Read The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple by Jeff Guinn Online


By the New York Times bestselling author of Manson, the comprehensive, authoritative, and tragic story of preacher Jim Jones, who was responsible for the Jonestown Massacre—the largest murder-suicide in American history.In the 1950s, a young Indianapolis minister named Jim Jones preached a curious blend of the gospel and Marxism. His congregation was racially integrated, aBy the New York Times bestselling author of Manson, the comprehensive, authoritative, and tragic story of preacher Jim Jones, who was responsible for the Jonestown Massacre—the largest murder-suicide in American history.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’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 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’s orders. The Road to Jonestown is the definitive book about Jim Jones and the events that led to the tragedy at Jonestown....

Title : The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple
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ISBN : 9781476763828
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 531 Pages
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The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple Reviews

  • Matt
    2019-03-20 14:38

    Pardon my rambling... my mind has not been this blown by a book in a long, long time!First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Jeff Guinn, and Simon & Schuster for providing me with a copy of this book, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.My ongoing trek though the world of biographies would not have been complete without a comprehensive piece about an individual who is often misunderstood in history. Jeff Guinn has provided this with his stellar piece on Jim Jones and the winding road to Jonestown, site of the infamous cult mass suicide in 1978. Guinn focusses the rise and power of Jim Jones, exemplifying his ability to hoard power and hone his leadership skills while captivating a following of the common person. Armed with the power of the delivered word and absolute authority, Jones sought not only to create the Peoples Temple to serve the disadvantaged, but also to instil complete loyalty in a socialist hierarchy, as contradictory as that might sound. The attentive and patient reader will discover countless examples of Jones' abilities as he becomes the textbook cult leader. (As it will surely rouse extensive debate, for the purposes of this review and my personal beliefs, I would define a 'cult' as an organisation premised on a certain type of beliefs, usually religious, whereby extrication is neither simple nor voluntary. I welcome those who wish to challenge me on this, though I do not bandy the word around for the fun of it!)Raised in a highly dysfunctional home in Lynn, Indiana, Jones stuck out at school and could regularly be found making long-winded sermons alone in the woods or organising healing services for roadkill. This religious upbringing was fostered by his curiosity in the numerous evangelical Christian options around town, even though his parents were the only family not found at any Sunday services. By adulthood, with a young wife by his side, Jones continued to foster his preaching and healing skills, soon part of the revival tour around the state. His ultimate goal, to form his own church that would target lower-income individuals and trying to link up with established black churches in and around Indianapolis. With the Red Scare in full force, Jones sought to utilise some of the socialist 'equality for all' in his sermons, bringing hope to any who would grace the sanctuary. His message was less one of godliness, but of the need to integrate the races and help one another, all this in the late 1950s and into the 60s. Developing a strong base, Jones formed the Peoples Temple and rallied as many as would attend on a regular basis. Even at this early stage, Jones tried to create a sense of power and a hierarchy, where followers would rely on him to help them solve problems as long as they turn over all earthly possessions to the Temple. Guinn hints at a duplicity here, where Jones could completely overtake his followers, while remaining above the fray and living as he saw fit.Always wanting more and seeing the lights of California, Jones turned his attention to Redwood Valley and the surrounding town of Ukiah, California. Situated between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Jones felt he could work effectively by integrating into a smaller community, yet still be able to pull followers from both major metropolitan areas. He was so effective in having his followers join him because of the impending nuclear holocaust that was sure to come from the Soviets, having recently been deterred during the Cuban Missile Crisis. (Yes, more duplicity, as he rallied to the Soviet-style collectivist notion of equality for all, yet chose to sit at the end of all!) Jones knew how to use the news to his advantage, demanding blind faith and complete trust that he had revelations about what the Peoples Temple ought to do. While Jones had to reestablish himself out West, many scouts and a strong advertising campaign in the less affluent neighbourhoods brought new recruits along with those who had heard of this captivating preacher. From there, Guinn explores many of the sexual encounters that Jones had (and sanctioned) within the Temple, citing the need to de-stress or share communally, though only within the confines of fellow Temple folk. Jones cemented a stronger sense of communal ownership by Temple faithful, going so far as to require all children born into the group be raised communally, where they would see parents only when Jones saw fit. Sex led to drugs and soon Jones relied on that to keep him going, all while his wife stood by and loyally tried to digest what was going on. Guinn explores sentiments of jealousy and angst, though Jones never sought to enter into polygamous marriages, choosing instead to share his body and time with at least two women regularly and others on an as needed basis. How could Jones profess these beliefs and hold firm to the reins of power? As Guinn explains, there was significant verbal and physical abuse administered, which would push straying members into line. Be it calling people out in sermons, browbeating in meetings, or blackmailing in private, Jones made sure that he held the upper hand to ensure obedience. If a member sought to leave the fold, Jones had pre-signed documentation or blank sheets that he could use and submit to the authorities, thereby pigeon-holing any who might make idle threats. Guinn offers numerous examples of the lengths to which Jones would go to command attention and total control over the lives of Temple members, from the new recruits to his own wife, seen as the second-in-command of the entire organisation. Using his prowess to rally the troops, Jones became a favourite of the political candidates in the Bay Area, helping to secure votes and rallying the electorate, though the expectation was a system of quid pro quo, usually forgotten after the ballots were counted.Negative press haunted Jones and he began developing an escape plan from California, looking to the small and recently independent country of Guyana. The country appealed to Jones, as it held strong socialist views as well as significant area for agricultural cultivation; a heavenly commune for collectivist living. Jones soon laid the foundation for the Temple's new home, aptly named Jonestown, which was isolated enough that government officials would not come knocking. Holding his followers in awe and paying for their travel, Jones brought hundreds down to the country in a series of trips, where they settled and the commune took shape, strengthening the idea of a cult, through geographic isolation, both from families and American authorities (Guyana had no extradition treaty with the United States). Legal actions were beginning in San Francisco courts by family members of those in the Peoples Temple, citing kidnapping or illicit seizure of property from members. This soon led to continued bad press, though only in those locations where the Temple had a footprint. This soon caused US Congressman Leo Ryan to organise a trip to investigate some of the concerns. Armed with scores of letters and members of the media, Ryan tried to explore the truthfulness of the Temple's assertions that all were happily residing in Guyana. He found few issues and only a handful of members who wished to leave. Guinn uses the last few chapters to explore the US expedition to Guyana and the fallout as Jones saw his complete control slipping away. Stunning writing on Guinn's part shows the lengths to which Jim Jones would go to hold complete control. The eventual mass suicide and assassination of the outsiders at the direction of the leader led to a body count of over 900, including Ryan himself. Jones and the entire Jonestown community soon became international headline news, having escaped much mention during their entire time in South America. The common (and erroneous) phrase that came out of those final hours in Jonestown remains "Don't drink the Kool-Aid [actually Flavor Aid]", which the reader will discover has lasted for decades since the event. All the same, the power Jones held over his followers is phenomenal and the reader will surely finish the book wondering as much as understanding his sway.Was Jim Jones an evil man or simply one who allowed power to go to his head? Even Guinn does not have a definitive answer, but this biography is so detailed and well-paced that the reader will surely come away with their own opinions. Many books have been written about Jonestown and Jim Jones, though all seem to offer sensationalised accounts of events or are completely weighted to one side, forcing the curious reader to sit through diatribes or blatant vilification. Guinn has used much time and effort to offer a complete look at the man, interviewing those who are still alive (due to age and the obvious sacrifice in Guyana) as well as all the documents he could recover to tell the story. A feat that not many would have taken, Guinn uses his wonderful narrative to tell the dénouement as honestly as he can. Like the other biography of his that I have read, Guinn forges headlong into the tough topics and questions, emerging with answers that defy simple religious or cultish vilification, which offers the reader a much more comprehensive approach. I can now speak about Jonestown with greater authority and understand much of the life of Jim Jones and what led him to that fateful day on November 18, 1978. I would strongly encourage anyone with the patience to read such a detailed tome to digest all that Guinn has to offer, for he refuses to sermonise, preventing the the reader from, pardon the remark, "drinking the Kool-Aid".Kudos, Mr. Guinn for your stunning effort with this piece. This is a sensational delivery of what has to be a very difficult topic. You have entertained, educated, and armed me for discussions about this and other cult groups, which seem to surround me as I forge ahead with more biographies.Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at:

