Regular price: $19.95

Free with 30-day trial
Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month
OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

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.

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    588
  • 4 Stars
    410
  • 3 Stars
    142
  • 2 Stars
    30
  • 1 Stars
    11

Performance

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    550
  • 4 Stars
    345
  • 3 Stars
    109
  • 2 Stars
    21
  • 1 Stars
    6

Story

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    580
  • 4 Stars
    329
  • 3 Stars
    93
  • 2 Stars
    21
  • 1 Stars
    10
Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Thorough and fascinating history of People's Templ

I studied cults in graduate school and had a passing familiarity with the history of Jim Jones and the People's Temple. However, this book goes more in depth and brings more life to the members of People's Temple than anything else I've read or watched on the subject. It's a fascinating read and treats the survivors with the respect and dignity that their story deserves.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Gone but not forgotten

A touching tribute to people who were, as Julia put it, betrayed. Given the author's background, I am even more impressed with her ability to search for truth, and not just characterize things from one point of view. Great author, great book.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Very thorough and insightful

The book gives a thorough history of the church and insight in to church members lives. Baffling and heartbreaking story.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

So Glad I Listened to This Historial Account

Like so many, I heard about Jonestown on the 6 o'clock news. Mainly just the total number dead, that the Senator had been killed, and a few ghastly photographs. That was about all that I heard and the usage of "don't drink the KoolAid" as a warning of not to believe everything you hear.

So this account provided a lot of needed, wanted, and necessary information to really understand the back-story and everything that lead up to the horrible suicide/murder event.

The author did a very good job of drawing a clear narrative from the massive amount of available information. And Robin Miles gave a perfect narration.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Concrete, emotional telling of a tragedy

If you want to learn about what happened in Jonestown and how so many people went from living life in the United States to "drinking the kool-aid" in Guyana, this book is incredibly illuminating. The story is absolutely worth hearing. You will be moved, and horrified. You will feel sick and yet you will also understand in certain moments. This book will impact your understanding of more than just this tragedy, and will amplify your sense of this tragedy at the same time.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Chilling

The story of Jonestown starts out with hope and faith and descends into horror and nightmare. I can't begin to imagine what it was like for those who no longer blindly believed and wanted to leave. The true example of brainwashing.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great storytelling

Kept my attention and was very informational. Followed the stories of many people who lived in Jamestown, survivors and victims.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • nray57
  • SPRINGFIELD, MO, US
  • 02-04-15

untold story?

This really isn't a bad book, but something about it just bothered me. If it hadn't begun with claims that this was all never-before-available information, I probably wouldn't have minded. The author writes in a style that assigns emotions, conclusions, etc. to the people she is telling the story about. It came across as being kind of "gossipy" or presumptuous to me. She never states that she actually interviewed these people to the extent that she can say what they were thinking or why they made the decisions they made. The story does get told, and it is interesting to hear the journey of these specific followers, but it left me wondering how she reached some of the conclusions she reached. It may deserve a rating higher than three, but because I liked other (first person) accounts about Jonestown better, that is where I placed it.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Repetitive

Each story was interesting the first time it was told. The second time around, it was okay. The third and fourth and fifth and on and on it got ridiculous. But then there would be a little snippet of a new story that kept me listening. I can't believe I made it through the whole thing.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Mind blowing

I always had prejudged the victims- and they were victims- of Jonestown. I don't anymore.

Fascinating book. Narrator is great.