[the book fiend]

Before I delve into my triumphant return to book reviewing, I want to take a minute to talk about a partnership I'm participating in with Grammarly! Grammarly offers a wonderful service for any blogger: plagiarism detection software. Not only does it scan for plagiarism, Grammarly's software will also check your grammar. I use Grammarly's plagiarism detection software because being a copy is way too boring. I want to make sure my content is unique; who wants to read something they've seen multiple times on multiple blogs?!

I am so far behind on my book reviews it isn't even funny.. I've been reading lately, but I haven't been posting. While I may not have made my 52 in 52 goal for last year, I'm still going to keep reading & reviewing away. The 52 in 52 page has been updated to feature a list of book reviews that I've done.

I'm starting back with a review of Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer.

Ron and Dan Lafferty, members of a polygamous sect, murdered their sister-in-law and newborn niece. Both brothers believed that the murders were commanded by God. In the process of telling the story of the Lafferty brothers, Krakauer explains how polygamous cults like the Lafferty's came into existence.

Y'all. This was one of the best books I've read in a very long time. Under the Banner could have easily just been a long list of gruesome stories told purely for shock value. Goodness knows the history of these polygamous sects broken off from the Mormon church is full of such stories. But Krakauer doesn't. Yes there are shocking stories throughout, but they're artfully placed in a proper context. Krakauer's focus is instead on telling how these groups came to be and how they continue to exist to this day. In doing so, Krakauer delves into the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Ladder Day Saints, shedding light on some of the less well known policies and acts in the church's early history. Here too Krakauer could have simply smeared mud on the LDS church and walked away. But he didn't here either. Krakauer was diligent about putting the stories in context and contrasting them with the LDS church today. The history is quite helpful and sheds a great deal of light onto why these sects exist and why the animosity exists between the LDS groups and the polygamous sects. Under the Banner covers history, culture, religion, and law without ever feeling boring or educational. It's one of those books that forces you to learn without realizing that you're learning. By the end of the book I still didn't agree with the Laffertys' decision but I certainly understood what could have lead them to make it. I do have one negative though: it's painfully obvious that Krakauer dislikes religion (and not just the organized kind). But in the end, this didn't detract from the book. Since Krakauer's disdain was shared equally between all forms of religion and was not just reserved for "fringe" groups, the book still felt like a fair treatment of the topic.

Ultimately, I thoroughly enjoyed not only the book but Krakauer's writing style. I will be reading more of his books in the future.

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