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review 2018-09-05 08:37
Under The Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith - Jon Krakauer

This extraordinary work of investigative journalism takes readers inside America’s isolated Mormon Fundamentalist communities, where some 40,000 people still practice polygamy. Defying both civil authorities and the Mormon establishment in Salt Lake City, the renegade leaders of these Taliban-like theocracies are zealots who answer only to God. At the core of Krakauer’s book are brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty, who insist they received a commandment from God to kill a blameless woman and her baby girl. Beginning with a meticulously researched account of this appalling double murder, Krakauer constructs a multi-layered, bone-chilling narrative of messianic delusion, polygamy, savage violence, 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.

Amazon.com

 

 

 

Under the Banner of Heaven investigates a true crime story that unfolded during the summer of 1984 within the Mormon Fundamentalist community. Brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty murdered a woman and her baby daughter, later claiming that they were ordered by God to do it. 

 

Krakauer uses this crime case as a basis for writing a behind-the-curtain look at Mormon Fundamentalist culture -- the history, the general belief system, even the "underbelly", if you will, where one will find a growing population of people struggling with various stages of mental illness. Severe depression is on the rise in this community and suicide attempts are no longer uncommon. Also to be found are increased reports of incest, molestation, and sexual assaults. It's believed that this particular problem is because the topic of sex / sex education is so strongly repressed within the community, especially among the female population. Even married couples seem to dance around the topic when it comes to trying to openly talk about it. Krakauer even manages to incorporate the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping case, looking at the creepy, tragic details of the crime and how her abductors (Mormons who turned Fundamentalist) were able to brainwash her into submission (In interviews in recent years, Smart has since come out and implied that her brainwashing was merely an act she put on to captors as a means to stay alive).

 

"We have the greatest and smoothest liars in the world."

~ Brigham Young

 

When Krakauer focuses on the Lafferty murder case, we learn that the Lafferty brothers grew up with a violent disciplinarian father, forced to watch him carry out violent acts on their mother or other children, at one point even beating the family dog to death. The father was also a believer in healing serious illness with fervent prayers rather than modern medicine. Or so Krakauer's research showed... but when Dan Lafferty himself was interviewed, he claimed he had a very happy, loving childhood. But even there, Krakauer later turns up evidence that Lafferty brought violence into his own marriage after reading a book on polygamy that claimed that women were to be looked at as "a subservient ox". It turns out Dan originally intended to take his oldest stepdaughter as his first plural wife, but later decided on a young Romanian immigrant who was working at Robert Redford's horse ranch nearby who claimed she was "open to new experiences". (Not the kind of thing people typically mean when they say that, but okay).

 

Brenda, the murder victim, was the sister-in-law of Ron and Dan, married to their brother Allen. She was also the only one of the Lafferty wives who was college educated. She was known in the community to be book smart with an independent spirit, not afraid to debate theology, and she would also encourage other wives in the community to stick up for themselves. Ron blamed Brenda for his own wife, Dianna, leaving him, taking their kids with her. A God-decreed murder, my foot! 

 

In addition to the true crime investigation, readers also get a look into the general history of Mormonism, all the way back to Joseph Smith & Brigham Young days, some of which might be new or forgotten info to today's readers -- such as the fact that Joseph Smith actually ran for President of the United States in 1844, but obviously lost to James Polk.

 

An earnest, good-natured kid with a low boredom threshold, Joseph Junior had no intention of becoming a debt-plagued farmer like his father, toiling in the dirt year in and year out. His talents called for a much grander arena. Although he received no more than a few years of formal schooling as a boy, by all accounts he possessed a nimble mind and an astonishingly fecund imagination... Gregarious, athletic, and good-looking, he was a regular raconteur whom both men and women found immensely charming. His enthusiasm was infectious. He could sell a muzzle to a dog...

 

In the beginning, Joseph Smith had emphasized the importance of personal revelation for everyone... he instructed Mormons to seek direct "impressions from the Lord," which should guide them in every aspect of their lives. Quickly, however, Joseph saw a major drawback to such a policy: if God spoke directly to all Mormons, who was to say that the truths he revealed to Joseph had greater validity than contradictory truths He might reveal to somebody else? With everyone receiving revelations, the prophet stood to lose control of his followers. Joseph acted fast to resolve this dilemma by announcing in 1830 -- the same year the Mormon Church was incorporated -- that God had belatedly given him another revelation: "No one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting my servant, Joseph Smith, Jr." But the genie was already out of the bottle... People liked talking to God directly, one-on-one, without intermediaries... Thus, even after Joseph told his followers that henceforth they were forbidden to receive divine commandments concerning church doctrine, many of these Saints quietly ignored the edict and continued to heed the voice of God, whether he was talking to them about matters of theology or personal issues.

