The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple

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The Road to Jonestown is an impeccably researched exploration of Jim Jones, the church he founded, and the strange events that led to the shocking 1978 massacre in Guyana that killed more than 900 people.

Using FBI files and interviews with former members of Peoples Temple, Jeff Guinn constructs a compelling portrait of a man who had the ability, charm, and drive to amass a large and loyal following. As a young minister in Indianapolis, Jones preached racial equality and socialism — and backed up his sermons by providing services to the city’s poor and disenfranchised. But as his Peoples Temple congregation grew, his teachings became more bizarre and his expectations more extreme.

From faked acts of healing to public humiliations and debilitating drug use, The Road to Jonestown elucidates the most shocking aspects of Jim Jones’s life — and documents in sobering detail the horror and tragedy he left as his legacy.

“As the sun rose, the air grew stifling. Each breath seared the nostrils and lungs. The jungle was soggy from the previous day’s violent storm. As the soldiers finally neared Jonestown, clouds of steam wafted up from the ground, making it difficult to see. Around them they heard jungle sounds — birds squawking, monkeys howling, the rustle of unseen animals in the nearby bush — but, as they reached the settlement perimeter, the area in front of them was eerily quiet. That suggested ambush, with a well-armed squadron of Jonestown militia lurking silently in wait until the interlopers came within range. The thick ground fog made it impossible to see more than a few feet ahead.”

Jeff Guinn is an American investigative journalist and author. His books include Go Down Together, The Last Gunfight, The Road to Jonestown, and Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson.

Published: 2017
Length: 454 pages
Set in: Indianapolis, Indiana and San Francisco, California, U.S.; Port Kaituma and Georgetown, Guyana