  • Esil
    2019-03-19 21:47

    The Road to Jonestown was fascinating -- and depressing. I listened to the audio. The author, Jeff Guinn, did a great job of tracing Jim Jones' history and the events leading up to the mass suicide in Jonestown. It's a good study of the making of a narcissistic paranoid megalomaniac. It's still hard for me to understand how Jones attracted and kept his many followers, but I feel that I get it a bit more. Jones had a great need for approval and adulation, and he seemed to be able to zero in on people who were vulnerable -- whether psychologically or materially. While Jones' relationship with his followers was ripe for many abuses -- including his ultimate abuse at the end -- it is clear that many people were drawn to Jones' message that he was their true protector against a world intent on hurting them. Guinn also manages to be fair in his portrayal, showing how Jones started off with decent ideas about racial and economic equality, but how his insatiable appetite for adulation and power combined with his paranoia overtook anything good in The People's Temple. It may be hard for some to read given that we all know what happens at the end, but I certainly found it worth the time. While the outcome in Jonestown is off the charts, this is not a unique example of people blindly following a demented leader. It's worth trying to understand how that can happen. For those who like audiobooks, it's worth noting that the audio version is also well read.

  • Julie
    2019-02-27 15:31

    The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and the People’s Temple by Jeff Guinn is a 2017 Simon & Schuster publication. Thoroughly chilling…While I was only in my early teens in 1978, I still recall the news footage of the “Jonestown Massacre”. I understood on some level what had happened, but I couldn’t fully digest it. I tried not to watch the news reports and steered clear of conversations about it because it made me extremely uncomfortable. It was too much for me to cope with, and in all honesty, I still can’t wrap my head around it. Part of me wanted to read this book, in hopes of garnering some understanding of how something like this happened. But, another part of me didn’t want to relive that horrible piece of history where over nine hundred people lost their lives. But, the outstanding reviews convinced me to read it and while I still find these events quite upsetting, I am glad I read the book. To say this was a comprehensive account of Jim Jones’ life is an understatement of epic proportions. This book is an exacting, well researched, serious and non-biased, look at one of the most monstrous cult leaders of all time. We all know how this will end. The question is- How did it begin?I won’t make this into a book report, if I can help it, but I did want to touch on some of the impressions I was left with. One of the weirdest things about all this, is that it didn’t start out as being all that different from many fundamentalist church doctrines or beliefs. Jim’s wife was zealously religious and the couple did present themselves as believing in God and practiced the core Christian values most of us are familiar with. It is easy to see how Jim ingratiated himself into the ministry profession, and why he experienced praise for his genuine service and help to those in need. He was particularly sensitive to the black community and freely welcomed them and worshipped alongside them in a time when such actions raised eyebrows. However, he quickly shucked off any semblance of being a true believer and began working the tent revival circuit, faked healings, and performed 'miracles' including raising people from the dead. But, there was an audience for that sort of thing, especially in that era of time, and he was hardly the only one out there working that particular con. But, religion and doing good deeds were not the cult’s only draw. I was amazed at how political it was. Jones was an ardent socialist, and I think many people joined his ‘church’ because these ideals, without embracing any ‘religious’ worship of God. This book took me on stunning and harrowing journey, step by horrifying step, as he morphed into an actual cult leader and managed to mesmerize his followers into doing anything he wanted them to. I won’t go into the details because I want you to see for yourself how vile, narcissistic, cruel, contradictory, and sick he really was. It is an incredible profile of a man who conned, swayed, manipulated, lied, and corrupted so many people, yet managed to amass wealth, while rubbing elbows with celebrities, and politicians, who often praised him for his good deeds!! As the book progresses, we see how as his psychosis deepened, and as his power increased so did his ego, and his darker tendencies completely took over, fueled by his paranoia need for control and by his use of drugs. So, the closer I came to the climactic events in “Jonestown”, I began to dread having to read it in such graphic details.The phrase, ‘ don’t drink the Koolaid’ (it wasn’t really the trademarked “Koolaid”, but ‘Flavor-aid- a cheaper, generic brand), is a familiar one, used to insult anyone exhibiting a certain level of gullibility, and became a common pop culture saying. "The Jonestown deaths quickly became renowned not as grandly defiant revolutionary gesture, but that ultimate example of human gullibility”Cults didn’t go away after the Jonestown massacre. There were still headline grabbing standoffs and more mass suicides, although nothing that ever came close to topping Jonestown. But, it SEEMED that maybe with a more enlightened, educated, progressive majority in America, these charismatic charlatans may have finally lost their appeal or ability to lure mass followings, as we began to hear less and less about religious cults. "Demagogues recruit by uniting a disenchanted element against an enemy, then promising to use religion or politics or a combination of the two to bring about rightful change.”While I swore to myself I would not go here, I could not help but notice parallels between Jim Jones’ personality traits, such as his inability to delegate or share or his penchant to lash out, deflect, punish, seek restitution, and refuse any hint of apology or compromise, but still managed to lure in folks, knowing just what they needed and wanted to hear, thus securing an almost unshakable loyalty, are traits that are noticeably prevalent in other prominent ‘leaders’ who have come into power. The resemblance was so eerily uncanny at times I still get chills down my spine thinking about it. ‘The less he was recognized and appreciated by the outside world, the grander he proclaimed himself to the followers remaining to him.’One of the most gruesome pictures included in this book is a photo depicting many of the deceased lying face down in what looked like a grass hut pavilion with a sign hanging on the wall, directly above Jones’ personal chair, that stated:Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.Even though I did remember the events that took place in Guyana in 1978, I never sought to learn more about Jim Jones than was necessary. So, most of what was detailed here I was largely unaware of. I have to tell you, it’s pretty shocking. Jim Jones is one of the strangest people I’ve ever read about! He was crazy, but smart, did kind and compassionate things for people in need, was incredible charismatic, but could turn on someone in an instant, meting out horrific punishments, both physical and psychological. He could switch from mean to incredibly nice in an instant. He was delusional, believing himself to be God, and expected unquestionable loyalty from his followers, and he usually got it. But it started to unravel and disillusionment did start to set in, with some questioning his decisions or outright refusing to obey. Yet, as we all know, many remained enthralled right up to the bitter end. I can’t praise the author enough for the clear, concise layout used here. The book is organized, well -constructed, is presented chronologically, and reads like a true crime novel in many ways. I was riveted, glued to the pages, still unable to grapple with the reality of Jones’ life and the path he ultimately took to Guyana. There may always be a part of my heart and mind that can’t accept that over 900 people drank cyanide laced punch at his behest, including children. This book, though, left me with no place to hide, forcing me to accept these events as a gruesome, hideous, and incredibly tragic part of America’s history. My fervent hope is that history never repeats itself. 5 stars

  • Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
    2019-03-17 13:40

    So I've always sort of had a grim fascination with cults & extreme religious groups. It's one of humanity's most despicable tendencies, but it's incredibly interesting to me to see how groups of otherwise intelligent people become entrapped in factions like this that are so easy to condemn in hindsight.This story in particular held my attention because:1. Many folks I know were actually alive when the tragedy of Jim Jones & Peoples Temple came about, as it happened in the late 70's. This makes the story feel very relevant.2. Until I stumbled across this book, I was under the impression that Jones himself was a religious zealot & that his cult was formed wholly around a religious purpose.Upon finishing, I see that this cult was actually formed upon a basis of social change, but under a religious guise.Jim Jones is well known for performing his "miracles," calling himself a reincarnation of God, etc., but for some reason I had never really heard that the driving force behind his organization was actually Socialism. But while Jones was impressed with the aspects of a Socialist society that brought equal wealth & opportunity to all, it's not accurate to say that he successfully represented the ideals he preached. For example, author Jeff Guinn notes that Jones' ideology specifically sought to alleviate the plight of African-Americans, but the social structure of his temple never empowered members of his African-American congregation. Guinn does an excellent job taking readers through the life of Jones from his early childhood up to the events at the end of his life that made him infamous, noting the aspects of his upbringing & personality that created the perfect combination for a successful, manipulative leader. The story of Jones' life is pieced together in a way that makes it clear how his web of influence slowly grew into an intimidating & unquestionable force that lured so many to their deaths. It's frightening to hear the snippets of testimony from survivors that are included in this biography. While many were devoted followers, still a notable number of folks who became entangled in Peoples Temple either began as dissenters or were privy to Jones' false performances. Some cited their reason for staying involved as having hope that Jones would really bring about social change, while others said that their gut instinct was overridden by the fact that so many other people they loved & respected were staying. It can't be wrong if all these other people feel it's right, right?And this is exactly why it's so important for us to teach children early in their lives to question everything, heed their own instincts, and know what it feels like to think for themselves. I'm not necessarily saying that none of the members of Peoples Temple were capable of those things. Tons of people throughout the history of human existence have fallen in behind dictators & religious leaders who have ultimately led them awry, and it's a foolish notion to believe you are not capable of falling into the same trap. But if there's anything to be taken from reading this story & others like it, it's the importance of familiarizing ourselves with what these situations look like & feel like. Recognizing the warning signs is one of the first defense mechanisms available when faced with a master manipulator. When people are able to confidently trust their own judgement, they become a lot more difficult to manipulate. When the next Jim Jones begins to gather followers, prior exposure to the concepts & tactics used by previous leaders could make all the difference.This is an eye-opening & comprehensive biography, written in a logical & approachable way. I recommend it for anyone & everyone who reads.

  • Myrna
    2019-03-13 15:40

    Won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. After I received it, I met the author at the San Antonio Book Festival and got my book signed!!!! In The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and the People's Temple, the author does a good job describing Jim Jones and the events that lead up to the suicide-murder through extensive research and interviews. I remember hearing about it on the car radio (when I was a youngen) yet not truly understanding the horrendous act until many years later. If you want to learn new details as I did or want know the story behind Jones and Jonestown, this is the book to read.

  • abby
    2019-03-19 19:27

    This book is mostly composed of what I can only describe as administrative details of Jim Jones's People Temple. Pages and pages and pages of unimportant, forgettable detail. The move to Jonestown, where 900 Americans would meet their tragic end in the Guyanese jungle at the orders of their cult leader, doesn't even happen until 350 pages into the book. The murder/suicide itself gets crammed into about 3 paragraphs. I don't understand why this author chose to prioritize the irrelevant and gloss over the significant. I would not recommend this. I gave this book 2 stars-- the third star is for me for slogging through this (my husband got me this as a Christmas present, so I was more or less contractually obligated).