 

 

 

We also get more examples of Joseph Smith's raging hormones and Emma Smith's long, losing battle with trying to keep her husband monogamous. William Law, Emma's friend as well as one of Joseph's counselors, urged Joseph to cool it down a bit with the ladies, but to no avail. Their friendship was later broken when Joseph kept making passes at William's wife.

 

Neither Emma's tears nor her rage were enough to make Joseph monogamous...neither were the prevailing mores of the day. He kept falling rapturously in love with women not his wife. And because that rapture was so wholly consuming and felt so good, it struck him as impossible that God might possibly frown on such a thing. Joseph wasn't by nature reflective of deliberative. He conducted his life impulsively, acting according to instinct and emotion. The Lord, it seemed to him, must surely have intended man to know the love of more than one woman or He wouldn't have made the prospect so enticing.

 

Between 1840 and 1844 God instructed the prophet to marry some forty women. Most were shocked and revolted when Joseph revealed what the Lord had in mind for them. Several were still prepubescent girls, such as fourteen year old Helen Mar Kimball. Although she acquiesced when the prophet explained that God had commanded her to become his plural wife -- and that she would be permitted twenty-four hours to comply -- Helen later confided to a friend, "I was young, and they deceived me, by saying the salvation of our whole family depended on it."

 

Joseph married Helen Mar Kimball in Nauvoo in May 1843, Earlier that same month, young Lucy Walker was also wed to the prophet after being similarly coerced...When the horrified girl balked at his proposal, Joseph explained to Lucy that if she refused she would face eternal damnation. "I have no flattering words to offer," he said. "It is a command of God to you. I will give you until tomorrow to decide this matter. If you reject this message the gate will be closed forever against you."

 

Throughout this period of frenzied coupling, Joseph adamantly denied that he endorsed plural marriage, let alone engaged in the practice himself. "When the facts are proved, truth and innocence will prevail at last," he asserted in a speech given to the people of Nauvoo in May 1844. "What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can find only one. I am the same man, innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers."

 

William decided to try his hand at making his own branch of Mormonism, the Reformed Mormon Church. He even printed pamphlets denouncing Joseph, claiming him a fraud. William's printing press was destroyed by Joseph's brother, Hyrum and an angry mob was rounded up to drive William out of town. Joseph and Hyrum had charges brought against them for their roles in the destruction of William's property. While they sat in jail, a different angry mob burst in and killed them both in a hail of gunfire. Specifically, Joseph himself was shot, sent out a window, shot again and then bayonetted, dying at a mere 38 years of age. 

Sidenote: There's also a discussion in this book about the Mountain Meadow Massacre. John D. Lee was ultimately executed for his role in the murders but just prior to death was quoted as saying that if he was innocent, Brigham Young would be dead in six months. As it turns out, Young was dead five months and six days after Lee's execution, but the cause of death is presumed to be from a probable burst appendix.

 

 

So in a nutshell, I guess Under The Banner Of Heaven is, in a way, a collective look at the history of violence that's gone down over the years within the Mormon Fundamentalist community, though largely kept quiet and swept under the "God's Work" rug. I didn't find the book completely entralling start to finish, there were some dry bits for me, but then again it definitely had plenty of jaw dropping moments in there as well. Recommended if you're at all interested in either true crime cases or reading about the more taboo side of the Mormon faith. 

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text 2018-02-23 21:48
testing to add a title
Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith - Jon Krakauer

 

 

This is what I get when I try to post  . . . . . . ANYTHING.

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review 2017-06-18 08:30
Das Drama am Mount Everest
In eisige Höhen: Das Drama am Mount Everest - Jon Krakauer,Christian Brückner

1996 hat sich am Mount Everest eine Tragödie ereignet, die mehrere Todesopfer gefordert hat. Journalist und Bergsteiger Jon Krakauer war live dabei und verarbeitet in diesem Buch  seine traumatische Erfahrung. Er zeigt, dass nicht der Mount Everest von Bergsteigern sondern die Höhenbegeisterten nach wie vor vom Berg bezwungen werden.

Es handelt sich hierbei um ein Sachbuch mit subjektiven Tönen, weil Autor und Journalist Jon Krakauer die Ereignisse aus erster Hand schildert. Er beschreibt seine Erlebnisse, seine Sicht der Begebenheiten und geht auch darauf ein, dass es aufgrund des Sauerstoffmangels zu unterschiedlichen Wahrnehmungen der Ereignisse kommen kann. Daher ist es schwierig in diesem Zusammenhang von der einen absoluten Wahrheit zu sprechen.

