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A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope,…

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

by Julia Scheeres

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2423747,619 (3.92)23
  1. 10
    Seductive Poison: A Jonestown Survivor's Story of Life and Death in the People's Temple by Deborah Layton (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  2. 00
    Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People by Tim Reiterman (DDay)
    DDay: Both recommended for better understanding of The Peoples Temple and Jonestown: A Thousand Lives looks more at individual residents of Jonestown, while Raven is focused more on Jones himself.

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Well worth reading, whether you remember the event or not. The author makes an excellent effort to be respectful to the people who died at Jonestown, while exposing the most gruesome and unbelievable facts about the events and what led up to them. ( )
  bness2 | May 23, 2017 |
I'm old enough to remember this horrible news story. Scheeres uses thousands of pages of letters, memos and diaries to look beyond the sensationalism and try to understand what drew people into the situation in which they would commit "mass suicide." In doing so, she completely changed my view of what happened. The people who followed Jim Jones to Guyana did so for many reasons; some were concerned with racial and gender discrimination in the U.S., some were socialists, some were so poor and/or forgotten by society that this was their first taste of affection, belonging and order in their lives. The group Jones started in Indiana and consolidated and grew in California emphasized equality and justice. But Jones deliberately moved the group to Guyana to separate them from any social safety net and gain complete control. The book emphasizes how completely isolated the Jonestown group was from civil society. Jones controlled what they ate, whether they ate, whom they could write to. They had no phone connection to the outside world and their mail was censored. Most did not want to die, and many resisted Jones' commands right to the end. Many drank the poison believing it was just another "loyalty test" like those Jones had conducted before. Jones had used violence, drugs and starvation to completely remove the will to live in those who seemed the most strong and resilient. This book actually reminded me of "The Fear," a book I read recently about Robert Mugabe's attempts to terrify and manipulate his own people. Scheeres also emphasizes the Guyanan govts attempts to intervene. Neither the Guyanans nor the Americans did everything they could to help the people who were essentially prisoners in Jonestown, but the Guyana govt. comes off better than the Americans and much better than they are usually portrayed in popular versions of this story.
( )
  kaitanya64 | Jan 3, 2017 |
Elizabeth Louise
  jmail | Mar 21, 2016 |
I heard about this book in an article calling people out for using the phrase "drinking the Kool-aid" without knowing the full story of its origins. The article must have been convincing because I put this book on my to-read list and it ended up being a part of my Fenner fundraiser shopping spree.

This book broke my heart in a thousand ways. It made me angry. It made me despair. It made me swear threats and epithets as I slammed the book down on the table, as if my bargaining could still somehow influence the outcome of events. To the point where for a while my husband avoided me while I was reading, because if I talked about it, he would get too angry.

Well written, sympathetic characters (not including Jim Jones, of course, whose head you never get into). My only complaint about the book is that I wish it were footnoted, and not just endnoted. This book was incredibly well researched, and when I got to the end and saw the notes I finally realized to what extent. But while I was reading, I kept wondering, "How does she know that?" It probably should have occurred to me to check for endnotes, but it didn't, and I would have appreciated footnotes, okay? ( )
1 vote greeniezona | Sep 20, 2014 |
I was a kid when this happened but remember being stunned by how many died. I never really thought much about the people who died except as crazy cultists. This book helped me see them as real people and feel compassion ... so many were idealists who yearned for a better world and believed Jones would provide that. I doubt I will ever be able to hear the phrase "don't drink the Kool-Aid" again without feeling sick. ( )
1 vote kwbridge | Sep 6, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
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I love socialism, and I'm willing to die to bring it about, but if I did, I'd take a thousand with me.
— Jim Jones, September 6, 1975
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Had I walked by 1859 Geary Boulevard in San Francisco when Peoples Temple was in full swing, I certainly would have been drawn to the doorway.
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In A Thousand Lives, NYT bestselling memoirist Julia Scheeres recounts the chilling story of the People's Temple members who followed Jim Jones to Guyana. They went for the promise of a better life, yet the Jonestown community that started as a Utopian dream soon devolved into a terrifying work camp run by a madman, ending in the mass murder-suicides of 913 members in November 1978. A Thousand Lives gives voice to the people who followed Jim Jones to Guyana-including an English teacher from Colorado, elderly African American sisters raised in Jim Crow Alabama, a troubled young black man from Oakland, and a working-class fatehr and his teenage son. Each went for different reasons-some were drawn to Jones for his progressive attitudes toward racial integration, other were dazzled by his claims to be a faith healer. But once in Guyana, Jone's mental imbalance and substance abuse quickly overcame the idealistic spirit of the community. Scheeres chronicles the disturbing path that Jim Jones led his congregants down, piecing together rare firsthand interviews with the diaries, letters, and tapes collected by the FBI after the massacre. Scheere's own experience at a religious rehabilitation camp in the Dominican Republic, detailed in her remarkable Jesus Land allowed her to gain the trust of survivors who had never spoken about their experiences on the reocrd before. (ARC)
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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.

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