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The Road to Jonestown : Jim Jones and Peoples Temple
by Jeff Guinn


Overview - By the New York Times bestselling author of Manson , the comprehensive, authoritative, and tragic story of preacher Jim Jones, who was responsible for the Jonestown Massacre--the largest murder-suicide in American history.

In the 1950s, a young Indianapolis minister named Jim Jones preached a curious blend of the gospel and Marxism.  Read more...


 
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More About The Road to Jonestown by Jeff Guinn
 
 
 
Overview
By the New York Times bestselling author of Manson, the comprehensive, authoritative, and tragic story of preacher Jim Jones, who was responsible for the Jonestown Massacre--the largest murder-suicide in American history.

In the 1950s, a young Indianapolis minister named Jim Jones preached a curious blend of the gospel and Marxism. His congregation was racially integrated, and he was a much-lauded leader in the contemporary civil rights movement. Eventually, Jones moved his church, Peoples Temple, to northern California. He became involved in electoral politics, and soon was a prominent Bay Area leader.

In this riveting narrative, Jeff Guinn examines Jones's life, from his extramarital affairs, drug use, and fraudulent faith healing to the fraught decision to move almost a thousand of his followers to a settlement in the jungles of Guyana in South America. Guinn provides stunning new details of the events leading to the fatal day in November, 1978 when more than nine hundred people died--including almost three hundred infants and children--after being ordered to swallow a cyanide-laced drink.

Guinn examined thousands of pages of FBI files on the case, including material released during the course of his research. He traveled to Jones's Indiana hometown, where he spoke to people never previously interviewed, and uncovered fresh information from Jonestown survivors. He even visited the Jonestown site with the same pilot who flew there the day that Congressman Leo Ryan was murdered on Jones's orders. The Road to Jonestown is the definitive book about Jim Jones and the events that led to the tragedy at Jonestown.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781476763828
  • ISBN-10: 1476763828
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publish Date: April 2017
  • Page Count: 544
  • Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Biography & Autobiography > Religious
Books > Religion > Cults
Books > History > United States - 20th Century

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2017-01-09
  • Reviewer: Staff

One of the ghastliest outbreaks of fanaticism in recent times, the 1978 mass suicide of some 900 members of the Peoples Temple church, gets a magisterial treatment in this biography of leader Jim Jones. True-crime journalist Guinn (Manson) follows Joness rise as a charismatic, indefatigable minister in Indiana and California preaching Christianity, socialism, vehement antiracism, and a bizarre personality cult that worshipped him as God. Theres plenty of grotesquerie in the story, from Joness faith-healing with confederates and chicken guts to his sexual predations on followers, his attempts to relocate the church to the Soviet Union, the beatings he meted out, and the climactic poisoning of his flock with cyanide-laced Flavor Aid. But Guinn probes the deeper mystery of Joness hold over his abused disciples, part personal magnetism and part genuine idealism, showing his commitment to civil rights and social justicehe was one of few white leaders to help integrate Indianapolis, pioneered welfare-services programs, and became a force in San Francisco progressive politicsand the warm personal regard he projected to his many poor, black followers. Guinns exhaustive research, shrewd analysis, and engaging prose illuminate a monstrous yet tragic figureand the motives of those who lost their souls to him. Agent: Jim Donovan, Jim Donovan Literary. (Apr.)

 
BookPage Reviews

The making of a massacre

Even now, after all the mass killings of recent decades—9/11, Oklahoma City, all the rest—the Jonestown massacre is still staggering in its horror. More than 900 Americans—nearly 300 of them children—died in a Guyanese jungle in 1978 after a dangerous crackpot named Jim Jones told them to commit suicide by swallowing a poison-infused drink.

How on earth could this have happened? Couldn’t someone have done something, anything, to prevent it? If there are answers to those questions, they start with examining Jones himself, the charismatic cult leader originally from small-town Indiana who drew thousands to his Peoples Temple, then destroyed those who followed him to his remote settlement. Writer Jeff Guinn, already a biographer of Charles Manson, provides a powerful account of Jones’ life based on a comprehensive examination of the records and new interviews with temple survivors and Jones’ relatives in The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple.

Jones is ultimately more interesting than Manson because he was a man of real accomplishment. Particularly in his early days, the white preacher fought effectively for civil rights for African Americans. Even as he drifted ever further into lunacy, his organization’s social service programs were always genuinely helpful. But simultaneously, Jones ran his ministry as a narcissistic cult, luring followers with phony faith healing and half-baked “socialist” rants, then exploiting his followers financially and sexually.

Was he always a monster or did something change? Initially, he resembled a number of other unorthodox evangelists. Then a pivot occurred in 1971 when Jones became addicted to drugs—his promiscuity and paranoia surged, and a tragic outcome became more likely, if not inevitable.

Guinn’s blow-by-blow account of Jonestown’s final days in the book’s last chapters is riveting. Jones betrayed hundreds of people who worshipped him; Guinn helps ensure we’ll remember their ruin.

This article was originally published in the April 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews