A Thousand Lives

A Thousand Lives

The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown

Book - 2011
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In 1954, a pastor named Jim Jones opened a church in Indianapolis called Peoples Temple Full Gospel Church. He was a charismatic preacher with idealistic beliefs, and he quickly filled his pews with an audience eager to hear his sermons on social justice. As Jones's behavior became erratic and his message more ominous, his followers leaned on each other to recapture the sense of equality that had drawn them to his church. But even as the congregation thrived, Jones made it increasingly difficult for members to leave. By the time Jones moved his congregation to a remote jungle in Guyana and the US government began to investigate allegations of abuse and false imprisonment in Jonestown, it was too late.

A Thousand Lives is the story of Jonestown as it has never been told. New York Times bestselling author Julia Scheeres drew from tens of thousands of recently declassified FBI documents and audiotapes, as well as rare videos and interviews, to piece together an unprecedented and compelling history of the doomed camp, focusing on the people who lived there.

The people who built Jonestown wanted to forge a better life for themselves and their children. In South America, however, they found themselves trapped in Jonestown and cut off from the outside world as their leader goaded them toward committing "revolutionary suicide" and deprived them of food, sleep, and hope. Vividly written and impossible to forget, A Thousand Lives is a story of blind loyalty and daring escapes, of corrupted ideals and senseless, haunting loss.
Publisher: New York ; Toronto : Free Press, 2011
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9781416596394
Branch Call Number: 289.9 SCH
Characteristics: xii, 307 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.


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lbarkema Dec 26, 2014

HEAVY, but told so well. I had only heard fleetingly of the Jonestown mass-suicide before reading this, but it was something that intrigued me. Cults are such a foreign ideal to me that I always want to learn more about them. After reading this, I still could not answer why or how people still kept following Jim Jones after some of the unspeakable things that he does, but I understood a little more about how they might have been attracted to the idea of the People's Temple in the first place. A socially-just church who included ALL people, no matter their race or economic status (especially race during this time), was a huge draw to many people. It's just so sad that something that started off with the best intentions, turned into a horror-filled, disgusting cult under it's leadership.

The book itself is told just like a story, almost novel-like that it is almost hard to believe that this actually happened, that this wasn't just a made-up horror story. But then my curiosity got the better of me and I made the MISTAKE of checking out the video/audio on YouTube of the "last sermon" that was literally taking place as people are poisoning themselves and their innocent children and this whole topic left me feeling very, very hollow. Read this book if you are interested and can take it- the book is not what made me feel horrible, but please do not go looking up the video, it is truly eerie and terrible. Sorry everyone, just had to make that note.

Overall, a very good book written on a very serious topic.

Jun 24, 2013

This is the best book I've read about Jonestown so far. Highly recommended to anyone who is interested in reading about the history of the People's Temple. You won't have to read any other books about this subject after reading this one.

Rhesa324 Jul 22, 2012

Heart-breaking story

debwalker Nov 13, 2011

How could so many people be so deluded? Disturbing story of what went down at Jonestown.

Nov 13, 2011

quite a story.

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