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The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  9,161 ratings  ·  1,409 reviews
By the New York Times bestselling author of Manson, the comprehensive, authoritative, and tragic story of preacher Jim Jones, who was responsible for the Jonestown Massacre—the largest murder-suicide in American history.

In the 1950s, a young Indianapolis minister named Jim Jones preached a curious blend of the gospel and Marxism. His congregation was racially integrated, a
Kindle Edition, 454 pages
Published April 11th 2017 by Simon & Schuster
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Haris Mohammad Instead of just focusing on the rise and fall of Jim Jones and his community.Jeff Guinn focuses on how Jim Jones catastrophic allure, and his beliefs/…moreInstead of just focusing on the rise and fall of Jim Jones and his community.Jeff Guinn focuses on how Jim Jones catastrophic allure, and his beliefs/promises of racial equality, and his idea of a socialist utopia lured hundreds of people into his fatal orbit.(less)
Becca Jacquin I'm currently reading a digital ARC of the book and I haven't encountered any pictures. That's not to say there won't be at some point, or in a physic…moreI'm currently reading a digital ARC of the book and I haven't encountered any pictures. That's not to say there won't be at some point, or in a physical copy. I will update you upon finishing the book if you'd like.(less)

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Mar 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Pardon my rambling... my mind has not been this blown by a book in a long, long time!

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Jeff Guinn, and Simon & Schuster for providing me with a copy of this book, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

My ongoing trek though the world of biographies would not have been complete without a comprehensive piece about an individual who is often misunderstood in history. Jeff Guinn has provided this with his stellar piece on Jim Jones a
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and the People’s Temple by Jeff Guinn is a 2017 Simon & Schuster publication.

Thoroughly chilling…

While I was only in my early teens in 1978, I still recall the news footage of the “Jonestown Massacre”. I understood on some level what had happened, but I couldn’t fully digest it. I tried not to watch the news reports and steered clear of conversations about it because it made me extremely uncomfortable. It was too much for me to cope with, and in all honesty, I s
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
The Road to Jonestown was fascinating -- and depressing. I listened to the audio. The author, Jeff Guinn, did a great job of tracing Jim Jones' history and the events leading up to the mass suicide in Jonestown. It's a good study of the making of a narcissistic paranoid megalomaniac. It's still hard for me to understand how Jones attracted and kept his many followers, but I feel that I get it a bit more. Jones had a great need for approval and adulation, and he seemed to be able to zero in on pe ...more
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
The beginning chapters of this bio were a little unilluminating except for the odd habit that the child Jim Jones had of conducting animal funerals, which he made other smaller children than himself attend. He did not kill these animals, apparently he just found them. There was one instance that went beyond this, a childhood playmate said he lured a puppy to its death through a door in the floor onto the concrete below. He also venerated Hitler and his goose steppers, unlike the other boys in hi ...more
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
So I've always sort of had a grim fascination with cults & extreme religious groups. It's one of humanity's most despicable tendencies, but it's incredibly interesting to me to see how groups of otherwise intelligent people become entrapped in factions like this that are so easy to condemn in hindsight.

This story in particular held my attention because:

1. Many folks I know were actually alive when the tragedy of Jim Jones & Peoples Temple came about, as it happened in the late 70's. This makes t
Johann (jobis89)
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"No one listening, even those who were the most devoted to him, could take it all in. But at some point each follower heard something that reaffirmed his or her personal reason for belonging to Peoples Temple, and for believing in Jim Jones. As Jonestown historian Fielding McGehee observes, "What you thought Jim said depended on who you were.""

The comprehensive and tragic story of preacher Jim Jones - who was responsible for the Jonestown Massacre that saw the death of 900+ people in a huge mass
This book is mostly composed of what I can only describe as administrative details of Jim Jones's People Temple. Pages and pages and pages of unimportant, forgettable detail. The move to Jonestown, where 900 Americans would meet their tragic end in the Guyanese jungle at the orders of their cult leader, doesn't even happen until 350 pages into the book. The murder/suicide itself gets crammed into about 3 paragraphs. I don't understand why this author chose to prioritize the irrelevant and gloss ...more
Apr 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own, first-reads
Won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. After I received it, I met the author at the San Antonio Book Festival and got my book signed!!!!
 photo b6c28287-6c39-4275-88d7-d392c6763327_zps9ag8hlwx.jpg
In The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and the People's Temple, the author does a good job describing Jim Jones and the events that lead up to the suicide-murder through extensive research and interviews. I remember hearing about it on the car radio (when I was a youngen) yet not truly understanding the horrendous act until many years later. If you want to lea
Apr 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Road to Jonestown- Jim Jones and Peoples Temple is among the best comprehensive and authoritative books written covering the Jonestown massacre that claimed the lives of 918 people in Guyana, South America on November 18, 1978. Author Jeff Guinn began his extensive research in 2014, and studied the fascinating story behind the grim and sensational media reports and headlines. There are thousands of documents and photographs contained in government archives on Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple ...more
"Her fear was that a mass suicide would not be appreciated as a sincere and historic statement: 'I know we can't worry about how [what we do] will be interpreted... maybe in some 50 years someone will understand and perhaps be motivated. I don't have much illusion about all that. I just hate to see it all go for naught.'
- Carolyn Layton, Peoples Temple member, and mother of one of Jim Jones' children

