As in Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, Krakauer starts with one case — in this book, the brutal murders of Brenda & Erica Lafferty — and expands from there to give the reader a full understanding of Mormonism, and its terrifying offshoot, the fundamental Mormons responsible for this violence and so much more.
“As a means of motivating people to be cruel or inhumane-as a means of inciting evil, to borrow the vocabulary of the devout-there may be no more potent force than religion.”
This is a tough book to read, like Missoula was, because Krakauer not only makes you get to know the victims in his central case, but will make you realize how expansive the overall issue of fundamental Mormonism. The differences between the two factions of the religion are extreme — and “regular” Mormonism is hardly a laidback religion on its own. The biggest issue with fundamentalism that Krakauer focuses on — and the reason that the fundamentalists split originally — is the practice of polygamy. The marriages of men to multiple women — often, very young women who had previously been their stepdaughters — still occurs in this religion, despite it being totally illegal. The fact that it’s not prosecuted or punished the way that it should be made me sick.
I had not previously been too familiar with the history of Mormonism, and Krakauer goes into it in pretty great detail. He also interviewed dozens of people involved in the Lafferty — some of whom will break your heart. Like I said, it’s not an easy book to read, but like Missoula, I feel it gave me insight into a major issue that I hadn’t even been aware of previously.