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Stranger Than Fiction!

Reviewing: Tim Reiterman With John Jacobs Raven, Rev. Jim Jones & His People  |  Rating:
eggy By eggy on
Badge: Advisor | Level: 17 | Other Entertainment Expertise:
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The 30 year anniversary of the Jonestown (Guyana) massacre was just recently. There was a lot of discussion about it. I was quite young and living in Singapore at the time, so I had no knowledge about Jim Jones or the Peoples Temple. The actual title of the book is "Raven, The Untold Story of Rev. Jim Jones and His People".

This book is very well researched. It was written by prize winning San Francisco Examiner journalist who was wounded in Guyana during the attack when US House of Representatives Member Leo Ryan and several others were killed.

The book follows Jones from his youth in Indiana through his career as a politically and monetarily motivated minister who incrementally changed his followers beliefs from traditional values into worshiping Jones himself.

After building his church in the Midwest, Jones migrated his followers to Ukiah in rural Northern California. Ukiah had been identified as one of the places in the U.S. that could survive a nuclear attack. Subsequently, he built a significant presence in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The scary thing about this book was how Jones was able to attract and con many intelligent people. Many well known California politicians and community leaders endorsed the Peoples Temple and the work of Jones. There were Peoples Temple members who were teachers, lawyers, social workers, etc. The number of people who were aware of Jone's deceptive practices, such as faked healings involving chicken parts and massive letter writing campaigns under false pretenses was also disturbing.

The book portrays Jones as an increasingly troubled individual who isolated his followers from their families and convinced them that "The Ends Justify the Means".

A large number of people turned over all their worldly possessions to the Peoples Temple and then moved to the church's Agricultural Project in Jonestown, Guyana (South America). Jones had accelerated the move of people to Jonestown to avoid legal pressure and scrutiny in the U.S.

More than 900 people died in Jonestown by either suicide or homicide in November of 1978. Most of the people died by drinking a drug and chemical laced purple punch. Though it frequently was referred to as Kool Aid, it was really Flavor Aid.

The hardback is about 580 pages plus notes. There are a number of photographs in the book. A new soft cover edition has recently been published.