Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

08 Aug

This is one of my borrowings from Surry Hills Library today, and I can’t put it down. It is morbidly fascinating. You worry about Muslims? There are people and beliefs described here, homegrown American ones, that rival the maddest mullahs and the most benighted Taliban zealots. Truly. Child rape and forced marriages are just part of it.

Mad and bad.

And totally American, but then of course the book is also American, and neither bad nor mad. But my God, do they have crazies over there!

Even the author says: “Faith-based violence was present long before Osama bin Laden, and it will be with us long after his demise… In any human endeavor, some fraction of its practitioners will be motivated to pursue their activities with such concentrated focus an unalloyed passion that it will consume them utterly… Ambiguity vanishes from the fanatic’s worldview; a narcissistic sense of self-assurance displaces all doubt… His perspective narrows until the last remnants of proportion are shed from his life… And when religious fanaticism supplants ratiocination, all bets are suddenly off. Anything can happen. Absolutely anything. Common sense is no match for the voice of God…”

An awful warning.

I returned The Feast of the Goat today too, another awful warning. Great novel, really great.

“This ugly, mesmerising, masterly novel is as steeped in facts as Macbeth was in blood. Nothing could be further from the popular idea of the South American novel, and nothing could be a more remarkable demonstration of its strengths, obsessions and direction. (…) It is a splendid novel, imbued with a passionately driving commitment.” – Philip Hensher, The Spectator

But Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven (Macmillan 2003) is not a novel. That makes it even scarier.

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Posted by on August 8, 2005 in America, book reviews, Christianity, faith and philosophy, Fiction, fundamentalism and extremism, Surry Hills, Top read, writers


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