  • Lauren
    2019-03-12 20:43

    "Her fear was that a mass suicide would not be appreciated as a sincere and historic statement: 'I know we can't worry about how [what we do] will be interpreted... maybe in some 50 years someone will understand and perhaps be motivated. I don't have much illusion about all that. I just hate to see it all go for naught.'- Carolyn Layton, Peoples Temple member, and mother of one of Jim Jones' childrenJeff Guinn lays everything out in The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple - he retraces the earliest days, Jones' childhood in rural Indiana, and catapults towards the last day in November 1978. The story is riveting - perhaps because we all know the ending and we are so curious how something could go so wayward and catastrophically wrong - and part because Guinn's research is so in-depth. He uses a multitude of sources: interviews with survivors and defectors, extensive records of the "church" (I hesitate to even call it that), and Jones' own rambling words - he recorded many sermons/diatribes and didn't hold anything back.I knew the basics of the END of the story - but this book pays special attention to show the lives and the work of the Peoples Temple well before it turned into Jones' own megalomaniac playground (disputed when this actually started...) A few things that I had no idea about, and now I know, thanks to this book:- Peoples Temple helped hundreds, maybe thousands, of people with their social programs. Elder care, substance abuse rehab, lowering recidivism in urban areas, paying college tuition, alleviating hunger, providing housing/clothing to whomever asked... even digging a well and fixing septic tanks. These things are undeniable... however things really started to go south when Jones later demanded that members cash out their pensions, their retirements, and give all of their Social Security/disability checks and 100% of their savings to the Temple. Forget tithing - this was hundredthing.- Not a surprise, but Jones was doped up for about a decade of his life. His signature dark sunglasses protected his incredibly bloodshot and sensitive eyes, although he claimed he needed to wear them to save other people from his laser vision.- He was a charlatan and huckster from an early age. He continued this racket for years, claiming he could heal and bring people back from the dead. A favorite and often-used trick: chicken offal as "passed" cancerous tumors, produced by his planted members during healing services. Blech.- As I mentioned before, I knew the end of the story, but I didn't know all of the things that lead up to the final event, specifically the involvement of Congressman Ryan and the media entorage. We get a play-by-play, and while Guinn is respectful in his writing, it is hard to read the details of those last few hours at Jonestown.Guinn includes a sum up chapter with several updates and check-ins with people he has introduced over the book. I was surprised, however, that he didn't include a followup of Congresswoman Jackie Speier. As a survivor of the massacre (but not a member of the Peoples Temple), she has a very unique story to tell - and she shares some of it in this article, Congresswoman Left for Dead at Jonestown Recalls the Massacre, 37 Years Later but Guinn does not list her among the interviews, or provide any update on this elected official from the state of California. Curious that there wouldn't be a quote or even an interview in this book from an incumbent member of the US House of Representatives who has shared her story in other sources. Why not here in this new authoritative text?One of the last sentences of the book struck me, shared by Jim Jones Jr., one of the surviving sons of Jim and Marceline Jones: 'Kool-Aid rather than equality is what the rest of the world remembers. The survivors are left to console themselves...' Jim Jones Jr. sighs, smiles, and concludes, 'What I'd say about Peoples Temple is, we failed, but damn, we tried.'That quote stood out, in contrast to the first I shared, at the beginning of the post - "it all go for naught" to "Kool-Aid". Highly recommended. Set some time aside, as you'll have a hard time putting this one down.

  • Joseph
    2019-03-07 16:36

    An purchase.I am old enough to remember the news accounts of Jonestown back in 1978 and the self-inflicted for the most part) deaths of 918 people -- children to seniors. I often wondered what would drive people to such fanatical support of a leader that they would be willing to die for a cause that did not merit it. It was not Mesada. There was no invasion. For the most part, Jones brought it down on himself and through a very paranoid but methodical brain ended the lives of his followers. People who followed him across the country and to another continent. Jones is a complicated person. He fought for civil rights. Actively encouraged the integration of African-Americans into his church. He stood up to creditors. He volunteered his followers to help where needed. He staged peaceful protests over Jim Crow laws. He won the respect of many local and state leaders. He was a man with a mission. The mission becomes the blurry part of Jones. Was he fully behind his Christian socialism or was it merely a means for him to gain power over others. Whatever his original motives he slid into drugs and corruption. The Road to Jonestown chronicles the life of Jim Jones from before his birth to the aftermath of Jonestown. It is an incredible story mixing the most basic tenant of socialism and Christianity -- care for your fellow man, helping the poor, equality. All these Jones and his Peoples Temple accomplished and diligently worked for. Even the Church's name Peoples Temple did not have an apostrophe after the "s". It was a temple for all people, not a temple owned by people. There was no clear snap in Jones behavior. It changed gradually and was not noticed or that those who did notice though the good of their work was great than Jones' deception. One may wonder how a person could have so much control over lives of others and how people would happily give up everything for a single person or organization. This book explains in great detail the life of Jones and the history of the Peoples Temple yet will still leave the reader wondering how it all happened. The facts are all present in the book, but the results still leave questions in rational minds.

  • Michelle
    2019-03-18 16:44

    The Road to Jonestown- Jim Jones and Peoples Temple” is among the best comprehensive and authoritative books written covering the Jonestown massacre that claimed the lives of 918 people in Guyana, South America on November 18, 1978. Author Jeff Guinn began his extensive research in 2014, and studied the fascinating story behind the grim and sensational media reports and headlines. There are thousands of documents and photographs contained in government archives on Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple, interviews with survivors and those associated including spouses, relatives, friends and others who shared valuable insight related to the tragedy: as a shocking truthful biographical portrait emerged of the Reverend James Warren Jones (1931-78).The birth of Jim Jones (JJ) wasn’t welcomed or celebrated; his mother Lynetta Putnam (1902-77) was profoundly disappointed with her third marriage to James Thurman Jones (1887-1951), a disabled WWI veteran. Though Lynetta believed her son would one day be a great man, she had no maternal instinct, remaining indifferent and detached from the growth and development of her only child. JJ learned from an early age to get the attention and acceptance he needed from sympathetic neighbors and relatives who often took him to church: there he would learn tactics to influence and manipulate others to ease his fragile ego and self-esteem. As a young man, JJ studied the writing of Marx, Stalin, and Hitler-- also Mahatma Gandhi. Once affiliated with the Communist party, his ideology was based on racial equality, economic and social justice; religion was used as a means to promote his agenda through the pulpit.Marceline (Baldwin) Jones (m.1949-78) was stunned to learn JJ views on the Biblical gospel, and nearly divorced him. The desire to improve the world through socialism was more important and attainable; she would always support this vision. The couple had one biological son, would be the first white family to adopt a black child, and added several mixed race children to their “Rainbow Family”. Ronnie, their first foster child, protested adoption by Jones, demanding to be returned to his mother instead.In 1965, JJ relocated Peoples Temple to Ukiah, CA. leaving the racially intolerant culture in Indiana; he also had an irrational fear of nuclear war. At the Redwood Valley location, the Temple reached the highest level of popularity and power, attracting followers from every walk of life. Members lived communally, pooling income and resources, caring for the sick, disabled, young and elderly in church sponsored homes. Social services of food banks, thrift stores, farming catered to the community and needs of the poor. JJ allegedly healed the sick and cast out demons, in dramatic charismatic services of loud singing and praise, preaching at the pulpit in dark glasses and long flowing robes. Underneath it all, there were highly disturbing things that were profoundly wrong with JJ, which Guinn discussed in a surprising non-judgmental manner. Most of the shocking aspects related to his conduct and behavior remained unknown to general membership.By 1974, Peoples Temple had expanded to San Francisco, busloads of Temple members arrived at various political rallies, officials were elected that supported socialist causes and tolerance for racially diverse and LGBT populations. In 1976, additional concerns/problems involving Jones/Peoples Temple surfaced; leading to official investigations. Relatives of some Temple members were also greatly distressed that their loved ones were being held against their will, after JJ suddenly moved the majority of his followers to Jonestown.In a documentary narrative it was said that historians will need to examine and re-examine the tragedy of Jonestown throughout time. Visiting the site where Jonestown once stood was the most disturbing and difficult things Guinn had ever done. Following the massacre, the jungle reclaimed the haunted ground—it happened quickly, a simple memorial marker was placed at the site in honor of those so tragically lost. ~ Many thanks to Simon and Schuster via NetGalley for the direct digital copy for the purpose of review.

