Ellen Brandt's Reviews > A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown

A Thousand Lives by Julia Scheeres
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's review
Feb 19, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: audiobook, for-grownups, memoirs-biography, nonfiction
Read from February 06 to 19, 2012

This creepy story is all the more unsettling because it actually happened. The victims were American citizens from all walks of life; young, old, black, white, illiterate, well educated (doctor, lawyer). They shared a common vision of racial integration and equality for all, but when their charismatic leader started becoming noticeably unbalanced, most didn't - and then couldn't, leave the People's temple.
The author (who has first hand experience of life in a cult) did extensive research using journals, notes and letters written by the victims as well as eye-witness accounts from defectors/survivors and family members. She focuses on the stories of a handful of the victims; providing background about what compelled them to join People's Temple and why they stayed.
I had trouble stomaching the section of the book that describes life in Guyana as Jim Jones became more and more deranged and tortured his congregants in increasingly horrifying ways.
I finally gave up about 3/4 of the way through. The human rights atrocities were really getting to me and I knew the story was not going to end well.

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message 1: by Bobbi (new)

Bobbi Lamont Joyce Carole Oates was my favorite during my creepy stories period....and can't beat In Cold Blood, Capote.

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