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In the 1950s, a young Indianapolis minister named Jim Jones preached a curious blend of the gospel and Marxism. His congregation was racially integrated, and he was a much-lauded leader in the contemporary civil rights movement.
In this riveting narrative, Jeff Guinn examines Jones’s life, from his extramarital affairs, drug use, and fraudulent faith healing to the fraught decision to move almost a thousand of his followers to a settlement in the jungles of Guyana in South America. Guinn provides stunning new details of the events leading to the fatal day in November, 1978 when more than nine hundred people died—including almost three hundred infants and children—after being ordered to swallow a cyanide-laced drink.
Guinn examined thousands of pages of FBI files on the case, including material released during the course of his research. He traveled to Jones’s Indiana hometown, where he uncovered fresh information from Jonestown survivors.
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“I have to say that it is weird to find out the background of things that I grew up hearing about around the dinner table. The level of research and detail in The Road to Jonestown is the best ever, and really lets readers understand not only what happened, but how and why. This book tells the Jim Jones story better than anything I have read to date.” (Jim Jones, Jr.)
“Jeff Guinn offers what might be the most complete picture to date of this tragic saga, and of the man who engineered it. . . . The result is a disturbing portrait of evil — and a compassionate memorial to those taken in by Jones’ malign charisma.” (Kevin Canfield The San Francisco Chronicle)
"A thoroughly readable, thoroughly chilling account of a brilliant con man and his all-too vulnerable prey. . . . Generates a bizarre — dare I say Manson-like? — magnetic force that pulls the reader through its many pages. Noir thriller morphs into horror story."
(Dan Cryer The Boston Globe)
"Magisterial. . . . Guinn's exhaustive research, shrewd analysis, and engaging prose illuminate a monstrous yet tragic figure--and the motives of those who lost their souls to him." (Publishers Weekly)
“Guinn is a master storyteller with a unique expertise in murderous psychotics. The book reads like a thriller, each page forcing your attention to the next as the Peoples Temple slowly slides from groundbreaking progressivism toward madness.” (Kevin J. Hamilton Seattle Times)
"A vivid, fascinating revisitation of a time and series of episodes fast receding into history even as their forgotten survivors still walk among us." (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“Guinn paints a fascinating and even-handed portrait of Jones.” (Jill Johnson Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
"A powerful account of Jones's life. . . . Guinn's blow-by-blow account of Jonestown's final days in the book's last chapters is riveting." (BookPage)
Jeff Guinn, bestselling author of the three books in 'The Christmas Chronicles,' is an award-winning journalist and writer
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