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Cannonball Read 2 #44: Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

I had not read any of Jon Krakauer's books up until this point, because the two I'd heard of frankly didn't interest me that much (I am particularly uninterested in the story of some idiotic trust-fund baby who wanders out into the woods and freezes to death.) However, this story sounded interesting so I ordered the book.

Under the Banner of Heaven was described almost as a true crime novel, however, once I actually started reading I discovered it was more a history of Mormonism. It's definitely not an objective view -- Krakauer is quick to point out the history of lies, violence, oppression, and struggles for power within the Mormon organization, and also the destruction caused by its numerous splinter groups.

It is slightly out of date, as some of the figures named in the books as persons of power withing the splinter movement have had changes of fortune (i.e. Warren Jeffs who was arrested and charged with several sex crimes related to his taking of multiple young wives and forcing other teenage girls into unwanted sexual relationships with men in his group.) However, it's definitely still mostly relevant.

The book itself is somewhat scattered and poorly organized IMO. He starts off talking about the murder of a woman and her child, and returns to that event periodically, but it seems haphazardly thrown in to all the history and explanations of Mormon theology.

I'm not sure I'd recommend this book, as it's really a little bit disturbing. However, for those interested in the subject matter, it's certainly worth reading.

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