  • Carlos
    2019-03-04 17:31

    I am giving this book5 stars because of how it chose to handle its theme, with facts, well researched mentions and from all perspectives possible. The story of Jonestown is one we all think we know ....but how did we got was one man able to "dupe" thousands of people into killing them selves? .... could this had been prevented? ....who was Jim jones and what did he want ? .....all of these questions are addressed by this author in this book and the narrative flows very times you forget this book is essentially the last hours of thousands of people and that one man was responsible for all of it . Was Jim jones an evil person bent on taking as many down with him? ...or was he a person corrupted by personal ambition and influenced by his upbringing and made worse by his constant use of heavy drugs? ....Thousands of people chose to trust him .... this books attempts to answer the question that follows : WHY?

  • Donna Davis
    2019-03-25 16:38

    The good news is that Jeff Guinn tells us everything there is to know about Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple.The bad news is that Jeff Guinn tells everything there is to know about Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple. This reviewer was just out of high school when the media frenzy emerged around the mass suicide of hundreds of Americans living in a cult called The Peoples Temple, which was sequestered in the equatorial jungles in Guyana, South America. No one could understand it; why would so many people follow such a flimflam man, and why would they be persuaded to ‘drink the Koolaid’? I wanted to know; the whole thing boggles the imagination. I read it free and early, thanks to Net Galley and Simon and Schuster. I read it more slowly than I usually do, not because the narrative isn’t compelling, but because of the content. The opening chapters of the story are darkly funny, but as we move forward, there are times when I feel as if I am gargling sewage. I deal with the conflicting emotions by alternating it with other books, and I finish all of them and move on to other things before I finish this one. I could only take so much in one sitting! Just so you know; you’ve been warned.Jones was obsessed with religion, even as a child. Unfortunately, he was also the kind of kid that would trick a puppy into walking out of a high window and falling to its death. He just really liked control, and as he got older, the compulsion grew worse instead of better. In the early 1960s, Jones started a church in Indianapolis. His wife, Marceline, was proud to be the preacher’s wife, and they shared a genuine desire to integrate the city at a time when the deep South was being forced to end Jim Crow, but nobody else was asking anything of the sort of Northern industrial cities. He funded his mission by conducting traveling revivals tent-style. He persuaded gullible audiences that he had a supernatural capacity to heal others; the audience plants that he brought understood that sometimes faith required a little help. Fear and control enabled Jones to move much of his congregation with him when he packed up and headed for the supposedly nuke-proof town of Ukiah, California. After that, it was like a downhill snowball. The amazing thing is that this man and his oddball group were so widely accepted for many years, even praised by local politicians and celebrities. But then things began to unravel, and he told his followers it was time for the most ardent believers to move with him to The Promised Land.The most amazing thing to me is that he didn’t have to rope people in to move to the jungle; he made them compete for the honor. Guinn’s documentation is strong, mostly based on interviews with survivors and the vast files left behind by Jones and his people. The narrative flows well and never slows, and part of that is due to the lack of formal footnotes, but the endnotes provided for each chapter, along with the list of interviews, in-text source references, and bibliography are beyond reproach. Best of all, he has no axe to grind. For those that want to know, this is it. I doubt you’ll find a better single book on this subject anywhere. It’s available for sale as of today

  • Erin *Help I’m Reading and I Can’t Get Up*
    2019-02-28 20:37

    Utterly riveting. Well-written, journalistic-- not sensational. The author occasionally repeats some key facts, apparently not realizing that readers won't be able to put this down and therefore won't need reminding of facts we just read an hour or two ago!

  • britt_brooke
    2019-02-26 14:50

    “Who wants to go with their child has a right .... I think it’s humane.” - Jim JonesI only knew vague details, and only of the end result, prior to reading this. My god, this story is fascinating, captivating, and truly devastating. Definitely one of my top reads of this year.The audio is impeccably narrated. I also grabbed the ebook for the times I couldn’t listen. I preferred the audio, but there’s a photo section in the ebook (like the physical book) that really adds to the story. If you really want to be disturbed, google the AP images. Holy hell.

  • Ctgt
    2019-02-25 13:30

    On Jones's instructions, Larry Schacht ordered one pound of sodium cyanide, enough for eighteen hundred lethal doses. It cost $8.85.I remember this from my youth but at the time I just chalked it up to another cult following their charismatic leader to a very gruesome end. Never really thought too much about it after that. This was an interesting look at Jones from his childhood through his early years as he tried to establish himself as a religious leader. Fairly early on his religious leanings started to morph into a more socialist agenda but he was careful to tailor his message to the type of crowd he was engaging. He honed his speaking skills in the tent revival circuit and used typical huckster methods of sending followers into the crowd ahead of time to glean information that was used later to amaze the crowd.Many of his early efforts were legitimate and aimed primarily at helping minorities, the poor and the under represented. Typically, as his congregation and power grew so did his self importance and egomania, spiraling down the slide of drugs, sex and paranoia until those horrific final moments in the jungle of Guyana.9/10

  • Caidyn (BW Book Reviews; he/him/his)
    2019-03-01 21:33

    This review and others can be found at BW Book Reviews.3.5/5I received this ARC from Netgalley and the publisher for an honest review.My first brush with Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple was through a movie called The Sacrament, which is basically a fictional (and semi-paranormal) retelling of it. Tons of the reviews for it talked about Jim Jones so I researched on the internet and read up on the actual Peoples Temple. Their fate and the suicide and Jones' corruption. So, I had a rudimentary idea of things going into this book, but I was completely off base with how I thought this book would be.As the title suggests, and I was too dense to pick up, it's all about how they got to Jonestown. So if you want a bit of juicy gossip about the suicides and last moments, this isn't the book for you. One chapter is dedicated to that. The third to last chapter. The last two chapters are about the immediate aftermath and the long-term aftermath.You might be thinking, then what the hell is this book all about? Well, it's about Jim himself. The first chapters talk about his upbringing and immediate family, then his family. You also learn about his wife, Marceline, and various things about their lives. I mean, you go through everything. From the beginning of his life to becoming a priest and into the Peoples Temple. There's everything that you wanted to know and more.For me, that was a bit dull. It's very repetitive and Guinn handles it in a very balanced way. While I appreciate that since I know he's just telling me the information, not trying to twist my emotions. He really just wanted to show every aspect. The good that Jones did and the bad. Perhaps that he had good intentions then got twisted, or that he had bad intentions the whole time. Guinn leaves it up for the reader to decide.What you learn is about Jones himself. His life. How he got to that point in his life. What happened in the past years and months that led to the mass suicide. It was good, but perhaps not what I really wanted. This definitely gave me a great basis for how Jonestown happened, which was exactly Guinn's point for this book.

