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' life, from his extramarital affairs, drug use, and fraudulent faith healing to the fraught decision to move almost 1,000 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 900 people died - including almost 300 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' 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' orders. The Road to Jonestown is the definitive book about Jim Jones and the events that led to the tragedy at Jonestown.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Mrs on 10-08-17
Such an incredibly sad story. Starting with (what came to be) a relatively large group of people - setting out with the best of intentions. This is the tale of their trials and tribulations under the leadership of one man. A word of warning: the ending is not for the faint hearted. It is very well researched, written and narrated. I recommend it for anyone who wants the full story behind this infamous man and his followers.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Lisa M Crowell on 09-05-17
Religion, politics and death. The story of humans and their need to belong.
Charismatic individuals throughout history have succeeded in destroying the lives of entire generations. Jim Jones is no exception. This book explores the early years of Jones childhood and a glimpse into possible psychological effects of his upbringing. The Road to Jonestown is a must read for anyone fascinated with human behavior.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
By David on 26-04-17
A detailed and balanced portrait
What made the experience of listening to Road to Jonestown the most enjoyable?
The comments from the former members of the People's Temple
What did you like best about this story?
The detailed portrait of Jones. We got to see him at his best and his worst. Like many, I was quick to think the worst of Jones. While I am not going to excuse what he did in Guyana, the author does give credit where it is due (such as the social programs to fight racism and addiction).
If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?
The Life and Death of the People's Temple.
Any additional comments?
This might be better in print, just so you could keep track of who was involved with the People's Temple and in what capacity. However, it was a well written piece of history and was very even handed in how it handled the central figure of Jim Jones.
13 of 15 people found this review helpful