They left America for the jungles of Guyana to start a better life. Yet what started as a Utopian dream soon devolved into a terrifying work camp run by a madman, ending in the mass murder-suicide of 914 members in November 1978.
In A Thousand Lives, the New York Times best-selling memoirist Julia Scheeres traces the fates of five individuals who followed Jim Jones to South America as they struggled to first build their paradise, and then survive it. Each went for different reasons - some were drawn to Jones for his progressive attitudes towards racial equality, others were dazzled by his claims to be a faith healer. But once in Guyana, Jones' drug addiction, mental decay, and sexual depredations quickly eroded the idealistic community.
For this groundbreaking book, Scheeres examined more than 50,000 pages of newly released documents that the FBI collected from the camp after the massacre - including diaries, crop reports, and letters that were never sent home - as well as hundreds of audiotapes of Jones addressing his group.
Scheeres's own experience at a religious boot camp in the Dominican Republic, detailed in her unforgettable debut memoir Jesus Land, gives her unique insight into this chilling tale.
Haunting and vividly written, A Thousand Lives is a story of blind loyalty and daring escapes, of corrupted ideals and senseless, searing loss.
©2011 Julia Scheeres (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"Chilling and heart-wrenching, this is a brilliant testament to Jones's victims, so many of whom were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time." (Publisher's Weekly)
"Scheeres shows great compassion and journalistic skill in reconstructing Jonestown’s last months and the lives of many Temple members (including a few survivors).... [A] well-written, disturbing tale of faith and evil." (Kirkus)
"Julia Scheeres' A Thousand Lives... tells the tragic tale of Jonestown - in its way, a peculiarly American apocalypse." (Los Angeles Times)
Easy to listen to amazing story if sad.
Now and then I found it too moralizing
no I haven't.
overall it was good
I think so,although I dont'think I would have got it if I had had to pay it full price.
I heard about The People's Church and Jim Jones for the first time while reading ( listening to...) the biography of Harvey Milk.
Haven't read the print version but I would imagine listening would be easier than reading as it sometimes got very heavy.
The old sisters, especially the one that survived.
Nothing about this story could be considered favourite.
Cry inside. My reaction was horror that something like this could happen, but having listened to the whole story it helped me understand better how hundreds of people could follow a man to death in that way.
This book seemed to go on for a long time, but it was necessary to know the full story. Has the world learnt anything by this horror story? Could it be stopped before an outcome like this takes place again? I wonder!!!
I am in my mid fifties and remember the horror of the many senseless deaths, so many of them babies and children. I now can empathize a little with the innocent deluded people who were trying to do good things and sacrificed everything to a psychopathic drug addict. I like that it followed a few people in depth and I ended up Googling a survivor's list because I began to care so much about them before I finished.
Getting to know the victims and how they thought. What drew them to Jim Jones.
Very sad book to know these good people died for no reason.
This is a perfect historical narrative based on the perspective on how religious cults are created and their control of the innocent. This story is very moving and ends in tradegy.
How did we ever get through the day without audiobooks?
I was pleasantly surprised at the easy listen that this turned out to be. Told in easy to follow language, several personal stories are told of the followers.
It wasn't written to shock the reader, and it explained how some people were just slowly sucked into the world of Jim Jones, until they were in so deep, it was impossible to retreat.
I liked that it was detailed without being intensely graffic
I have alwyas found Robin Miles to be a fantastic narrator; she did not disappoint here
This book is so important to read, giving truth to the attage "Absolute power corrupts absolutely."
This is a well-researched and docuemnted book detailing the lives of Jim Jones's followers. The narrative is based on 50,000 pages of documents (diaries, notes, etc) released by the FBI and seized from Jonestown. The author has a good voice and is able to convey both Jim Jones's persuasiveness, at least his persuasiveness in the beginning, and the entrapped feeling his followers must have felt. I knew of the Jonestown tragedy since I was a kid, but I had always thought it was a willing mass suicide. I was very wrong.
Author Julia Scheeres tells the story of Jim Jones and his followers, beginning in Indiana, moving to California, to Brazil and then to Guyana. She tells of his drug addiction, his sexual infidelities and methods of controlling his followers via sex (both male and female), his physical abuse and threats perpetrated against his followers -- both adults and children (so so heartbreaking to read about), and of his entrapping and control of his followers. Through the pages of A Thousand Lives, Scheeres details individual followers' lives -- pieced together from diaries, eye witness accounts and letters. This book is not just a reporting, but an unfolding of a story with multiple people's points of view.
I was surprised to learn that Jones had political ties, both in the US and in Guyana, which enabled him to maintain his operations and keep going. It is amazing, of course viewed in retrospect, that this political pressure he put on leaders in the US and in South America actually worked. After the massacre was over, one third of the people murdered at Jonestown were children (over 300 children). Jim Jones used threat and force to keep people in his church, to prevent them from leaving the grounds of his compound and to ultimately murder them. I won't detail how Jones controlled his followers -- but it is sad and horrific. I will never use the phrase "drink the kool-aid" again to mean someone who buys into a crazy idea.
Ultimatley this book was very informative but (I hate to say it) entertaining. I listened to the audio version and am glad to have learned what I did about the tragic victims of Jonestown. It was heartbreaking to learn, however I still recommend this story.
I loved this book. I felt it was an honest collection on the history of Jones and what culminated in to Jonestown massacre. Scheeres does an excellent job laying the history out and helping the reader to understand how people got wrapped into Jones, and then, how it became so difficult to leave. Individual story lines keep the reader following along. I followed this when the story first broke, but this is the best synopsis of the history, making of a group like this, and honest portrayal that allows the reader to understand how such a tragedy can occur.
Miles does an excellent job narrating. Highly recommend this book.
I am old enough to remember the stories that followed the mass murder/suicide but, of course, my recollections are only on a superficial level. Listening to the book, I couldn't help but see Powers Boothe in the 1980 made-for-TV movie "Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones" and, while I thought the movie left me pale, this audiobook blew me away. I appreciate that survivors had the graciousness to tell their stories beyond the written and taped documentation that remained in Jonestown. Robin Miles reading was excellent.
I've often wondered about Jonestown over the years, and before listening to this audiobook, I was nowhere near as forgiving of the events that occurred there. I used to ponder how anyone could be duped repeatedly into first joining the temple, then going to Guyana, and then committing suicide. I dare say now that the phrase "drinking the Kool-aid" is a misnomer. Listen for yourself, and if this audiobook produces no emotion in you, then you'd better check to make sure you have a pulse.
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