  • Amy
    2019-03-07 18:51

    Jeff Guinn's comprehensive account of Jim Jones covers all facets of his life and work, leading to the day in November 1978 when 918 died, most by their own hand, on orders from their leader.Jones' life started out with an ambitious but not very industrious mother who married for money and a good name but ended up with an injured WWII veteran who had sustained nerve gas damage and would eventually self-medicate himself into the grave. Jim's mother, forced to work and with little patience for children, turned Jim out of the house most days and he was "raised" by multiple families in the small neighborhood, particularly Myrtle Kennedy who introduced Jim to her Nazarene faith. Soon enough Jim was making the rounds to all the churches in town, eventually practicing his own sermons and forcing school mates to sit and listen.Jones was also very ambitious and well liked by most, as he had a natural charm and even better intuition for what people wanted to hear. After marrying young, he and his wife Marceline went about starting their own church. Both believed strongly in civil rights, caring for the elderly and assisting the poor and downtrodden but above all they believed in socialism. What was not so clear was whether or not Jim ever believed in God or the messages in the Bible. The church seemed to be the only means for him to get the followers he craved, but more often than not, it was his assistance in rectifying wrongs and performing "miracles" that won over his congregants. He also hosted traveling revivals which brought in money and new congregants. Eventually, he would have a well oiled machine, with money pouring in to the church and going out to help the community and willing, free labor from the congregants who would turn over their money and often their cars and homes to the church."No one joined Peoples Temple with the intent of doing harm or achieving subjugation. Instead, they felt better about themselves by doing good things for others."But with the good, there was a whole world of bad under the surface. Jones' need for complete control and his insatiable desire for more followers and more influence in the world would ultimately be the church's undoing. He was an emotionally abusive husband, overly obsessed with sex, often describing the act in explicit detail to children and teens. Eventually he would take lovers, both men and women followers, feeling it was his right to do so. He also had a burgeoning pill addiction which would grow exponentially worse over time.As he grew his church it became more difficult for him to hang onto his followers while he traveled and his one-on-one assistance and "miracles" took a backseat. He began attempting to take over other churches to build up his own, he had entered politics to help with getting his way on certain church projects, his followers were enlisted to help tip elections or start writing campaigns to garner favors for the church.Jones had already moved his church headquarters from Indiana to California, bankrupting many church members who made the move and rendering them completely reliant on the church. Many of the new members were poor as well, but their children flourished with the many programs available to them. Even if the adults were not on board with all that Jones had to say, they stayed for their children. The church flourished for a time and Jones felt pretty invincible, but it didn't take long for his many acts of betrayal to catch up with him. He had been arrested for a sex act in a movie theatre, several college students as well as a few early prominent members had defected from the church and threatened to go public with Jones' misdeeds and crumbling political affiliations threatened to undo his work in the community. He was being sued for custody of a child he had with an ex-member of the church. As he became more desperate to keep control of all facets of the church, his means to do so became more dangerous. Corporeal punishment was being administered, leaders of the church were required to sign affidavits stating their guilt on a number of made up crimes and his illegitimate children were signed over to him for full custody. He had been considering another move for his church and the time had come.Guyana's government found a mutual benefit in having an American commune on the disputed border of Guyana and Venezuela. Venezuela wouldn't dare attack Americans for fear of American military retribution, so the agreement was quickly made to rent a large swathe of land in the jungle to The Peoples Temple.Once the campgrounds in Guyana were inhabitable, Jones began sending followers there quickly. The church had already begun sending money (and smuggling gold bars, drugs and rifles) to the campsite. Jones turned to further scare tactics to keep his followers in line, including running defense drills in case they were attacked by local guerrilla armies. The idea of mass suicide was also quickly introduced as a way to send a powerful message that their beliefs were more important then their actual lives.The campsite was overcrowded with not enough supplies and food to go around to support people working in the jungle all day. Jones' sermons became more outrageous and paranoid and the pills he was abusing were taking a toll. A group of concerned relatives formed a group and enlisted congressman Leo Ryan to visit the site and try to encourage family members to come home. About 20 or so people decided to leave. Jones, in a drugged state allowed it but sent several of his bodyguards to the airfield, where they opened fire, killing the congressman and four others. Meanwhile at the site, Jones was already having his staff hand out Flavor Aid laced with cyanide to his followers and having children administered the drug by syringe into their mouths. The children and elderly were the first to die. Most followers did not want to die but were more scared by the impending army coming to massacre them, which Jones had been preparing them for for months. When the Guyana army did arrive, after a frantic call from the pilot at the airfield that witnessed the shooting, they found stacks and stacks of dead bodies. Most were too decomposed to identify by the time all were uncovered. Instead of a grand statement and message to capitalist America, it was simply a tragedy. I appreciated the author's thoroughness and detail. The book read like a narrative with only a few quotes taken from members in modern day; otherwise you are immersed almost completely from beginning to end in Jones' life and the church. I'll admit that I did not want to spend so much time with this person. While he accomplished a great deal and truly did some good (in the beginning), his methods and his heart were in a dark place. These type of people are so fascinating in theory because they sway multitudes and convince them of incomprehensible acts. How do they become this way? Why do they make these choices? What is driving them? I'm not sure we'll ever know the definitive answer, but The Road to Jonestown certainly made a valiant attempt.

  • Irene
    2019-03-22 16:32

    You probably know the expression... "don't drink the Kool-Aid." You may not know it was actually a cheap knock off called "flavor-aid" laced with cyanide that hundreds of people were forced to drink under threat of armed guards that fateful day in a South American jungle. Years ago I saw a short documentary on Jim Jones, but until reading this book I never knew the road to Jonestown was paved with good intentions. The Peoples Temple began with like minded people who wanted only to help the downtrodden, to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. Elderly people were housed in nursing homes by followers of Jim Jones where even if they could not afford to pay, were given care that met or exceeded state standards. Young people were given college educations that they never could have paid for on their own. They were made to feel that Jim Jones truly cared about them, and at first maybe he did. Then it all began to go horribly wrong. This detailed and factual account begins before Jim Jones was even born to a negligent mother who wouldn't allow him to be in the house when she wasn't home, and a sickly father who was too weak to stand up to her. It ends with the aftermath of murder and suicide that took 918 lives. If you ever wondered why or how so many people could allow themselves to be led astray this is the book for you. 5 stars from me.I received an advance copy for review.

