Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith

A multilayered, bone-chilling narrative of messianic delusion, savage violence, polygamy, and unyielding faith. This is vintage Krakauer, an utterly compelling work of nonfiction that illuminates an otherwise confounding realm of human behavior.

Jon Krakauer’s literary reputation rests on insightful chronicles of lives conducted at the outer limits. In Under The Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, 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.

Title:Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780330419123
Format Type:

About Jon Krakauer

Jon Krakauer is an American writer and mountaineer, well-known for outdoor and mountain-climbing writing.


    Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith Reviews

  • Len

    I don't know where to start with this book -- I couldn't put it down. It was enthralling. A quick note about Krakauer: this was the first book I've read by him and I was duly impressed with his story ...

  • Petra Eggs

    This is a hard book for me to review given that I have quite a few Mormon friends and that although my own philosophy leans more towards existentialism than anything else, I feel its differents stroke...

  • Colleen

    I read this book for the book club at my local library. Afterwards, I felt indignant, confused, intrigued, and disgusted about all forms of faith. So, I sincerely hoped that a Saint or two would show ...

  • Stephen

    4.0 to 4.5 stars. For non-fiction, this book had me absolutely riveted from the very beginning. This true crime narative has three main themes, all of which I think Krakauer accomplishes extremely we...

  • Mateo

    You know, I probably shouldn't have read this directly after finishing In Cold Blood. I'm not saying the combination brought out the homicidal psychotic in me, but I did have to pay for stabbing the h...

  • Karen

    This book makes a lot of big promises, but it suffers from several serious flaws:1. Lack of focus.2. Too long.3. Preposterous claim.4. BoringThis is a true crime novel--maybe--set against the history ...

  • Cheryl

    Hmmm...where do I start? First of all, I didn't finish reading this book. It was intriguing in the beginning to learn about the Fundamentalist Mormons and the interestingly odd things they believe and...

  • John

    I really enjoyed Into Thin Air, but now I wonder if it is poorly done as this book was. As a Mormon I was amazed at Krakauer's complete naivete that he's trying to pass off as expertise and a well-res...

  • Perry

    Intriguing and Incisively IconoclasticRon & Dan Lafferty, convicted of vicious 1984 murders of their brother's wife & infant daughter (shown below)A razor-edged examination of fanaticism in religion, ...

  • Kelli

    Thank God that’s over (no pun intended)! This book may have been confused about what it was or maybe it’s just me thats confused, but by the end of this (or, to be more accurate, well before the m...