Search our Catalog

"Traveled back in time" to Jonestown

A few months ago, I started looking into what happened at Jonestown. I found it all incredibly interesting and spent time online listening to recordings of Jim Jones and looking at pictures of his project in Guyana. I wanted to learn more, and hearing that Seductive Poison by Deborah Layton was a good book, decided to give it a try. This was honestly the first time in what seems like years since I found a book that I couldn't put down--I got the book on Friday, and despite many other pressures in life, finished it on Sunday. It was a beautifully-written account of Layton's experience with the Peoples Temple, and provided me with a ton more information that I'd previously known on what happened. The book also provided me with a lot of insight on various motivations for people joining the church and explanation of how things escalated. There was also a very suspenseful section at the end detailing Layton's escape. Seductive Poison was an incredible book that I would recommend to anyone, though I would also warn that it includes a lot of dark, sad subject matter. After this, I started to read A Thousand Lives by Julia Scheeres. I am currently 100 pages in. It is nearly as gripping as Seductive Poison, and provides even more information on the workings of the Peoples Temple and Jonestown. Because Seductive Poison was just one person's account of what happened, it didn't have nearly as much information on the church as a whole as A Thousand Lives, which was written by an author who did a lot of research and interviews to get information for the book. So far I like this book and would recommend this one as well. It's quite a page-turner. I'm glad that I read Seductive Poison first, though, and would encourage others to do the same. And after this, I watched Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, a PBS documentary. As films often do, watching this documentary, which included a wealth of photos and video clips from the Peoples Temple itself, helped me to really visualize what being in Jonestown/the Peoples Temple would be like. I don't recommend this quite as strongly as the two books I read. I believe the two books would be a very fascinating read for anyone, but I think this documentary would only really be interesting to obsessive creeps like me. Speaking of obsessive creeps, I am now watching "Guyana Tragedy," a poorly made TV movie from 1980 where actors portray Jones' life, starting from when he was a young boy and ending with his death. I have too much time on my hands as you can tell. I wouldn't recommend this movie to anyone. It's awful. I had a bad feeling about it during, literally, the first second of the movie when the narrator accidentally said "Lindiana" instead of "Lynn, Indiana" like he should have, and on the screen, the word "November" had an extra R in it. So, without going into too much detail on this terrible moving, I will just conclude by saying that no one should ever watch it. I hope that this review turns out to be useful to people (or at least that they bother to skim through it, which I doubt). I hope that Jonestown can captivate others the way it captivated me. Like they say, those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it, making learning about Jonestown a worthwhile endeavor. In addition, having a lot of information on this and reading perspectives of people who were actually involved in Peoples Temple is definitely a good thing because while almost everyone has a basic knowledge of Jonestown, it wasn't until I read Seductive Poison that I understood that the people who joined what would later be known as a cult were fairly normal people. The main difference seems to be that their optimism--they believe the world can get better and they can help it to do so--and altruism--the mission of the Peoples Temple was merely to help people as fully as possible. People devoted their lives and all posessions to the Temple so they could try to end poverty and discrimination. tl;dr: Read Seductive Poison; you'll be glad you did.


Sun, 2012-07-29 18:49
my spacing got messed up. :(
Reading Queen
Fri, 2012-08-03 11:17
Wow, lots of writing and detail! Good job! -Reading Queen :)