Author: Tim Reiterman
An inside account of the Peoples Temple and the rise and fall of the Reverend Jim Jones offers eyewitness reports of the final days at Jonestown.
Author: Julia Scheeres
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
In 1954, a pastor named Jim Jones opened a church in Indianapolis called Peoples Temple Full Gospel Church. He was a charismatic preacher with idealistic beliefs, and he quickly filled his pews with an audience eager to hear his sermons on social justice. As Jones’s behavior became erratic and his message more ominous, his followers leaned on each other to recapture the sense of equality that had drawn them to his church. But even as the congregation thrived, Jones made it increasingly difficult for members to leave. By the time Jones moved his congregation to a remote jungle in Guyana and the US government began to investigate allegations of abuse and false imprisonment in Jonestown, it was too late. A Thousand Lives is the story of Jonestown as it has never been told. New York Times bestselling author Julia Scheeres drew from tens of thousands of recently declassified FBI documents and audiotapes, as well as rare videos and interviews, to piece together an unprecedented and compelling history of the doomed camp, focusing on the people who lived there. The people who built Jonestown wanted to forge a better life for themselves and their children. In South America, however, they found themselves trapped in Jonestown and cut off from the outside world as their leader goaded them toward committing “revolutionary suicide” and deprived them of food, sleep, and hope. Vividly written and impossible to forget, A Thousand Lives is a story of blind loyalty and daring escapes, of corrupted ideals and senseless, haunting loss.
Author: Jeff Guinn
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
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. 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 uncovered fresh information from Jonestown survivors.
Author: Leslie Wagner-Wilson
Slavery Of Faith...the quietly kept story of a young woman's escape through the jungles of Jonestown, Guyana the morning of the massacre November 18, 1978 and her struggles to live in the aftermath. November 18, 2008 marks 30 years since the Jonestown, Guyana Massacre/Suicides and the death of its founder, the Reverend Jim Jones. Escaping Jonestown, Guyana the morning of November 18,1978 with nine others, Leslie Wagner-Wilson then twenty one years old, trekked thirty seven miles through the jungle with a 40-pound care package strapped to her back with a sheet, her son, later to be known as the youngest survivor of Jonestown. That evening, she would be told that Jonestown was gone along with her plan to escape and return with her father, Richard Wagner who was a part of the Concerned Relatives to free the rest of her family. Amongst the carnage would be her husband, mother, brother, sister, niece, nephew, sister in law, brother in law and the friends she had grown up and loved since 13. Slavery of Faith reveals the life of a thirteen year old coming of age in the heart of People's Temple Disciples of Christ Church where the pastor Jim Jones, exhorted his followers to consider him divine and to call him "Father" while he touted his extra-marital affairs from the pulpit. The world of Jim Jones was one of inverted ideals, isolation and alienation. However, what began as a church that appealed to peoples inner spirit to help others, was turned into a living hell. Yet it was a place she would go, half a continent away, to be with her 2 year old son, who'd been taken to Jonestown by Jim Jones as he made his exodus to Guyana. It shares the horrors of Jonestown - the labor punishment squads, suicide drills, sleep deprivation, drugging, and humiliations. It also takes the reader through the escape that she says was revealed to her in the spirit. Thirty years since Jonestown, Slavery of Faith also chronicles her return to the U.S. under a veil of secrecy in fear of the "death squads," her fight to maintain her faith in her most darkest hours; suffering survivors guilt, drug addiction, a family suicide, and finally redemption. It shares her journey through psychological and spiritual jungles to reach a place of remembrance-- to "live their love and not their deaths." Faith has allowed her the resiliency to as she states "tuck and roll" and discover that through pain, tragedy and joy, her life has found divine order.
Author: David Chidester
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Praise for the first edition: "[This] ambitious and courageous book [is a] benchmark of theology by which questions about the meaningful history of the Peoples Temple may be measured." —Journal of the American Academy of Religion Re-issued in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the mass suicides at Jonestown, this revised edition of David Chidester's pathbreaking book features a new prologue that considers the meaning of the tragedy for a post-Waco, post-9/11 world. For Chidester, Jonestown recalls the American religious commitment to redemptive sacrifice, which for Jim Jones meant saving his followers from the evils of capitalist society. "Jonestown is ancient history," writes Chidester, but it does provide us with an opportunity "to reflect upon the strangeness of familiar... promises of redemption through sacrifice."
