Why I Like Jon Krakauer’s Writing Style

Dear Reader,

I like Jon Krakauer’s writing style in UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN: A STORY OF VIOLENT FAITH, just as I did in his books INTO THIN AIR and INTO THE WILD. He starts with a single event, in this case a murder, diverges, diverges some more, then returns to the murder and asks the reader to look at it through a variety of lenses (defined by me): insanity, fanaticism, passion, stupidy, belief, and more. He explores the history of Mormonism, but he could just as well have focused on Christianity or Islam–with a great deal more difficulty, of course, as they are centuries old, compared with Mormonism, which is still in its infancy–and how easily people hijack religion to further their non-spiritual agendas. Krakauer’s style leaves room for readers to develop their own questions and draw their own conclusions, which is much better than putting up with a didactic author. I picked up this book because the title intrigued me, and because I wanted to learn a bit about the history of the Mormon faith and, thereby, something about the religion as it is practiced today. I learned enough about the history to know there’s a lot more to learn, and very little about the practice of Mormonism, which is really okay, by me; that would require serious study. (It’s interesting that as I reread the subtitle of the book I realized I’d repeatedly thought it said “A Story of ‘A’ Violent Faith,” which states that Mormanism is violent. Take out “A” and it refers to any faith, as an act.)