Die Wahrheit ist, dass der Mount Everest als höchster Berg der Welt nicht nur die größte Herausforderung für geübte Bergsteiger ist, sondern bereits jahrzehntelang als kommerzielles Ziel für wohlhabende Touristen herhalten muss. Dieser Entwicklung und ihren Folgen gibt der Autor genauso viel Raum, wie den Ereignissen von 1996. Dabei geht er auf die Problematik ein, dass sich Expeditionsführer in einer Zwickmühle befinden. Einerseits kann es keine Garantie für die Eroberung des Gipfels geben, andrerseits möchten sie natürlich zufriedene Kunden haben, weil ihr wirtschaftliches Überleben davon abhängig ist. So wird manches Risiko vielleicht schneller eingegangen, als es vernünftig ist. Dabei darf man nicht vergessen, dass viele dieser Everest-Touristen keine versierten Bergsteiger sind.

Jon Krakauer hingegen sind Berge nicht fremd. Zwar hätte er nicht gedacht, dass er eines Tages am Everest stehen wird, dennoch bringt er Gipfelerfahrung mit. Dadurch hat er einen sachverständigen Blick auf den Ablauf und das Drama von 1996. Gleichzeitig geht er auf die Geschichte des Everest, große Namen und die Gier nach dem Gipfel ein, die kaum jemanden kurz vorm Ziel zur Umkehr bewegt.

Der Mount Everest ist eine Herausforderung, der man sich bestimmt nicht oft im Leben stellt. Den Gipfel der Welt zu erklimmen, ist für viele Bergsteiger ein Traum, den es sich hart zu erkämpfen gilt. Krakauer schildert minutiös welchen Strapazen der menschliche Körper ausgesetzt ist. Es ist nicht nur Muskelarbeit, die hier gefordert wird, sondern man muss sich als Ganzes auf die Höhenluft einstellen. Übelkeit, Erbrechen, Durchfallerkrankungen, schneidende Kälte, brütende Hitze, Schlaflosigkeit und permanenter Sauerstoffmangel sind nur einige Widrigkeiten, die es auf dem Weg zum Gipfel zu überwinden gilt. All dies beschreibt Jon Krakauer und geht anschließend auf die unglücklichen Umstände ein, die 1996 etliche Todesopfer am Mount Everest gefordert haben.

Einziger Kritikpunkt ist, dass Krakauer über Bergsteiger und -führer namentlich richtig herzieht. Er beschreibt sexuelle Eskapaden oder unnötige Luxusgüter, die von Sherpas mitgeschleppt werden müssen und geht auf - seiner Meinung nach - mangelnde Vorbereitung mancher Bergführer ein. Es ist vollkommen in Ordnung, Schuldzuweisungen und Mutmaßungen auszusprechen, allerdings hätte er etwas subtiler vorgehen können.

Sprecher Christian Brückner leiht auch Robert De Niro seine deutsche Stimme und so hatte ich das Bild dieses berühmten Schauspielers vor Augen, was doch recht passend ist. Die Tonqualität ist etwas merkwürdig, weil es klingt, als ob Jon Krakauer bei sich im Wohnzimmer sitzt und seine Erfahrungen auf Tonband spricht. Es hört sich wie eine alte Aufnahme auf Kassette an, was der Erzählung meiner Meinung nach hohe Authentizität verleiht.

Für mich ist „In eisige Höhen“ ein authentischer Blick auf den Mount Everest. Ich habe mit hohem Interesse und großer Faszination den Begebenheiten rund um Gipfelstürmern, dem Berg und letztendlich dem Drama von 1996 gelauscht, mir dabei die Sonne ins Gesicht scheinen lassen, die Scherpas bewundert und den Kopf über manch risikofreudigen Expeditionstrupp geschüttelt. 

Meiner Meinung nach ist es ein absolutes Must-Read-Buch für jeden, der sich für den Gipfel der Welt interessiert und aus erster Hand erfahren will, wie sich dieses Drama ereignet hat.

Source: zeit-fuer-neue-genres.blogspot.co.at
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review 2017-02-22 21:39
Book Review: Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster - Jon Krakauer

Into Thin Air is both thrilling and terrifying. Not that I was considering it, but I will now never take mountain climbing as a hobby — especially mountains where high-altitude sickness is a problem. Krakauer includes the history of Mount Everest along with the day-to-day events of his expedition, which added an interesting, enjoyable element to the novel. Not only was I reading a great story, I felt like I was learning a lot too.

 

Into Thin Air is a tragic story that is wonderfully told. The level of detail included in the descriptions is remarkable. I felt like I was climbing Everest with the author, going through the same psychological and physical torture. I also got to know those who climbed with him, sharing in their successes and failures. I want to note that there is a controversy as to whether the events happened like Krakauer said they happened; I am sure, with all that was going on at the time, that there are discrepancies with events, but I doubt that they are serious since he also interviewed multiple people who were there as well.