Author: Leigh Fondakowski
The saga of Jonestown didnOCOt end on the day in November 1978 when more than nine hundred Americans died in a mass murder-suicide in the Guyanese jungle. While only a handful of people present at the agricultural project survived that day in Jonestown, more than eighty members of Peoples Temple, led by Jim Jones, were elsewhere in Guyana on that day, and thousands more members of the movement still lived in California. Emmy-nominated writer Leigh Fondakowski, who is best known for her work on the play and HBO film "The Laramie Project," spent three years traveling the United States to interview these survivors, many of whom have never talked publicly about the tragedy. Using more than two hundred hours of interview material, Fondakowski creates intimate portraits of these survivors as they tell their unforgettable stories. Collectively this is a record of ordinary people, stigmatized as cultists, who after the Jonestown massacre were left to deal with their grief, reassemble their lives, and try to make sense of how a movement born in a gospel of racial and social justice could have gone so horrifically wrongOCotaking with it the lives of their sons and daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, and brothers and sisters. As these survivors look back, we learn what led them to join the Peoples Temple movement, what life in the church was like, and how the trauma of JonestownOCOs end still affects their lives decades later. What emerges are portrayals both haunting and hopefulOCoof unimaginable sadness, guilt, and shame but also resilience and redemption. Weaving her own artistic journey of discovery throughout the book in a compelling historical context, Fondakowski delivers, with both empathy and clarity, one of the most gripping, moving, and humanizing accounts of Jonestown ever written.
Author: Rebecca Moore
This in-depth investigation of Peoples Temple and its tragic end at Jonestown corrects sensationalized misunderstandings of the group and places its individual members within the broader context of religion in America. • Demonstrates meticulous research by the author, a scholar who has a personal connection to the subject • Provides a comprehensive and balanced view of the entire history of Peoples Temple, with insight from families and the members themselves • Includes a new preface that updates our understanding of events on the 40th anniversary of Jonestown • Shows how Peoples Temple fits into the broader history of black religion in America
Author: Deborah Layton
In this haunting and riveting firsthand account, a survivor of Jim Jones's Peoples Temple opens up the shadowy world of cults and shows how anyone can fall under their spell. A high-level member of Jim Jones's Peoples Temple for seven years, Deborah Layton escaped his infamous commune in the Guyanese jungle, leaving behind her mother, her older brother, and many friends. She returned to the United States with warnings of impending disaster, but her pleas for help fell on skeptical ears, and shortly thereafter, in November 1978, the Jonestown massacre shocked the world. Seductive Poison is both an unflinching historical document and a suspenseful story of intrigue, power, and murder.
Author: Phil Kerns
Publisher: Logos Associates
A former member of the People's Temple discusses his conversion to, involvement in, disillusionment with, and investigation of the cult of Jim Jones in which his mother and sister both met their deaths
Author: James Reston, Jr.
This is the definitive work on the Guyana tragedy when on November 18, 1978, one thousand members of the People’s Temple cult killed themselves in a Guyana jungle by drinking poison-laced Kool-Aid. Through the Freedom of Information Act, the author obtained more than 800 hours of tape recordings made in the jungle. Reston chronicles the descent into madness of the cult leader, the Reverend Jim Jones. "Reston's eye is novelistic....His larger purpose is to make the terribly irrational somehow understandable....He does so with the good judgment of a writer willing to avoid certain faddish modes of analysis." —Robert Coles, Washington Post Book Review
Author: Charles River Charles River Editors
*Includes pictures *Includes accounts of the cult and the massacre *Includes Jim Jones' quotes about his life and the massacre *Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading *Includes a table of contents "We didn't commit suicide; we committed an act of revolutionary suicide protesting the conditions of an inhumane world." - Jim Jones The United States has never had a shortage of cults based on religious teachings and charismatic leaders, but perhaps none are as infamous as Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple, which remain notorious for the mass murder-suicide event in Jonestown, Guyana on November 18, 1978, during which nearly 900 people drank cyanide-laced Flavor Aid, including nearly 300 children. To this day, "drinking the Kool-Aid" is a popular phrase in America to refer to people who blindly follow a person or idea without thought, and the event at Jonestown was the deadliest deliberate act involving Americans in history until the 9/11 attacks. In addition to those deaths, Peoples Temple members also murdered a handful of others on the same day, including journalists, a member trying to leave Jonestown, and Congressman Leo Ryan. Almost from birth, Jones believed he had a higher calling, and after being immersed in various