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Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple: The History of the Most Notorious Cult and Mass Murder-Suicide in American History

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*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 *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.


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*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 *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.

30 review for Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple: The History of the Most Notorious Cult and Mass Murder-Suicide in American History

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jerry Jares

    The problem with this book is that it doesn't answer the 'why' of the Jonestown Massacre. The book does explain that the members were kept constantly busy, with little sleep. Thus, they may have not had the energy to question what Jim Jones was saying. What caused the associates to join and then stay? The book also didn't answer the questions about which (if any) of Jim Jones's family died? Did his children and wife die there? I also thought the end was rushed. They mentioned that one man was co The problem with this book is that it doesn't answer the 'why' of the Jonestown Massacre. The book does explain that the members were kept constantly busy, with little sleep. Thus, they may have not had the energy to question what Jim Jones was saying. What caused the associates to join and then stay? The book also didn't answer the questions about which (if any) of Jim Jones's family died? Did his children and wife die there? I also thought the end was rushed. They mentioned that one man was convicted of the congressman's murder and emerged from prison in 2002. Generally, the information that was offered was good. The book explains that Jones was an unusual child growing up. He founded his religion in Indianapolis in 1955. The book used extensive quotes from churchgoers, to give a flavor of the mind-set of the members. There were plenty of photos to carry the story along. What happened to Jonestown after the suicides? Is it still there? Where were the bodies buried? Where is Jim Jones buried?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Allies

    A good but not great book A good but not great book on the People's Temple and Jonestown. I liked that it used many primary sources but explanations in between and editing primary source quotes for length would have made it better. A good but not great book A good but not great book on the People's Temple and Jonestown. I liked that it used many primary sources but explanations in between and editing primary source quotes for length would have made it better.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Rose

  4. 5 out of 5

    tonya

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tiff Franks

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chalmation

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Page

  8. 5 out of 5

    MonochromeSphere

  9. 5 out of 5

    Aubrey James Jr

  10. 5 out of 5

    Foteini

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lorin

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michael Nolan

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sally

  14. 5 out of 5

    Connie Sapp

  15. 4 out of 5

    Donna Nichols

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  17. 5 out of 5

    EDWARD UPTON

  18. 4 out of 5

    Loretta M Nicholson

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tasha

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kayleen Sutton

  21. 4 out of 5

    Paul Carruth

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

  23. 4 out of 5

    Denise Kavanagh

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sandra McAllister

  25. 4 out of 5

    Candace

  26. 4 out of 5

    Heather Ackels

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lupe Hernandez

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

  29. 5 out of 5

    Emily Reynolds

  30. 5 out of 5

    Debb

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