Publishers Weekly Reviews
One of the ghastliest outbreaks of fanaticism in recent times, the 1978 mass suicide of some 900 members of the Peoples Temple church, gets a magisterial treatment in this biography of leader Jim Jones. True-crime journalist Guinn (Manson) follows Jones's rise as a charismatic, indefatigable minister in Indiana and California preaching Christianity, socialism, vehement antiracism, and a bizarre personality cult that worshipped him as God. There's plenty of grotesquerie in the story, from Jones's faith-healing with confederates and chicken guts to his sexual predations on followers, his attempts to relocate the church to the Soviet Union, the beatings he meted out, and the climactic poisoning of his flock with cyanide-laced Flavor Aid. But Guinn probes the deeper mystery of Jones's hold over his abused disciples, part personal magnetism and part genuine idealism, showing his commitment to civil rights and social justice—he was one of few white leaders to help integrate Indianapolis, pioneered welfare-services programs, and became a force in San Francisco progressive politics—and the warm personal regard he projected to his many poor, black followers. 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. Agent: Jim Donovan, Jim Donovan Literary. (Apr.)
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A portrait of the influential cult leader behind the Jonestown Massacre examines his personal life from his extramarital affairs and drug use to his fraudulent faith healing practices and his decision to move his followers to Guyana, sharing astonishing new details about the events leading to the 1978 tragedy. By the award-winning author of Go Down Together. - (Baker & Taylor)
A portrait of the cult leader behind the Jonestown Massacre examines his personal life, from his extramarital affairs and drug use to his fraudulent faith healing practices and his decision to move his followers to Guyana, sharing new details about the events leading to the 1978 tragedy. - (Baker & Taylor)
2018 Edgar Award Finalist'Best Fact Crime
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, 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. - (Simon and Schuster)