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I´m brasilian and got in contact with this religion for the first time through this book, and appears to me an appeling, amazing and very clarifying review about the lifestile of people that I probably will never see.
I disagree that in telling the reader that Krakauer is agnositc is a bad thing. Is it bad to hid his bias and leave a veil up? Why should an author of such a deep topic have to avoid his feelings. This is not a textbook or a strict history of the Mormans, but one man's keen observations about religion. The two great catch-22s of religion are the foundations of an engrossing story. First, is the paradox of how a minority relgion wants equality and freedom from the law of the majority when they face the wrath of the majority, yet how quicky equality and freedom of others are forgotten when they become the minority to your majority. Secondly, the author highlights how in religious debate their is only room for revelation and one correct "truth" behind it and no room for logic. The author points out that all religions have these problems and states that in the Mormons it is just easier to show because they came into existence when unfulfilled prophesy could be confirmed by logic and evidence. "Under the Banner of Heaven" is a Great and needed book for people to start to think about these heady concepts, but as in everything in our countrie's cultural landscape it faces a divided audience. The truely "devout" or "fantic" (depends on point of view) will be bothered by this book and I would bet people will love the book or hate it. Like Michael Moore's new Movie this book is going to speak loudly to people who are open to questioning the power structure of local and national leadership. I think nobody could debate the Krakauer is great at weaving a clear and engrossing story. His acknowledged point of view made the work like the great Will Durants in that it was not boggled down with strict academic language that make so many books unreadable (like the scholasitc's of the middle ages our academics have become lost in their language and forget to make living works) and yet this work is in no means without scholorship and deep thought.
Poor scholarship and poor research make for an interesting story. Unfortunately Krakauer does a disservice to all religions (with Mormonism as the whipping boy in this tale) and discredits his own research by lacing his historically inaccurate portrayl with so much opinion.
This is the third book by Jon Krakauer that I have read. Upon its completion I found myself questioning many of the "facts" the author presented in the first two books. My conclusion is that either there is much more fiction in the author's earlier writings than I would have thought or the author has exceeded his professional capabilities.
I agree with many of the expletives used by others regarding this book, i.e.; captivating, appalling, provocative, engrossing, startling, horrific, intriguing, and disturbing, yet it lacks the compelling accuracy demanded by such a story.
The author is a self-professed agnostic however in this reader’s opinion it is unprofessional to so heavy lace one's beliefs through a book marketed as non-fiction.
I'm not an overly religious person. But I am a person that can see through religous BS. I will not understand how these early converts to this new religon could'nt see through this big phony, Joseph Smith. OK, so he likes to molest little girls- coincidentally, he gets a 'Revelation' that they can 'marry' more than one wife. There is no evidence of the gold bibles, but coincidentally & conveniently Moroni the Angel takes them back. This book made me sick, but I could not put it down. Brigham Young- another real winner. These two early church leaders had less integrity than Saddam Hussein. Just the kind of religion I'd want to be associated with.
An amazing book. Like another poster before me, I'm recommending to everyone I know.
This book is compelling. I feel this is an important book everyone should be reading. There are religious fanatics within our borders, not unlike the Islamist Fundamentalists that continue to terrorize the world. We need to be wary of these people and we need tp make sure, as tax payers that we are not supporting these polygamists 'that bleed the beast' by 'spitually marrying' very young girls and impregnating them and signing them up to collect welfare. Colorado City, AZ is an amazing example. I find this book very important. Krakauer is an amazing writer and I recommend this book to everyone.
I was fascinated by Jon’s interview with the Laffertys and his research of "Fundamentalist Mormons", but I failed to see any real point to this book. Trying to find the spiritual roots of violence in the deeds of the lunatic fringe seems a bigger stretch than he could manage. His thoughts seemed disjointed and logic fragmented as he jumps back and forth into different phases of (F)/LDS history. Much of this book has been covered before and by much better historians. I found his treatise of the horrific “Mountain Meadow Massacre” to be thin and myopic. He misses the point of religious belief and seemingly seeks to disparage those who have taken their leap of faith. I would recommend Wallace Stegner’s book “Mormon Country” to those who want a better "unbiased" observation of this “unique” American religion.
While the book was superbly reported, it was obvious that the subject wasn't the author's passion. Unlike Eiger Dreams, Into Thin Air and Into the Wild, where it was obvious Krakauer posessed a strong bond with his subjects, he seemed detached from those in this book. While engaging and historically appealing, it didn't agree with Krakauer's ability to depict the outdoor adventure world, where he has no rivals. A book to read, not a book to savor.