Jeff Guinn lays everything out in The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple - he re
Rebecca McNutt
If there's one book that comes close to unfolding the strange horror that is Jonestown, The Road to Jonestown is definitely it. A mentally unstable con man through and through, Jim Jones led his followers into what has been called the largest massacre of American citizens prior to the September 11th Attacks in 2001. Caught up in the hippie counterculture, race wars and the romanticism of socialism, Jonestown somehow managed to explode into creation in the malaise of the wake of the love generati ...more
Diane in Australia
Jim Jones. Peoples Temple. Jonestown. Names that make shivers run up our spines.

I've read many books on Jim, but this one stands out for being very 'facts' dense ... very. If you want to know the 'back story' to Jim, this is the one to read. There are 31 pages of end notes!

Jim was a man who started out with a burning passion to help the oppressed, needy folks that filled ghettos in places like Indianapolis, where his first church began. Peoples Temple was the church where you could 'get somethin
What a sad, sad, story. Even while I was listening, I was hoping for a different ending.

Jeff Guinn is an excellent author of true crime. He is somehow able to relate the facts of the story without passing judgement. In this case, I learned a lot. The Peoples Church, (no apostrophe!), did a lot of work in the area of desegregation. Jim Jones and his wife even adopted a black child. In fact, they did a lot of good works together, for the elderly and for the members of their church.

But as so ofte
LeAnne: GeezerMom
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddy-reads
Let me toss out a hypothetical here. Let's say the US has been embroiled in an unpopular overseas war for some time. At home, the urban poor are having trouble finding decent wages. Politicians are in constant badgering disagreement. Police brutality toward people of color is troublesome. There are major concerns about Russia's intentions toward our country.

A young minister is down at his heels financially, but because he believes firmly in racial equality, he and his wife adopt children of diff
Valerity (Val)

Having read many of the available books about Jonestown throughout the years since it happened, I didn't think that there was a whole lot more to be said on the subject. But I also figured that since it's been a number of years since I've done the reading, that this book would be a great refresher on the topic. Well, it was that, but also a heck of a lot more. Guinn's book is a skilled, in-depth look at James Warren Jones, from his birth on May 13, 1931 and lon
✨Sumi's Books✨
Well done...
This is a biography on Rev. Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple. The Temple's mass suicide in 1978 in South America hit world news and is known throughout the world as one of the most tragic instances in history.
I'd like to say that this book was a hard one to read due to the subject matter. However, I believe that because of the way it is written it made it a much easier pill to swallow. This book is written as a biography not as a run of the mill true crime novel. There is nearly no p
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Road to Jonestown is a comprehensive look into the life of Jim Jones and the events that led to the deaths of 900+ people in the jungle of Guyana.

Growing up in a dysfunctional family in a religious community formed the foundation for the rest of Jones's life.  He found socialism in his teens and soon found a way to spread his message with religion.

Without giving you a book report, I'll just say that this book is incredibly detailed and shows readers the gradual shift Jones made in his preach
Ellen Gail
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I finished a book! Now I'm only 18 books behind schedule.

Anyway this was good and I will try to write a review for it. I promise. Once I get completely settled and into a routine at work I will hopefully be back to being a reading machine.
Aug 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am giving this book5 stars because of how it chose to handle its theme, with facts, well researched mentions and from all perspectives possible. The story of Jonestown is one we all think we know ....but how did we got was one man able to "dupe" thousands of people into killing them selves? .... could this had been prevented? ....who was Jim jones and what did he want ? .....all of these questions are addressed by this author in this book and the narrative flows very ...more
Diane Barnes
This book was unsettling, to say the least. I'm old enough to remember the mass suicide of the religious cult in the jungle, and this book gives all the details, from Jones birth in Indiana, to his rise as a minister, and finally, his belief that he was a God and savior himself. How anyone in their right mind could follow this man, sign all their property over to him, and in a lot of cases, even their children, allow him to direct every aspect of their lives and give him total control; it's all ...more
I had no idea.