Christian churches and both political and religious doctrine, Jones founded the Peoples Temple in Indianapolis in 1955, when he was still in his mid-20s. While that might have been an unusual course in life for most Americans, Jones was hardly the first to take such a path, and indeed, his group expanded at a remarkable pace in the 1960s, which included a move to California after Jones claimed to foresee a nuclear attack on Chicago and the destruction of Indianapolis. By the 1970s, services at the group's Temple attracted thousands of visitors, even as Jones increasingly criticized Christianity and the Bible. Of course, none of the previous locations earned the notoriety of Jonestown, which the Peoples Temple established in Guyana along the northern coast of South America in the mid-'70s. Meant to be a "socialist paradise" and "sanctuary" from America's "creeping fascism," over 900 members headed to the new settlement by 1978. That November, Congressman Leo Ryan arrived in Jonestown to investigate various claims about the Peoples Temple and met with some members who wished to defect from the group. In response, Jones issued a tape decrying outsiders' efforts and directing members to commit suicide, and when some pushed back, he chided them: "Stop these hysterics. This is not the way for people who are socialists or communists to die. No way for us to die. We must die with some dignity." Survivors described the ensuing event, during which children drank the poison first and were followed by parents who lay down to die as a family. Others indicated that Jones had simulated mass suicides on a couple of other occasions before to test members' loyalty as well, so people remained unsure whether the event was real, even as Jones told them, "I tell you, I don't care how many screams you hear, I don't care how many anguished cries...death is a million times preferable to ten more days of this life. If you knew what was ahead of you - if you knew what was ahead of you, you'd be glad to be stepping over tonight." Although many began to worry once they saw the poison take effect in others, most of those who drank the poison were dead within 5 minutes, while Jones apparently shot himself in the head. Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple: The History of the Most Notorious Cult and Mass Murder-Suicide in American History chronicles the notorious cult and the mass murder-suicide. Along with pictures of important people, places, and events, you will learn about the Peoples Temple like never before.
Author: Laura Johnston Kohl
Laura Johnston Kohl was a teen activist working to integrate public facilities in the Washington, D.C., area. She actively fought for civil rights and free speech, and against the Vietnam War throughout the 1960s. After trying to effect change single-handedly, she found she needed more hands. She joined Peoples Temple in 1970, living and working in the progressive religious movement in both California and Guyana. A fluke saved her from the mass murders and suicides on November 18, 1978, when 913 of her beloved friends died in Jonestown. Soon after this, Synanon, a residential community, helped her gradually affirm life. In 1991, she got to work, finished her studies, and became a public school teacher. On the 20th anniversary of the deaths in Jonestown, she looked up fellow survivors of the Jonestown tragedy and they have worked to put the jigsaw puzzle together that was Peoples Temple. Her perspective has evolved as new facts have cleared up mysteries and she has had time to reflect. Her mission continues to be to acknowledge, write about, and speak about why the members joined Peoples Temple, why they went to Guyana, and who they were. She lives with her family in San Diego. Laura appreciates feedback about her book, and especially likes clarifying information or answering questions that come up as you read. Contact her through her new website: www. jonestownsurvivor.com
Author: Benjamin E. Zeller
Publisher: NYU Press
In March 1997, thirty-nine people in Rancho Santa Fe, California, ritually terminated their lives. To outsiders, it was a mass suicide. To insiders, it was a graduation. This act was the culmination of over two decades of spiritual and social development for the members of Heaven’s Gate, a religious group focused on transcending humanity and the Earth, and seeking salvation in the literal heavens on board a UFO. In this fascinating overview, Benjamin Zeller not only explores the question of why the members of Heaven’s Gate committed ritual suicides, but interrogates the origin and evolution of the religion, its appeal, and its practices. By tracking the development of the history, social structure, and worldview of Heaven’s Gate, Zeller draws out the ways in which the movement was both a reflection and a microcosm of larger American culture.The group emerged out of engagement with Evangelical Christianity, the New Age movement, science fiction and UFOs, and conspiracy theories, and it evolved in response to the religious quests of baby boomers, new religions of the counterculture, and the narcissistic pessimism of the 1990s. Thus, Heaven’s Gate not only reflects the context of its environment, but also reveals how those forces interacted in the form of a single religious body. In the only book-length study of Heaven’s Gate, Zeller traces the roots of the movement, examines its beliefs and practices, and tells the captivating story of the people of Heaven’s Gate.