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)
This book does a good job of telling the Jonestown story from the perspective of some of Jim Jones' followers. I can see the attraction of the People's Temple. It provided a caring family and community for a lot of people who needed that. I'm left wondering what would have happened if Jones wasn't a drug-abusing mental case. Could the community have thrived? I suppose it would have eventually broken down, as other utopian societies have fallen apart.
While the book delves deeply into the personal stories of several families who survived, and does a good job of shedding light on what motivated them to follow Jones, I'm left wanting to know more about the movement's leaders. It's clear Jones was insane. But why did so many people support him and enforce his cruel policies?
More diabolical than Jones was Dr. Schacht, the doctor who concocted the deadly cocktail that killed more than 900 men, women and children in the Guyanese jungle. The book has a lot of information about him.
Avid reader of history, biography, and true crime.
This is the fascinating tale of an arch (and eventually insane) manipulator and the trusting and adoring people who followed him to their eventual death. The author recounts the stories of a number of individuals who gave up everything for Jones and his 'promised land' and these stories add immediacy and poignancy to the telling. We also learn about some who left, and some who stayed and survived. All of these stories give some idea of the way people became ensnared in Jones's net and went, willingly or otherwise, to their death. The various strands of the story are beautifully brought together and the reader's interest is maintained from beginning to end. One can only wonder at those whose faith in Jones did not waver in light of his cruelty to both adults and children, his self-confessed adultery with both men and women, and his increasingly bizarre pronouncements. Robin Miles' narration is perfect: the voice, pace, expression are all spot on for this compelling story.
avoiding road rage one book at a time...
This book is exceptionally written. I decided to buy it because I loved Julia's book Jesus Land. The staggeringly confounding story of Jonestown needed someone like Julia - her exhaustive attention detail and ability to create imagery with words. She combed through insurmountable records and interviewed people involved to wholly retell this haunting story. It is impeccably told, perfectly narrated and extremely overwhelming. Jim Jones was a diabolical maniac that somehow convinced his followers of imaginary conspiracies, manipulated their beliefs, chopped away at their confidence and turned them into fearful sheep... he trapped them and they felt there was no where to turn. I still cannot believe this actually happened. People need to hear this story and this is the perfect place to learn. I will remember Hyacinth Thrash and her unyielding determination for the rest of my life. Amazing job, Julia Scheeres!
Talking about truth being stranger then fiction. Jim Jones was certainly a control freak with a huge dose of paranoia fueled by ramped drug use that warped his mind. The sad stories of the thousand followers who were brain washed and drug kicking and screaming to their deaths is an eye opening wake up call of what horrors propaganda and the greed of power can lead to.
This book was written in such a way that I now have a much better understanding of how and why people would follow someone to the point of suicide...At the beginning, Jone's made people who were on the periphery of society feel wanted.....As I continued to listen, I could really feel the desperation and hopelessness set in....I often asked myself while listening to this book, what would I do? what would I do? Robin Miles did a great job reading.
This book is a summary of all the pranks this man did on people to make them follow him. He was using elaborate tricks to con people all the way through. I heard more about the cons and how they were successful. What I was hoping to hear about what made people follow this man, but it isn't so interesting once I realize he used blatant trickery, intimidation and violence. That's why people followed him. I would have prefered to hear why people followed him while knowing the truth about everything, but this focuses on the people who were duped 100%. Disappointing and I didn't learn a thing. I only finished the first half.
I love Audible because of the peace of mind it brings me. It is the only way I can finish a book before it is shredded by the Basenjis.
Yes, I would definitely read this book again and suggest it to everyone who is enthralled by "Cult-like" behavior. I was young when the tragic events of Jonestown were broadcasted on Television. Yet, I remember thinking, "Who would be so gullible? Why not leave the church?" These same questions have presented themselves throughout American and World history. "Group-think" or Cult behavior has such a significant impact on our lives, it can change the direction of an entire culture and government. Ultimately, Cult behavior impacts the economy and the lives of individuals in a Nation thousands of miles away. Time has lessened the impact of the Jonestown's tragic reality and its memory has seeped into modern day lexicon to imply blind gullible faith (i.e. "drink the kool-aid"). This book is the first to use the recently released documents, journals, letters, recordings, and personal testaments of survivors to provide a detailed account of the life of Jim Jones and "The Peoples Temple" from inception to its “bitter-almond” end.
Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright. Another fascinating book that marvels the reader (listener) with jaw-dropping human behavior that leave you mystified.
Hello, my name is Teresa and I'm an addict.
I have always had a fascination with the story of Jonestown. I remember as a teen watching a documentary on this story and just being engrossed. It is amazing what people will believe and do in order to fit in. We get to hear many different point of views from this book. It is written as if they were telling the story. I finished reading Helter Skelter not long ago and I thought Manson was crazy, but after reading this I believe Jim Jones was way more advanced in his delusions than Manson. So much abuse and mind control it was unbelievable that people get sucked into this, but it was so gradual it snuck up on most of them. The first hour or so is a little slow, but after that the horror and shock of what is unfolding will enthrall you.
I've always been intrigued with the Jonestown massacre. This book gets you right into the details of everything that went on. Its sad, but also shows you just how easy some people can be hooked into the "false prophet" scenarios.
I would definitely recommend this book to a friend. It's a difficult listen at times but gives lessons relevant for today. It was well written and narrated exceptionally.
The narration was overall excellent. One of the best I have heard.
This book was very difficult to put down but I needed to set it aside to take breaks. It's heart wrenching and infuriating at times. I listened to it over a 3 day period.
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