why some would be offended by this book, and as a Christian there were some statements about religious people in general that bothered me. However, this book made me think, and is clearly not about mainstream mormons, but rather fundamentalists. The author isn't even "against" only mormon fundamentalists, but fundamentalists of all kinds.

This is well worth a listen

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31 of 33 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By pixychild on 07-17-09

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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48 of 52 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
1 out of 5 stars
By Miss K L Mugridge on 12-28-16

Not for me

It became a bit of a chore to listen to and I didn't complete the book in the end. I have learnt more about Mormons than I ever thought I would, but as I'd primarily downloaded the story for the true crime aspect, the book was not for me.

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5 out of 5 stars
By iris on 06-19-14

Fascinating Read

I really enjoyed this book as the author discussses the origins of the Mormons and explains many facts about this faith that I for one was ignorant of. The story ostensibly is about a particularly brutal murder perpetrated by a break-away Saint on his own brother's wife and child. This serves as a lead in to a book which is so much more than a 'true-crime' novel. I also liked the fact that the author although critical of the fundamental Mormons and their practice of polygamy he does not have any particular axe to grind against the Mormons and he gives a balanced and objective examination of this very American phenomenon. The crime took place around the start of the present century so some things may be dated but the more general discussion is still pertinent. I thought the narrator did a very good job. My only reproach is that the book seemd slightly disorganised and jumped around from subject to subject but it did not impair my enjoyment of the book as a whole.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Alex H on 03-11-16

Gripping and Addictive

This Audiobook was just plain amazing. The story was so interesting! I really like the story. It switched to different things throughout the book which kept things fresh. It explored the lives of many polygamous Mormon communities and the experiences of many of their adherents. It explored the foundations of Mormonism in general as well.

Although Polygamous Mormonism & Mainstream Mormonism have diverged over a century ago, the events played out in this book still informs the LDS Church today. The foundations of their religious beliefs, the lives of their prophets, as well as the early church's deeds and misdeeds are explored. Mormonism is quite a fascinating religion, very strange to any Christian who believes in the Bible (the Mormons believe in the Bible "as far as it is translated correctly" - translation: if it disagrees with the Book of Mormon & D&C then it hasn't been translated correctly). This book is very candid and the author is very honest about his opinion but he is also fair to both sides. This book is a necessary exploration into their history that many of the top brass would have buried if they had their way. I have a great respect for Mormons in general as valuable members of society, this book certainly doesn't give me any indication that Mormons and Fundamentalists are the same, but it does show the potential pitfalls of many of their articles of their faith and the possible consequences...

Jon is brilliant, a great writer - but, he is critical of religion in general (he should stick with the subject matter at hand I think - he makes backhanded and gross generalisations toward religious belief in general). The Narrator was good too, he did a good job - very natural delivery and he spoke in a conversational way when he was quoting interviews.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

1 out of 5 stars
By Monique on 08-31-17

Boring as Bats@&$

The first few chapters were interesting. The rest is just boring propaganda. Read by the author. Perhaps that needs a re-think !! Gave up after chapter 8.

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