Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith tells the story of the double-murder of Erica Lafferty and her 15-month-old daughter Brenda by two of Brenda’s husband’s brothers. In order to put together the mental framework that lead Ron and Dan Lafferty to commit these murders, Mr. Krakauer provides a history of Mormonism and various fundamentalist Mormon splinter groups.
The book is well-researched and delivered in a calm, journalistic style. As the subject matter is a particularly wild-eyed, frenetic religiosity, this detached style works very well, and if anything makes the subject matter even more chilling. It’s stunning to read about the belief systems that are still thriving in the 21st century in the richest nation on Earth. The brief background of the religion and its tenets is very enlightening. Mr. Krakauer takes great care to separate official Mormonism and the various fundamentalist offshoots, and also to note the areas where they intersect.
Particularly interesting is Ron Lafferty’s insanity defense during his second trial, where the court finds that he is not insane, but that he has a highly unorthodox belief system, and that if the court were to find him insane, they would in fact rule everybody who’s religious insane.
Under the Banner of Heaven is an eminently readable and scary book that puts the spotlight on a lot of aspects of religion in historic and contemporary America. Highly recommended.
Posted Sunday, 16 November, 2003 by Nic Lindh
Another book roundup, including some stellar athletes and soldiers, what might be the most jaded, soul-weary protagonist ever, and some grimdark fantasy.
The Internet is getting creepy, and Nic is breaking out his tinfoil hat after newspaper paywalls push him over the edge.
Nic is tired of tech sites obsessing over Apple’s financials and business strategy. So very tired.
Nic reads a book about the processed food industry and is incensed.
Computers are complicated. This brings out the irrational in people.
Nic proposes the loan word Rechthaberei be incorporated into American English.
The Core Dump is back! Books were read during the hiatus. Includes The Coldest Winter, Oh, Myyy!, Tough Sh*t, The Revolution Was Televised, The Rook, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Gun Machine, Fortress Frontier, Standing in Another Man’s Grave, and The Memory of Light.
This site will return in February.
From a true patriot to a world-weary detective, a dead god, and a civilization about to sublime from the galaxy, this book roundup spans the gamut. Includes Where Men Win Glory, Wild, Inside the Box, The Black Box, Three Parts Dead, Red Country, and The Hydrogen Sonata.
Springsteen gives a concert in Phoenix. It’s fantastic.