  • Aaron Mcquiston
    2019-03-21 16:45

    Jonestown has been something of a curiosity to me most of my adult life. When they first started building in Guyana, my grandparents were Christian missionaries there, and one story about their time there was preaching to some people in Georgetown and someone saying, "Like the Messiah that is coming to Guyana to save everyone." This person was talking about Jim Jones, and it is odd to me that my mother was in the same place at the same time as the Peoples Temple, in their final days. Of course I have probably crossed paths with Jim Jones or the legacy of his works more than once, considering Indianapolis is the capital of my state, and when I did go to church, it was the re-branded "Disciples of Christ" denomination, renamed "United Church of Christ". I know that this denomination has no real influences in the individual churches unless you ask them for help, so it is no surprise that Jones had very little problem with them. This story has been on my radar for years and years, and I always knew the basic outline, from Indy to California to Guyana, from good works and social justice and equality for people of color to paranoia and drug abuse, and from being a good leader, sticking up for the less fortunate and trying to make life better for everyone through social initiative and strong sense of justice to being a psychopath, bent on squirreling away money, treating his wife, his lovers, and his followers like garbage until the very end. Even with knowing all of this before starting "The Road to Jonestown," this book is riveting and the best explanation of the Jim Jones that has been written. Guinn paints Jones as a leader, a sympathetic character that eventually turns into a villain and someone that is hard to like at all. Jones's early days in Indy are incredible, and it makes me kind of proud of all of the things that he did to diversify the city. From integrating restaurants and work forces to making sure the poor have a strong voice in their corner, the Indianapolis chapters almost makes me want to brag on how good of an influence Jones was to the state of Indiana. The problem is that the rest of his legacy is horrid. He did do some things in San Francisco and Los Angeles that were exemplary, but as a whole, by the time he moved the congregation out there, he was losing his mind to paranoia and drug use. This is not new information. What is new is the depth that Guinn goes to portraying Jones in a non-judgmental light. Even though Jones does despicable things in California (to the point to where by the time he reaches Guyana, he is almost ruined anyway), Guinn does not bat an eye as he tells the story. This objectivity makes Guinn's book feel like an authority, like "I don't have a horse in this race. I'm just stating the facts." This lack of skewed view makes "The Road to Jonestown" a marvelous explanation. In the end, the story is heartbreaking. Even though I have watched the films, read other books, and looked up Jonestown on the internet, the reality of it all is heartbreaking. I will say that reading Guinn's description of the end was enough to bring a tear to my eye. Maybe because it felt like I was actually part of the Peoples Temple by this time, that through this book, I had intimate knowledge of where everything went wrong and my friends were now dying with Jim Jones, or maybe it was because with such a vivid description of everything, I was emotionally attached to the story, something that I had never felt before reading Guinn's version. "Road to Jonestown" is incredible, and I am still heartbroken for the 900 plus people that died that day and all of the family that still survives. I received this e-book through NetGalley for an honest review.

  • Sharman Bingham
    2019-03-21 18:39

    Jeff Guinn should be awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant so that he can take on difficult or controversial people, research the heck out of them, and then write comprehensive,epic books like this one. I might not have read this book were it not for the good reviews here on Goodreads and other sites. It is a long, sometimes difficult read. But a great one. I highly recommend.

  • Dawnelle Wilkie
    2019-03-08 15:32

    A+ on Research. D on Editing. Sweet Effing Christ, I can't EVEN. I just.... no. An extremely thorough retelling of an old favorite, if you:re into megalomaniacal messiah types. And I sure am!You'll enjoy roughly 200 pages of this book.

  • Brad
    2019-03-10 19:54

    I had no idea. I, like so many of us, knew the Jonestown "Massacre" from metaphorical references to Kool-Aid (which, this book is keen to point out was actually Flavor-Aid), and ... in some foggy memory from the eighties ... an episode of Phil Donahue. But I really knew nothing. The thing that strikes me most about Jeff Guinn's book about Peoples Temple and Jim Jones is how fair Guinn is with his subjects. Guinn is assiduous when pointing out the good Peoples Temple and Jones himself did for the people of Indiana, Northern California and San Francisco. He doesn't shy away from making Jones human. There is no move to make Jones a monster, and even when Jones' own behaviour becomes monstrous, Guinn is quick to remind us of all the good that was being done under Jones name at the same time. Messed up as Jim Jones was, you see (and a man who leads nearly a thousand people to mass suicide is a fucking mess), he actually cared about things beyond him. Oh yes, he was a selfish prick who philandered and snorted coke and swallowed copious amounts of pills and controlled everyone around him, but he was committed to racial equality, to caring for the downtrodden, to living a life that he felt cared about everyone, and Guinn makes sure we know that Jim Jones is not pure evil. I really dig this book for that. It is so easy to turn these moments into good vs. evil dialectics, but Jeff Guinn refused to do that, and his book is stronger for efforts.I don't like Jim Jones or what he did to his followers in Jonestown, Guyana, but I do understand what got him there, and I feel some empathy for the man -- far more empathy than I have ever felt for any other "cult" leader. Thank you, Jeff Guinn for getting me there. After the book was finished, I took a personal journey to the last hour of Peoples Temple as they killed themselves in Guyana. It isn't hard to find. I went to The Last Podcast on the Left episode 60-something to find the complete tape. I remember hearing it once before and being disgusted but entranced all the same. This time I was just sad. I wonder if maybe we need more sadness than anger in our world when terrible things happen because of people. Perhaps sadness can save us all?Maybe not.

  • MaryCarrasco
    2019-03-12 19:34

    The Road to Jonestown, written by Jeff Guinn, is an in depth, comprehensive look into the history of Jim Jones and Peoples Temple. I've always been fascinated (morbid as that is) with cults and specifically, with Jim Jones. Questions abound but Jeff Guinn did such an outstanding, thorough job of answering most of them. I can't say enough about how well this book is written.On November 18, 1978, over 900 people died as a result of mass suicide in the dense jungle of Guyana. Just how did one man garner enough trust to carry out such an atrocity against so many people? Jim Jones was a very charming, affable man who used the philosophy of social justice and equality to woo the poor and downtrodden to his cause. He appealed to his parishioners desire to bring about social change in a volatile time in America's history and peppered that philosophy with religious fanaticism. What surprised me the most was that the theology Jones presented was rather fluid. In other words, it evolved and shifted to suit his ever growing need to remain in a constant position of power and control. More surprisingly, rarely did anyone question him. The people of Jonestown certainly didn't have to die. Yet most of them didn't see it that way. Through years of systematic conditioning, Jones' followers felt that they were a large, socialist family; all for one and one for all. They would die for each other and they would die for their leader whom many believed was God incarnate. The slivers of fear that Jones fed them along the way led them to believe that there was no other way.I wish this were fiction because it's so hard to believe that this actually happened. The pictures at the end of the book are very graphic and drive home the reality of this historical event. After finishing this book, I literally stared into the space above my Kindle unable to move. I was unable to digest the sheer horror of what happened in Jonestown. There are just some things I'll never understand but the author brought into focus a more complete picture of who Jim Jones was, what his believers were about and the road that led them all to death's door.