 

I would recommend this book for anyone who is at all interested in adventure or memoirs. If you’re squeamish, you should maybe stay away, since there are descriptions of some pretty awful sights and diseases (I got queasy more than a few times). However, I think that Into Thin Air is a novel most people will find a worthwhile read.

Source: www.purplereaders.com/?p=2214
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review 2016-12-17 00:00
Into the Wild
Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer ~*Full review on The Bent Bookworm!*~
“He read a lot. Used a lot of big words. I think maybe part of what got him into trouble was that he did too much thinking. Sometimes he tried too hard to make sense of the world, to figure out why people were bad to each other so often…he always had to know the absolute right answer before he could go on to the next thing.” – Wayne Westerberg, referring to Chris (Alex) McCandless

First of all, this is not just a biography of Chris McCandless. Yes, it tells his story, but then it goes off on several trails of OTHER wilderness-loving solitaries (some of which survived, and some didn’t).
image
More people have seen the movie than read the book, and from what I can tell the movie is more streamlined. My DH really enjoyed it and has been asking me to watch it with him for at least a couple of years, but I’m very resistant to watching a movie before the book that inspired it. (Don’t even get me started on how I felt about going to see Fantastic Beasts in theatre.) When a friend mentioned he had a copy just lying around, I jumped on the chance. Surprised by how it small it was, I sat down and devoured it…in about 4 hours. Quite a long time for my usual reading speed.

The first couple of chapters are a brief narrative of the events leading up to Chris’ journey “into the wild,” and then the events surrounding the discovery of his body. I was really shocked that part was over so quickly! I was expecting more of a lead-up. But as soon as all the bare facts are out (maybe the result of the Outside article that originally ran on McCandless?), Krakauer goes back in time to dig through McCandless’ early life, then his hobo life after college. I was eerily struck by how similar some of the descriptions of his known thoughts and behaviors were to my own. An introvert, a reader, a thinker – someone who lived inside his own head for long stretches of time – these were all things with which I can easily identify. It was creepy.

McCandless was either a visionary or a reckless idiot. It’s obvious that Krakauer feels he was the former, but I think the judgment could go either way. For someone SO intelligent, McCandless’ intentional self-sabatoge (throwing away the maps, refusing to take advice from seasoned hunters and hikers) is just ABSURD. No matter how pretty his prose, there is no way to explain that part of his adventure away. On the other hand, he made it 113 days, and from the photos and journal he left behind, he was actually doing pretty well until some infected berries made his body turn on itself.

Maybe he was both. The most intelligent people are often noted for their decided lack of common sense. He formed his views on wilderness at least partially from fiction – an extremely dangerous concept.
McCandless read and reread [b:The Call of the Wild|1852|The Call of the Wild|Jack London|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1452291694s/1852.jpg|3252320] and [b:White Fang|43035|White Fang|Jack London|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1475878443s/43035.jpg|2949952]. He was so enthralled by these tales that he seemed to forget they were works of fiction, constructions of the imagination that had more to do with London’s romantic sensibilities than with the actualities of life in the subartic wilderness.

The middle portion of the book delves a lot into other wilderness personalities. I found them interesting, but while in some ways similar to McCandless they are all different enough to warrant their own tales. They feel a bit like filler. Interesting filler, but filler nonetheless.

McCandless’ backstory is filled with drama between himself and his family. He seemed to be more than capable of making friends, yet has a nonexistent relationship with his parents. While purportedly close to one sister…he leaves her without any sort of goodbye. Loner, indeed. Again, I can relate…but cutting off one’s family entirely is almost never a good thing (cases of abuse and intolerance exempted of course). Like Ken Sleight, the biographer of another wilderness disappearing act, Everett Ruess, says:
“Everett was a loner; but he liked people too damn much to stay down there and live in secret the rest of his life. A lot of us are like that…we like companionship, see, but we can’t stand to be around people for very long. So we get ourselves lost, come back for a while, then get the hell out again.”

Again, that quandary is one I feel and have felt very often. Unlike McCandless, I’ve never felt strongly enough about any of it to just chuck my entire life and go off into the woods. Perhaps that’s a lack of backbone on my part. Or perhaps it just shows that I have one.

One of McCandless’ last journal entries:
I have lived through much, and now I think I have found what is needed for happiness. A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books , music, love for one’s neighbor – such is my idea of happiness. And then, on top of all that, you for a mate, and children, perhaps – what more can the heart of a man desire?

Still a bit on the melodramatic side. What, exactly, had he lived through? A spoiled white child from doting parents that GAVE AWAY his livelihood to wander like an outcast? At the same time…it rings a note of truth there that makes my heart ache. He seems to echo Oscar Wilde:
With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?

I’m giving 5/5 stars, based solely on how I felt immediately after finishing the book. Looking at it now I would probably say 4 because of all the extraneous information and meandering.

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