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Under the Banner of Heaven

A Story of Violent Faith

By Jon Krakauer

Under the Banner of Heaven
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • Hardcover: Jul 2003,
    400 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2004,
    400 pages.

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There are currently 45 reader reviews for Under the Banner of Heaven
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Toby Bullock (12/23/03)

Hmmm...where to start. Suppose someone writes a "balanced" book about your family and doesn't use your family members for much source material. Granted, source material directly from the family is biased but so is material from those who don't like the family (or were booted out of the family). You read through a "history" of your family but see, to your frustration, that the sources used for info were only casually associated with the family or wrote about them from afar.

Basically, this book didn't do justice to my family. In short, the treatment of Joseph Smith caused me to laugh out-loud. The sources used for that particular part of the book were obviously from enemies of the church. Further, The fundementalists are not as linked to the "Main-line" (a term, incidently, that I've never heard used in Utah before) LDS church as a casual, outside observer may be led to believe. These groups and individuals pick and choose doctrines from the gospel to achieve their own ends but live nothing close to LDS observances/lifestyle.

This book takes aspects of our history (plural marriage and LDS scripture for example) out of context making it difficult for non-LDS folk to understand the whole within a full framework of Mormon history . I don't know how accurately the FLDS (another term I've never heard of) were portrayed, but I truly didn't recognize the people he described as "Main-line" LDS. I would urge people to study the source (Book of Mormon - other church publications) of the doctrines for themselves and not take this book at face value.
Dan (12/15/03)

This book was good other than the fact that it preached some very wrong ideas about mormanism. The story of the two brothers <<edited for potential plot spoiler content>> is not a good eway to portray all mormans, because there are some that are very nice people and they are not polygamists or psychos. There are religious fanatics in every religion, but that doesnt mean that religion is bad, and that is the feeling i got from this book. Other than that, the autor presents a good story combined with morman history that i find interesting. He presents the story much better than other autors might have done. It makes good references and is skillfully written. I give this book a 3 because of the fact that the author does present mormans in a bad way, and that is not how they are.
juan (11/25/03)

Of course there are dark sides to religion. Take for example the Episcopalians who now have an openly gay bishop. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I can rest assured that something of this magnitude will not happen. There is no question in my mind that there are some dark "secrets" in Mormon history. I can't be too sure what happened in the Mountain Meadows massacre. Did Brigham Young personally issue the attack? Who knows? I can say that in my 33 years as a member of the church, I've come across some real idiots who profess to be good Mormons when in fact, they are anything but. That doesn't mean that the teachings are bad and untrue, it means that there are humans running the show. I believe Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father appeared to Joseph Smith. I also believe Joseph Smith was as human as the rest of us and made some stupid mistakes. The author of this book uses only the negative aspects of the history to libel a religion that is the fastest growing in the world. If it were such a terrible religion or "cult" as some like to put it, why is it growing so fast and making so many people happy and make sense of this crisis-filled world?
Isabel (11/25/03)

The author was good about telling the story about these crazy brothers. Unfortunately, it portrayed the mormons as extremest people. Also, he tells some history but makes it sound like a fairy tale. If a person wants to find out more about this religion, a person needs to go directly to the source and do some serious research about the main message given in this religion, not only take the opinion of one person and believe to be true. I encourage people to look beyond one perspective before coming to a conclusion and I promise you will think twice. Crazy people exist in all religions, and not because of their bad ideas a religion should be generalized as bad. For example, the Islam, terrorists use it as an excuse to kill people, but that doesn't mean that was the message that Mohammed was trying to teach. And the list can go on
Pam Mayers (10/15/03)

Quite honestly, I knew very little about Mormonism. I knew that there were polygamists among them, but beyond that, I knew nothing. This book opened my eyes to their existence, their purpose, their future aspirations.
I was also fascinated by the description of Joseph Smith and how the religion came about through his revelations from God. I can't help but wonder about all prophets and their revelations after reading this book. The author does a superb job of taking the reader deep into the minds of many of the fundamentalists and their strong beliefs. It's rather chilling and, at the same time, thought provoking. I found myself searching the internet for more information about Mormonism after I finished reading the book. It was difficult to put the book down once I started reading it.
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