At my old blog haunt, I used to post notices of interesting places Latter-day Saints (aka “Mormons”) show up. Here’s an interesting one (even if the LDS content is minimal one of the prosecutors was a practicing member): This is not really a book review, more pointing out a few interesting things that make the book worthwhile, even if it is a decade old:
1. The reviewers compared this to a Jon Krakauer book. It is as well written, stylistically, as any Krakauer book. The difference is (fellow Alaskan) Tom Kizzia cares about the truth and avoiding sensationalism. Basically, Krakauer if he had any intellectually integrity and no ideological axes to grind.
2. It may seem like hype that “Papa Pilgrim” – the father (and bad guy) at the heart of this tale – has a connection to the Kennedy Assassination. It turns out he does, it’s not sensational, and it’s rather dark. Spoilers, sort of – Robert Allen Hale (Papa Pilgrim’s actual name) makes an appearance in the biography of John Connally, the governor of Texas who was riding in the limousine when Kennedy was shot. It’s not directly connected to the assassination, but it involves a cruel death.
3. It’s always interesting (in the “Chinese curse” sort of way) when your “heroes” turn out to be evil. The government really treated the Pilgrim family’s land right quite badly, and a lot of libertarians were, I think, right to oppose the heavy handed government interference. But once his crimes came to light, there was no chance of defending him, even when his crimes had no connection to land right usage and right of way access.
4. As mentioned above, one prosecutor was LDS, but while there is little “Mormon” material in the book, there is quite a lot of religious material. The real “hero” of the book, if there is one, was a very strict Evangelical Christian (with a military background) who took in the quite large Pilgrim family after everything exploded, despite having a rather large family himself. Also, religion helped the Pilgrim children realize their father was not right and needed punishment for his crimes (the brothers helped the sister he was abusing escape, and one moving scene involves the sons calling their father to repentance after he is found guilty).
5. If you track down the music the family recorded, it’s actually pretty good. It’s just hard to listen to once you know what “Papa” was doing with his daughter.