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 ma...moreEven 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" the Jonestown tragedy -- to go one of two ways: either full-bore into the lurid violence of it or timidly into how Jones was a tragic idealist driven to do terrible things by paranoia and drugs. Reiterman takes neither path, reminding us that Jim Jones was deranged from a very early age, and he wasn't driven over the edge by fighting the establishment for socialism -- he was all but fulfilling a set of conditions with a single horrifying conclusion.
Of course, the many failures of government and law enforcement to stop Jim Jones were not as inevitable as his own murderous destruction. (less)