Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People” as Want to Read:
Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People

4.29  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,018 Ratings  ·  131 Reviews
For the first time in paperback, Tim Reiterman’s Raven provides the definitive history of the Rev. Jim Jones, the Peoples Temple, and the murderous ordeal at Jonestown three decades ago. This PEN Award–winning work explores the ideals-gone-wrong, the intrigue, and the grim realities behind the Peoples Temple and its implosion in the jungle of South America. Reiterman’s rep ...more
Paperback, 688 pages
Published November 13th 2008 by TarcherPerigee (first published January 1st 1982)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mar 15, 2014 11 rated it liked it
Up until 9/11/2001, the mass suicide at Jonestown, Guyana on November 18, 1978 held the record as the single greatest loss of civilian American lives (913) in our history. We all know Rev. Jim Jones was a creepy, skeevy, manipulative narcissist, and history is rife with those, but it's worthwhile digging a little deeper to examine the specific details of how he so bamboozled and brainwashed his followers that they gladly followed him to their deaths. (And to the deaths of their children, even.)

Jan 12, 2010 Brenna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
“To me, if we never got further than this, it would be heaven.”

Reverend Jim Jones sat on his throne at the pavilion before a thousand or so displaced people – people he had lured away from their homes and families to live in a dense, predator-infested Guyanese jungle which he had told them was “Paradise.” The swath torn out of the thick brush and trees was done by the members of Jones' People's Temple movement, primarily a group of people not accustomed to such labours. In fact, they had moved f
In case you weren't aware, Jim Jones was one crazy televangelist motherf****, who led over 900 members of his People's Temple Church to commit mass suicide by drinking cyanide laced Flavor-Aid (yes, that's right, it was generic Kool-Aid)in the late 70's. Yes, this happened a long, long time ago, but yet it still gives me chills when I think about the mindfuck that Jones was perpetuating and that lots of people actually bought into it. Jones, according to the book, was apparently the Rico Suave o ...more
Nancy Oakes
Jan 16, 2009 Nancy Oakes rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Tim Reiterman was one of the journalists who accompanied Congressman Leo Ryan to Jonestown in November of 1978. His book not only examines what happened there, but goes back to the childhood of Jim Jones and the beginnings of the movement known as the Peoples Temple so as to "capture the lure of the Temple, to convey the thinking and personalities of not just disgruntled defectors but also of the heartbroken loyalists with something positive to preserve and remember -- and to unmask the real Jim ...more
Nov 08, 2012 Marissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yes this book is long, but it is oh-so-worth the investment. I've always had a tremendous interest in cult leadership, and Jim Jones is probably the sickest and one of the most evil of them all. Reading this book, you really come to understand how one man, who clearly resides somewhere well outside of his right mind and is strung out on drugs (Hitler, anyone?) can get hundreds and hundreds of people to follow him not only to a remote island, but to willingly sacrifice their lives and the lives o ...more
Tim Reiterman was a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner who was in Jonestown, Guyana on November 18, 1978 when the infamous massacre occurred. This book gives a very detailed chronology of the People's Temple, starting with Jim Jones childhood and finishing with the reporter's evacuation after the tragic events.

For the most part the account is dry and surprisingly boring considering all the prurient happenings around the People's Temple. I found that I really had to force myself to slog thro
Will Ludwigsen
Even without the fascinating subject matter, this book is a staggering work of journalism, digging into the life and church of a sick and secretive man with the help of terrified witnesses. As one of the victims wounded on the Port Kaituma airstrip, Reiterman also brings his own perspectives to the work as well -- perspectives that are unusually fair for someone almost murdered by the subject of his writing.

It's easy -- as any reader or viewer can discover in many of the other works "covering"
There’s a thin line between “comprehensively researched” and “exhaustively researched”... actually, the line’s pretty thick. And Raven, tipping the scale at 600 pages of tiny text, falls on the wrong side of that thick line.