  • Christopher Saunders
    2019-03-12 21:28

    Jeff Guinn's The Road to Jonestown offers an in-depth, marvelously chilling look at Jim Jones and his followers, whose mass suicide became a watchword for cultish insanity. Whereas many accounts of the Peoples Temple focus on the lurid details of cult life (Tim Reiterman's Raven comes to mind), Guinn spends much of the book trying to account for Jones' behavior. The book reads like a Greek tragedy, as Jones, product of a hardscrabble life in Indiana, starts as an idealist who mixes socialism with evangelical Christianity, who does yeoman's work helping the poor and disadvantaged in Indianapolis and later San Francisco, but whose delusions grew monstrously as his influence expanded, causing him to lose all sense of proportion until he ran the cult as a fiefdom designed to stroke his ego and slake his ambitions and lusts. Essentially, it's the tale of a man who spent his life battling noble and ignoble impulses; when the latter won out, the results proved catastrophic.

  • SheriC (PM)
    2019-03-11 21:40

    This was a thorough examination of the evolution of The Peoples Temple from its socialist ideals and Christian roots to a cult willing and able to commit the 1978 atrocity of mass suicide and murder of over 900 men, women, and children. It examines as much as can be known of Jim Jones, the Temple’s founder and ultimately deranged leader. It provides a study of several members, both survivors and deceased. From this, the author lays bare the mechanism by which a group of committed idealists and vulnerable believers can be led down the path to deranged behavior, enthusiastically participating in atrocities committed upon themselves and others, giving up all control to a single man in spite of clear evidence that he is a charlatan. Guinn does this with remarkably little judgement. He provides facts and observations and conclusions, from a variety of points of view, and pays the reader the compliment of allowing them to judge or not. As a result, the story can be a little dry at times, but in this case I much prefer that to a sensationalized faction. I was surprised by two things. One: The similarity between the techniques used by Jones and Temple leaders to subjugate their followers and those common in domestic violence situations, where outsiders say, “I don’t understand why anyone would put up with that, why didn’t they leave?”The other: The Peoples Temple, at least in the beginning, performed great good. They turned lives around, provided a haven for the disenfranchised, and made material inroads in systemic societal racism. But because the Temple idealists who were committed to these goals were willing to overlook the warning signs of Jones’ unethical and immoral behaviors, feeling that the ends justified the means, they were really as much to blame for that final massacre as Jones himself. They were willing to make excuses for him, to enable him, in order to use him and his power to achieve their own ends. First small violations of ethics, then another, then another, then another, until any means necessary seemed natural and acceptable. Let that be a lesson to us all. Audiobook, purchased via Audible. Competently read by Jeff Newbern.

  • Janet
    2019-03-02 21:34

    Wow ... just wow.I figured that I would have to set this aside when the new Dan Brown book came today (I even rescheduled a doctor's appt. to be home to get me some new Robert Langdon!))So .... I stayed up until 4am to finish it as it was so engrossing and fascinating. My reviews NEVER tell you what the story is about (the description at the top of the page does that!) BUT GO AND READ THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Valerity *
    2019-03-14 18:26

    THE ROAD TO JONESTOWN By Jeff GuinnHaving read many of the available books about Jonestown throughout the years since it happened, I didn't think that there was a whole lot more to be said on the subject. But I also figured that since it's been a number of years since I've done the reading, that this book would be a great refresher on the topic. Well, it was that, but also a heck of a lot more. Guinn's book is a skilled, in-depth look at James Warren Jones, from his birth on May 13, 1931 and lonely childhood, to his death surrounded by his hundreds of followers in Jonestown, Guyana on November 18, 1978 when he was 47 years old. I found that there was just so much more to discover about him, and his wife Marceline and how the Peoples Temple came about. and grew The book explains Jones' need to control his followers in as many ways as he was able to, and how he used his control to rake over their whole lives until they lived just for him, calling him "Father". I found that there were far more good things about his group and what they did in the name of socialism, than I had realized before. But that there was also much more nefarious and dark about other things that went on at Jones' direction too, right up to the final order for them all to die. I would recommend this book for anyone interested in this cult group in the hopes that it may be learned from, and never repeated.

  • Deb
    2019-03-19 19:35

    A deep dive into Jim Jones's life, background, and formation of The Peoples Temple. At times maybe a bit too deep--the middle dragged on a bit--but even knowing how it ends in Jonestown, the last third had me on the edge as the tension built. I remember all the the news accounts at the time but I learned a lot more about Jones. The audiobook narration by George Newbern was good. So many people looking for a better life ended up in to deep. Sad and disturbing but overall a good read.

  • Zuky the BookBum
    2019-03-02 14:28

    I'm really excited to read this, I have a fascination with Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple.(DKY I haven't read this yet)

  • Kaitlin
    2019-03-23 18:25

    So this is non-fiction of the sort I love. Dark, inspiring, haunting...and sadly true.This book was recommended to me by the lovely Mercedes (who I managed to beat reading it becuase I clearly have more time!) when she heard it was about a mass suicide and by a prominent author. I had previously heard of the Jonestown mass suicide, but no more than that it happened. I knew nothing of the lead up or the whys and hows, and this book is great for explaining how something that started out with such good intent...quickly went terribly wrong.I actually audio-booked this and the narrator was great. There were times where I felt the writing and the narration actually made me sympathise with the man who ultimately ordered all his followers to die... The fact that I could see both sides of his life and story fascinated and slightly horrified me...This follows the life of Jim Jones, a young man inspired to become a religious leader in order to kick-start social change. Things started slow but Jones' character allowed him a personal connection with people and got him quite far in the world. He started in America and ended in Ghana but he took a whole load of others down with him in one of the most horrific recent mass suicides.Id definitely recommend this if you too have a morbid curiosity about the mentality and life of someone who effectively runs a cult-like group. Things may seem fine at first, but over the years things certainly changed... 4*s

  • Emily
    2019-03-20 21:48

    I may write a more detailed review later, but I can't right now. This was probably one of the most intense books I've ever read, and it took me a bit to get through it because it's so informative and heavy. This book covers a wide range of emotions - I felt sad, angry, confused, amused, concerned, etc.I thought I knew a decent amount of information about Jim Jones / Peoples Temple / Jonestown, and I did not haha. The Road to Jonestown messes with your head because it shows you the good and bad that they did. It was so odd to read about all the kind and interesting things they did in the beginning because the reader knows where it ends up. Anyway, this book was fascinating, and I was never bored. Jeff Guinn did a really great job on this story that is both dark and light. I recommend it, but just know that it's heavy, and it's going to stick with you.