Reviews in 200 Words

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer

In Non-Fiction on June 6, 2009 at 11:51 pm

Like a train-wreck followed by a tornado followed by the Holocaust, the story of the Mormon Fundamentalist religion is confounding and nightmarish. Jon Krakauer focuses on the 1984 murder committed by Ron and Dan Lafferty of their brother’s wife and baby daughter. But to understand the case (or, to fully comprehend the amount of historic horror that backs it up), Krakauer unpacks the Mormon story from its inception. The Mormon Fundamentalists have families more complicated than tangles of long uncombed hair. Not only do they condone polygamy as right and good, many men take their own 13 and 14-year-old daughters as wives; known by most of the rest of the world as rape, incest and abuse. Krakauer could have printed the words, “I’m not making this up,” at the end of each page—it’s that upsetting. Yet, within the stomach turning truth of the Mormon Fundamentalists, Krakauer confronts the very notion of religion—what sense does any of it make? What part of anyone’s life doesn’t confuse an unfamiliar onlooker? The Lafferty brothers not only carried out a deranged plan, they did it under the guise of revelation from God, proving that religion doesn’t need common sense or logic to thrive and prosper.

  1. this = the perfect one-sentence review:

    Krakauer could have printed the words, “I’m not making this up,” at the end of each page—it’s that upsetting.

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