Admittedly, it’s easy to understand why Raven is so long. Co-author Tim Reiterman was one of the journalists shot by Jim Jones’s militia in the showdown that preceded the mass suicide/massacre. It’s understandable that Reiterman would want to collect every piece of the story
Nick Soulsby
Jan 26, 2015 Nick Soulsby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’d just finished a very readable but rather bombastic account of Charles Manson and the crimes of The Family when I tracked down “Raven.” Interesting to contrast the two as events and as reading experiences. For a start, in each case what we’re confronting is the desire of people to believe in something (a positive) versus what happens when the person in whom they invest that belief is damaged on a deep level. Jim Jones is by far a more ambiguous figure than Manson – Manson was a career crimina ...more
Dec 31, 2012 Bogdan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A gripping read about the story of Jim Jones and the People's Temple, this book is probably THE book you want to read if you want to know what happened in Guyana in 1978 and all the events that lead to the mass suicide. I would recommend it to anybody interested in cults, psychology and the general failure of socialism, top-down governance of people and the western/Christian ideology. The book is well written and well researched by somebody who was closely involved with the cult and it presents ...more
Aug 20, 2009 lp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The tragedy in Jonestown (remember... the Kool-Aid Suicide Gang?) in 1978 is a story about a lot of things, and though Tim Reiterman did a great job telling the story in his book Raven, I felt there were things he was leaving out. How did the government not catch on to Jones' brainwashing and illegal activity? The beatings? The stealing? Not paying taxes? How is it possible that the families of more than 900 people weren't objecting to the sudden, FUCKING BIZARRE behavior of their loved ones? So ...more
Mar 18, 2008 Juliette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Cult Research
Recommended to Juliette by: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple Documentary
Shelves: cults
This is seriously the ultimate, most comprehensive and complete book about Jim Jones and The Peoples Temple. The fact that author Tim Reiterman went to Jonestown, Guyana, and lived to research and write about it is unbelievable. He interviewed and researched The Peoples Temple so extensively, this is as good as it gets. For some insane reason, this book is long out of print and hard to find. It really should be updated and reissued. The writing is solid and informative, and I keep checking it ou ...more
Jun 17, 2013 Eric_W is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting interview with Reiterman and Deborah Layton, author of Seductive Poison A Jonestown Survivor's Story of Life and Death in the People's Temple on KQED. Reminded me of a very important book I read several years ago by John Hall Gone from the Promised Land Jonestown in American Cultural History, an excellent book.
Pedro Cabiya
Jan 30, 2015 Pedro Cabiya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
In the book industry terms like "riveting", "edge of your seat" and "supenseful" get thrown around in a happy-go-lucky way. For the first time in years I have read a book that makes me understand what is meant by those words. This is a thoroughly researched book about Jim Jones and the sinister People's Temple written by one of the journalists wounded that fateful November 18, 1978, on the Port Kaituma airstrip in Guyana. It delves on the slow but sure degradation of the psyche of both the incre ...more
I recently watched Jonestown: The Life and Death of the Peoples Temple on Netflix and found myself wanting to know more about Jim Jones and the cult he established. This book, written by surviving newsman Tim Reiterman, is the culmination of years of research of documents, tapes, and interviews with survivors of Jim Jones. It is incredibly thorough and can serve as a reference to all researchers of cults or the PT.

For all of the good points of the book, it is bogged down by a shifting timeline.
Mar 14, 2014 Nicole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Raven is the story of Jim Jones and the People's Temple - told by Tim Reiterman, a journalist who survived the massacre of the Ryan party in Guyana just hours before more than 900 People's Temple members committed "revolutionary" suicide with poisoned Grape-Aid. Reiterman begins at the beginning - the birth and early life of Jim Jones and moves carefully forward, in almost 600 pages, to chronicle the rise and fall of a people who put their lives in the hands of a sociopath.

Reiterman does a
Dec 30, 2015 Dionne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, cults
To say that this is "the seminal book on the story of Jonestown" is an understatement. Tim Reiterman not only writes an exhaustive book about Jim Jones, The People's Temple, Jonestown, and the mass suicide, but he was a part of the story. He was shot on November 18, 1978 when he traveled to Guyana to see Jonestown, the infamous day of the mass suicide.

If you want to learn everything there is to know about Jonestown, this is the book.
Gayle Francis Moffet
A meticulously researched history of Jim Jones as a man and as the leader of a cult. Raven does a strong job of simply laying out the truth of what happened from the time Jim Jones was a boy until he caused the deaths of 913 people in the middle of the South American junge.

Tim Reiterman has a personal connection to the Jonestown tragedy. He was one of the reporters who went down to the settlement with Congressman Leo Ryan. He was shot twice in the arm when the militant Jonestown supporters follo
Kathleen Farrell
Deeply disturbing. The man who researched this book wrote it after surviving the massacre of the people's temple and their last stand. He was not a member. He was a journalist. And what he uncovered serves as a terrible lesson that, like the lessons of war, cannot be ignored.
Aug 15, 2012 Todd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
The most complete history of Jim Jones and the People's Temple. Reiterman, a journalist who was shot on the airstrip outside Jonestown, delves deep into Jone's personal history and the events that led to unspeakable evil. A truly chilling journey into the mind and methods of a mad man.
Jan 05, 2016 Bobby24 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book BUT I do have a few of negative points, it finishes imho three chapters too early 1];I would have liked to have known about the general reaction both worldwide and familys on learning of events 2] Clearly it required a herculean clear up ;how was this done ?3] Photos ;a quality book somewhat cheapen by black and white paper images and none showing the aftermath ,I would buy this book again if the author added these updates ,...I would also have expected him in the revised edition to u ...more
Sep 16, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was fascinated by the story of Jim Jones, a man charismatic enough to persuade more than 1000 people to give up everything and move to a remote mud-patch in a foreign country, and of course ultimately die there. So much of the philosophy of the People's Temple (racial inclusivity, social justice, communalism etc)is very compelling, and I was fascinated to see how it was perverted and manipulated by the man responsible for its creation.
While Reiterman goes into a lot of detail about the people
Kristina Smith
Jan 22, 2015 Kristina Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Crazy read, heavy-duty, but lots of cautionary lessons to be learned from this book. There are people out there who would love to take over your money, your life, your children, everything. We think of the people who succumb to such as "weak-minded" but really what this book portray's it could happen to anyone of us. It's an amazing read.

