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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown

A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown

1 rating: 5.0
A book

"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, starred review    "Julia Scheeres's book sheds startling new … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Genre: History, Health, Mind & Body
Publisher: Free Press
1 review about A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope,...

Moving account of the Jonestown massacre

  • Sep 19, 2011
Rating:
+5
Working from recently released documents and tapes seized in Guyana after the mass murder/suicide in Jonestown, Scheeres has created a moving account of the People's Temple by focusing on several individuals who followed Jim Jones (some to their deaths). Scheeres treats this tragedy with acute sensitivity and a remarkable lack of judgmental rhetoric. She clearly spells out how Jim Jones initially drew people to his church and how his message shifted over the years from one of openness and integration to one of megalomania and paranoia. Scheeres also reveals a disturbing lack of action on the part of both the US and Guyanese governments whose dismissive attitude towards Jones' public threats of "revolutionary suicide" helped set the scene for his final solution.

As the narrative wound toward its tragic conclusion, Scheeres did a wonderful job of showing how Jones worked his followers, using drugs, violence, and starvation to keep them compliant and apathetic to his discussions of mass suicide. Scheeres' research makes it clear that Jones had a long range plan to kill all his followers and that he used drugs, threats, and both physical and psychological torture (beatings, sensory deprivation boxes, sleep deprivation, and a constant barrage of Jones' rantings broadcast day and night) to desensitize his followers to that danger. Ultimately, Scheeres did a wonderful job of placing the blame on Jones and on the upper levels of the People's Temple leadership, those who saw Jones unraveling and yet either did nothing or actively abetted his insanity. Using their own words (from interviews with survivors and from journals recovered from Guyana), Scheeres portrays the hundreds who dies in Jonestown as victims, horribly betrayed by a man who, through deception on every level, had gradually taken over every aspect of their lives.

Highly recommended!

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