By the New York Times bestselling author of Manson comes this 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' 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' 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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The Road to Jonestown answers many of the questions that have persisted for almost 40 years, foremost: How did this happen?-- "Amazon.com"
Offers what might be the most complete picture to date of this tragic saga and of the man who engineered it...The result is a disturbing portrait of evil - and a compassionate memorial to those taken in by Jones' malign charisma.-- " San Francisco Chronicle"
A thoroughly readable, thoroughly chilling account of a brilliant con man and his all-too vulnerable prey...Noir thriller morphs into horror story.-- " Boston Globe"
How does a man go from being a beloved preacher of socialism and racial equality in small town 1950s Indiana, to presiding over a 900-person murder-suicide deep in the jungles of Guyana? Jim Jones is the only person who can truly answer that, and he's dead, but investigative journalist Jeff Guinn comes pretty close. Guinn's The Road to Jonestown is a crisply written, brilliantly researched chronicle of a troubled, ultimately monstrous figure and the flock he led astray.-- "Literary Hub"
A vivid, fascinating revisitation of a time and series of episodes fast receding into history even as their forgotten survivors still walk among us.-- "Kirkus Reviews (starred review)"
Magisterial...Guinn's exhaustive research, shrewd analysis, and engaging prose illuminate a monstrous yet tragic figure-and the motives of those who lost their souls to him.-- "Publishers Weekly"