Bookshelf for October 25, 2008
"Under the Banner of Heaven"
Under the Banner of Heaven

"Under the Banner of Heaven"

By Jon Krakauer (nonfiction, Doubleday, 2003, paperback, $14.95)

With the arrest and rape conviction of religious leader Warren Jeffs and the federal raid last April of its Texas compound, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has made headlines often in recent months.

But several years before the polygamous sect became so widely known, author Jon Krakauer wrote about the group in his book "Under the Banner of Heaven."

Krakauer, who also wrote "Into Thin Air" (an account of a fatal climbing trip on Mount Everest) and "Into the Wild" (about a young man who dies in Alaska's wilderness), is known for writing heavily researched nonfiction books that explore extreme aspects of human belief and behavior. "Heaven" is no exception.

Krakauer's sources, which include written materials, interviews and court transcripts, provide background and perspective on a sect whose beliefs and practices set it quite apart from the modern American norm.

In this book, Krakauer tackles not just the fundamentalist sect but also the history and development of the mainstream Mormon church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints formed after breaking away from the faith founded by Joseph Smith in 1830, though mainstream Mormonism disavows any connection with the sect.)

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Originally published October 25, 2008