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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Friday, October 21, 2011

Do You Remember the Horror of Jonestown?

A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at JonestownA Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown by Julia Scheeres
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a GoodReads first reads giveaway. The writing style was easy enough to read, though the subject matter required breaking away periodically. I remember the murder-suicide event and at the time was overwhelmed by the number of people who were gulled by Jim Jones and who willingly took their own lives for him. The book in no way alleviated that awe though the biographical sketches of some of the followers clarified Jones' attraction. Many of these people were society's throw aways and in Jones they found a leader who seemingly cared for them and gave their lives meaning. Other of the followers were socialistic idealists who thought his message of equality and tolerance and communal living would lead to a new Utopia. It would have been helpful to have had more insight into the backgrounds of some of the top officials who found it so easy to abuse in the name of discipline their fellow Peoples Temple members and who were able to devise unbelieveable torture methods and suicide scenarios. I kept finding myself comparing these people to the educated experimenters of the Third Reich.

As a matter of fact, much like Hitler, Manson and others of that ilk, including Ida Amin, Jim Jones was a megalomaniac who lived well, used his position to have sex with whomever appealed to him and through drugs managed to lose all mental and emotional control of himself if not of his followers. This book in no way helped me to get my own mind around the type of person who falls prey to such a leader and find that these folks are missing some vital piece of humanity that allows them to become robotic followers, unable to function as loving parents, spouses or neighbors. It is frightening to know that there will always be men such as Jones and always be minions to do his bidding without thought.

Pictures of the places and people would have enhanced the story.

View all my reviews When I sent this review to Simon and Schuster, the editor replied with a link to the author's website, on which pictures of some of the followers could be found. http://www.juliascheeres.com

1 comment:

  1. A vivid memory of one of the worse things I ever read about.
    Good point about the pictures. I still remember the photos in Time magazine.

    PS Please stop over at my blog, KT, I'd love to see you participate in my giveaway and I'm having two now.