Under the Banner of Heaven

Jon Krakauer

Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, about his trials during the 1996 climbing disasters on Mt. Everest, is my favorite non-fiction book. Every line is etched in clear, cutting language and injected with his raw, guilty pain, giving it a vivid propulsion most popular writers never attain. I was understandably eager for Under the Banner of Heaven. Focused on splinter sects of the Church of Latter-day Saints, his new book is about the murder of a mother and child by some of one group’s most extreme adherents. The hype says Heaven’s connection with his previous work is that Krakauer is now examining another kind of extreme human endeavor (faith, not mountain climbing). However, his work here seems several shades away from his previous clarity. A good book, but a job better left to any journeyman “true crime” author.