Reiterman and Jacobs give a very detailed, professional and analytical outlook into Jim Jones and his life, and those closest to him. At a certain point in the
Nov 12, 2015 R_ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A socialist utopian experiment in a sweltering South American jungle – hundreds of miles from any extensive civilization. Only accessible via air or long boat voyage. Only radio for communication with the outside world. But it must be OK, because “God” is there in the form of Jim Jones. Hallelujah! This sounds like an Orwellian nightmare but it’s absolutely true – it happened. We can still argue about the details & motivations but we can’t argue about the 970+ who died. This story is maybe t ...more
Vincent Alascia
Aug 28, 2015 Vincent Alascia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-non-fiction
This is a hard book to review. Going into it I wanted to know two things. When did it all go so wrong, and what was it that allowed these people to be so manipulated? In the first case things appear to always have been wrong. Jim Jones's megalomania and paranoia were always evident and it was his charisma that allowed him to get by and continue the con. That's what this whole thing appeared to be some twisted long con; on who I could not figure out. As for the second question, the author does a ...more
Horace Derwent
Jun 30, 2016 Horace Derwent rated it it was amazing
The Veil

The Last Days
I read this book for my book club as we were looking for a biography to read. This book was written by a reporter who was actually shot trying to leave Jonestown in Guyana. He survived, but many of the people he was traveling with did not make it through the massacre alive and of course many of the members of Jones' People's Temple took their own lives while this was happening.

As someone who has first hand knowledge of Jim Jones and the People's Temple and who almost lost his life investigating
Aj Davenport
Mar 11, 2016 Aj Davenport rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a long book but it held my interest throughout. Tim Reiterman is a journalist with a newspaper style so the book doesn't read like a novel. He presents facts and cites sources to back them up.

What I found most fascinating was the biographic background on Jones. The psychology of why he turned out the way he did was clear and compelling.

Equally interesting to me as a San Francisco resident and historian was the political aspects of the People's Temple and the legacy that remains in The Ci
David Ward
Raven: The Untold Story of the Reverend Jim Jones and His People by Tim Reiterman with John Jacobs (E.P. Dutton Inc. 1982) (289.9). The author-reporters received numerous awards for their reporting and analysis of the People's Temple debacle. Their stated goal in this book is to explore and explain why Reverend Jim Jones descended into madness. I'm not impressed with the analysis contained in this volume, though the authors' bona fides are certainly in order. My rating: 6.5/10, finished 11/21/15 ...more
Feb 25, 2016 Abigail rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cults
Everything you ever wanted to know about Jonestown. From Jones' early life to temple Financial and political details, this is pretty much *the* book to read about the rise and fall of Jim Jones. Originally published three years after the horrific events in Guyana by a reporter who experienced the assassination of Leo Ryan firsthand, Raven is, from what I can tell, accurate look at what went on.

I will say that this book is long and while it kept me engaged for the most part, there were chapters
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Thoughts on this book 5 13 Nov 07, 2014 04:50PM  
  • Seductive Poison: A Jonestown Survivor's Story of Life and Death in the Peoples Temple
  • Heaven's Harlots: My Fifteen Years as a Sacred Prostitute in the Children of God Cult
  • Jesus Freaks: A True Story of Murder and Madness on the Evangelical Edge
  • Valerie Solanas: The Defiant Life of the Woman Who Wrote SCUM (and Shot Andy Warhol)
  • Negro with a Hat: The Rise and Fall of Marcus Garvey and His Dream of Mother Africa
  • Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies: The Straight Scoop on Freemasons, The Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Black Helicopters, The New World Order, and many, many more
  • Painted Shadow: The Life of Vivienne Eliot, First Wife of T. S. Eliot
  • Stalin and His Hangmen: The Tyrant and Those Who Killed for Him
  • Big Trouble: A Murder in a Small Western Town Sets off a Struggle for the Soul of America
  • The Lonely Hunter: A Biography of Carson McCullers
  • The Broken Tower: The Life of Hart Crane
  • Cults in Our Midst: The Continuing Fight Against Their Hidden Menace
  • Every Knee Shall Bow
  • The Rise of Life on Earth
  • The Color of Night
  • Killing the Messenger: A Story of Radical Faith, Racism's Backlash, and the Assassination of a Journalist
  • One Matchless Time: A Life of William Faulkner
  • A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown

Share This Book