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The Horrors Behind the Horrors of Jonestown

Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People - Tim Reiterman

Fascinating historical account of the history of Jim Jones from childhood, through his early adulthood as a charismatic pastor in suburban Indianappolis, to becoming a cult leader in California, and then in British Guyana. Written by one of the San Francisco Chronical reporters who accompanied Congressman Ryan down to "Jonestown" in his fateful trip of November 1978, which resulted in a shootout which killed 5, and which caused Jones and his followers to commit mass-suicide. Ultimately 913 people died- the largest civilian loss of American lives up until 9/11. Several points were very well-explored here: 1) Jones' transition gradually to become a paranoid autocrat with God-delusions; 2) the mechanisms with which Jones took over his followers' finances, got them to take responsibilites for crimes he engineered (extortion, election fraud, kidnapping, etc) and how he even took legal guardianship and custody of followers' children to prevent them from leaving the cult; and 3) the shocking relationship between Jones and several figures in high office in the 1970s. Apparently Jones' "Peoples' Temple" voted as a massive block, which got Muscone elected mayor of San Francisco in '76. The Peoples' Temple also had sway with the California governors, and even got Jones an audience with First Lady Ros Carter. The tragedy of Jonestown is straight out of a horror movie, but it is really just the culmination of three decades of manipulation, deception and intimidation by Jones on everyone's life whom he touched. He is a first-order psychopath, up there with Hitler, Stalin and Mao.