I, like so many of us, knew the Jonestown "Massacre" from metaphorical references to Kool-Aid (which, this book is keen to point out was actually Flavor-Aid), and ... in some foggy memory from the eighties ... an episode of Phil Donahue. But I really knew nothing.

The thing that strikes me most about Jeff Guinn's book about Peoples Temple and Jim Jones is how fair Guinn is with his subjects. Guinn is assiduous when pointing out the good Peoples Temple and Jones himself did for the
Brendan Monroe
Don't drink the Kool-Aid!

That reference is probably the most lasting thing to have come out of the Jonestown tragedy. I'm not sure how the Kool-Aid people feel about the fact that their product is now forever associated with mass suicide and used throughout the English-speaking world as an example of someone being brainwashed/totally deluded, but I have a feeling that, somewhere, a Kool-Aid employee curses every time they hear a person trot out the silly "all publicity is good publicity!" line.
Alice Lippart
A very thorough and interesting look at this case, but feels a bit long and took me ages to get through.
Donna Davis
The good news is that Jeff Guinn tells us everything there is to know about Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple.

The bad news is that Jeff Guinn tells everything there is to know about Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple.

This reviewer was just out of high school when the media frenzy emerged around the mass suicide of hundreds of Americans living in a cult called The Peoples Temple, which was sequestered in the equatorial jungles in Guyana, South America. No one could understand it; why would so many
“Who wants to go with their child has a right .... I think it’s humane.” - Jim Jones

I only knew vague details, and only of the end result, prior to reading this. My god, this story is fascinating, captivating, and truly devastating. Definitely one of my top reads of this year.

The audio is impeccably narrated. I also grabbed the ebook for the times I couldn’t listen. I preferred the audio, but there’s a photo section in the ebook (like the physical book) that really adds to the story. If you real
Erin *Help I’m Reading and I Can’t Get Up*
Utterly riveting. Well-written, journalistic-- not sensational. The author occasionally repeats some key facts, apparently not realizing that readers won't be able to put this down and therefore won't need reminding of facts we just read an hour or two ago!
Jill Hutchinson
If you became aware of a man who had no racial bias, took care of the poor by offering free meals, job placement, day care, drug rehabilitation, and nursing home care, you would be in awe of such an individual. But you would be wrong if his name was Jim Jones.

In November, 1978, the Jonestown Massacre in Guyana (formerly British Guyana), South America, shocked the world and revealed Jones for what he was...a drug addled psychopath who held hundreds in thrall of his message and his paranoia that
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Church of the Poisoned Mind. Really, that’s what the Peoples Temple was. A church, if you want to call it that, led by a sociopath. A cult that preyed on the poor and the gullible in the name of socialism and communism. Lost souls, both educated and uneducated, bonded by a cause that led over 900 people that included 300 children to die either by force or by their own will in a hot, sweaty, jungle in Guyana due to cyanide poisoning in syringes and vats of Flavor-Aid.

“Keep them poor and keep
Caidyn (BW Reviews; he/him/his)
This review and others can be found at BW Book Reviews.


I received this ARC from Netgalley and the publisher for an honest review.

My first brush with Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple was through a movie called The Sacrament, which is basically a fictional (and semi-paranormal) retelling of it. Tons of the reviews for it talked about Jim Jones so I researched on the internet and read up on the actual Peoples Temple. Their fate and the suicide and Jones' corruption. So, I had a rudimentary ide
This was an eye-opening read all about the rise and fall of the Peoples Temple. I knew very little about this pseudo religious cult before picking this book up. After finishing, I now feel like I know way TOO much! The chapters are short which makes it a fast-paced read. Guinn's narrative will have you hooked and turning the pages. I highly recommend it to lovers of true crime.
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Jeff Guinn is a former longtime journalist, who has won national, regional and state awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, and literary criticism.

Guinn is also the bestselling author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction including, but not limited to: Go Down Together: The True Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde (which was a finalist for an Edgar Award in 2010); The Last Gunfig

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“No one listening [to Jones' sermons], even those who were the most devoted to him, could take it all in. But at some point each follower heard something that reaffirmed his or her personal reason for belonging to Peoples Temple, and for believing in Jim Jones. As Jonestown historian Fielding McGehee observes, "What you thought Jim said depended on who you were.” 4 likes
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