Review: Under the Banner of Heaven
After listening to Missoula, I knew I wanted another narrative non-fiction audio book and Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith seemed like the logical choice since it was written by Jon Krakauer as well. Krakauer set out to write a book about religious beliefs and focused on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (commonly known as the Mormon church) since he grew up in Utah and was somewhat familiar with the church. As he conducted his research, he discovered more than he bargained for and ended up focusing on religious fanaticism instead.
There are three threads woven throughout Under the Banner of Heaven:
- The senseless murders of Brenda Lafferty and her fifteen month old daughter
- The history of the Mormon church, starting with its founder, Joseph Smith
- The many splinter groups of the Mormon church, particularly the FLDS
This fascinating book was hard to put down! I have to admit that I found the particulars of the history of the church the least interesting, since I knew much of it already, but it didn’t really matter because Krakauer did an expert job of weaving the three aspects of the story together. He opens the book with Lafferty’s murder, which was an act of religious fanaticism, and examines the twisted logic behind it.
Under the Banner of Heaven is captivating and disturbing at the same time. I’ve always been fascinated by religious cults and fanatics so it was a perfect match for me. As you would expect, Krakauer’s research is outstanding and his writing is engaging. Scott Brick did an outstanding job narrating the audio version of the book. Pick this book up if you enjoy nonfiction, history, or books on religion.