I know I have told this story before, but it bears repeating here. I was once stopped by door-to-door Mormons and it was a terrifying experience. I was walking my dad's dog Ramsey on a cool spring afternoon. It had just started raining and I was about 4 blocks from my house. I was turning from a busy road onto a more private residential street when 3 young women on bikes started racing towards me. I just thought they were biking so quickly so that they could get out of the rain, but they were actually ambushing me. So, there I was in the rain, walking a dog and suddenly surrounded by 3 women asking me questions about my faith. They literally blocked my path on the sidewalk and surrounded us. It was unnerving and they did not let me go very easily. They asked me what religion I was and I responded "Roman Catholic" and they asked me why I believed in Catholocism. Not exactly the conversation that I want to have in the rain ladies. Also, one thing that most people should know is that you should never box in a person on a walk with their dog. Dogs don't take to that kindly.
Anyhow, Under the Banner of Heaven is an extremely intriguing book. I knew nothing of the history of Mormons and this gave a good understanding of who they are and where they came from. It also tells the story of modern day Mormons and how there are really two factions, the Church of Latter Day Saints and the fundamentalist Mormons. Krakauer actually starts the book with a horrific murder committed by fundamentalist Mormons who were acting in the name of God. Which is something that I've never understood. How do we get from religion to murder?
Another topic that the book discusses quite a bit is the Mormon belief of polygamy. The Church of Latter Day Saints officially denounces polygamy, however, fundamentalist Mormons still practice it and are apparently very out in the open with their multiple wivery in small town Utah. I don't like to criticize people for their religion, but polygamy is a terrible thing. Like so terrible that I can't even believe it still happens in modern day society. The problem with multiple wives is that it's a sign of male dominance over women and, as the book shows, often results in women being sexually assaulted and thinking that it ain't nothing. Women truly believe they are the property of their husbands. As in "She's not my wife, she's my property." Gross.
The book is very informative and I especially enjoyed learning more about the beginnings of Mormonism and how quickly the religion became mainstream. If you don't know the story of Mormonism and it's founder Joseph Smith, you really should read this book (or at the very least google that shit) because it's pretty unbelievable.
I would say 4/5 or 8/10 stars.