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Best Jonestown Books to Read

Our list of some of the best Jonestown books & series in recent years. Get inspired by one or more of the following books.

1. The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple (2018)

Best Jonestown Books to Read“A thoroughly readable, thoroughly chilling account of a brilliant con man and his all-too vulnerable prey” (The Boston Globe)—the definitive story of preacher Jim Jones, who was responsible for the Jonestown Massacre, the largest murder-suicide in American history, by the New York Times bestselling author of Manson.In the 1950s, a young Indianapolis minister named Jim Jones preached a curious blend of the gospel and Marxism. His congregation was racially mixed, and he was a leader in the early civil rights movement. Eventually, Jones moved his church, Peoples Temple, to northern California, where…
Author(s): Jeff Guinn

2. A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Jonestown (2012)

Best Jonestown Books to Readopened a church in Indianapolis called Peoples Temple Full Gospel Church. He was a charismatic preacher with idealistic beliefs, and he quickly filled his pews with an audience eager to hear his sermons on social justice. As Jones’s behavior became erratic and his message more ominous, his followers leaned on each other to recapture the sense of equality that had drawn them to his church. But even as the congregation thrived, Jones made it increasingly difficult for members to leave. By the time Jones moved his congregation to a remote jungle in Guyana and the U.S. government began to…
Author(s): Julia Scheeres

3. Seductive Poison: A Jonestown Survivor’s Story of Life and Death in the Peoples Temple (1999)

Best Jonestown Books to ReadA high-level member of Jim Jones’s Peoples Temple for seven years, Deborah Layton escaped his infamous commune in the Guyanese jungle, leaving behind her mother, her older brother, and many friends. She returned to the United States with warnings of impending disaster, but her pleas for help fell on skeptical ears, and shortly thereafter, in November 1978, the Jonestown massacre shocked the world. Seductive Poison is both an unflinching historical document and a suspenseful story of intrigue, power, and murder….
Author(s): Deborah Layton

4. Salvation and Suicide: An Interpretation of Jim Jones, the Peoples Temple, and Jonestown (Religion in North America) (2003)

Best Jonestown Books to ReadPraise for the first edition:”[This] ambitious and courageous book [is a] benchmark of theology by which questions about the meaningful history of the Peoples Temple may be measured.” ―Journal of the American Academy of ReligionRe-issued in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the mass suicides at Jonestown, this revised edition of David Chidester’s pathbreaking book features a new prologue that considers the meaning of the tragedy for a post-Waco, post-9/11 world. For Chidester, Jonestown recalls the American religious commitment to redemptive sacrifice, which for Jim Jones…
Author(s): David Chidester

5. Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People (2008)

Best Jonestown Books to ReadTim Reiterman’s Raven provides the seminal history of the Rev. Jim Jones, the Peoples Temple, and the murderous ordeal at Jonestown in 1978. 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 reportage clarifies enduring misperceptions of the character and motives of Jim Jones, the reasons why people followed him, and the important truth that many of those who perished at Jonestown were victims of mass…
Author(s): Tim Reiterman

6. Undaunted: Surviving Jonestown, Summoning Courage, and Fighting Back (2018)

Best Jonestown Books to ReadJackie Speier was twenty-eight when she joined Congressman Leo Ryan’s delegation to rescue defectors from cult leader Jim Jones’s Peoples Temple in Jonestown, Guyana. Ryan was killed on the airstrip tarmac. Jackie was shot five times at point-blank range. While recovering from what would become one of the most harrowing tragedies in recent history, Jackie had to choose: Would she become a victim or a fighter? The choice to survive against unfathomable odds empowered her with a resolve to become a vocal proponent for human rights.From the formative nightmare that radically molded…
Author(s): Jackie Speier

7. Jonestown Survivor: An Insider’s Look (2010)

Best Jonestown Books to ReadLaura Johnston Kohl was a teen activist working to integrate public facilities in the Washington, D.C., area. She actively fought for civil rights and free speech, and against the Vietnam War throughout the 1960s. After trying to effect change single-handedly, she found she needed more hands. She joined Peoples Temple in 1970, living and working in the progressive religious movement in both California and Guyana. A fluke saved her from the mass murders and suicides on November 18, 1978, when 913 of her beloved friends died in Jonestown. Soon after this, Synanon, a residential community, helped…
Author(s): Laura Johnston Kohl

8. Keep Music Evil: The Brian Jonestown Massacre Story (2019)

Best Jonestown Books to ReadThe Brian Jonestown Massacre are probably best known for their leader Anton Newcombe’s incendiary persona, as captured in the controversial 2004 rockumentary Dig! – which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance  – but what isn’t known is the truth behind the making of the film, or the true story of the band since their formation in early 1990s San Francisco. Until now. Writer, actor, and musician Jesse Valencia spent ten years uncovering the mysteries of the band and the film, during which time he has traveled from San Francisco to Denver, Portland to Tucson, and beyond, gathering pieces of the band’s history and…
Author(s): Jesse Valencia

9. Jesus Land: A Memoir (2012)

Best Jonestown Books to ReadJulia and her adopted brother, David, are sixteen-years-old. Julia is white. David is black. It is the mid-1980s and their family has just moved to rural Indiana, a landscape of cottonwood trees, trailer parks, and an all-encompassing racism. At home are a distant mother—more involved with her church’s missionaries than her own children—and a violent father. In this riveting and heartrending memoir Julia Scheeres takes us from the Midwest to a place beyond imagining: surrounded by natural beauty, the Escuela Caribe—a religious reform school in the Dominican…
Author(s): Julia Scheeres

10. Slavery of Faith: The untold story of the Peoples Temple from the eyes of a thirteen year old, her escape from Jonestown at 20 and life 30 years later. (2009)

Best Jonestown Books to ReadSlavery Of Faith…the quietly kept story of a young woman’s escape through the jungles of Jonestown, Guyana the morning of the massacre November 18, 1978 and her struggles to live in the aftermath. November 18, 2008 marks 30 years since the Jonestown, Guyana Massacre/Suicides and the death of its founder, the Reverend Jim Jones. Escaping Jonestown, Guyana the morning of November 18,1978 with nine others, Leslie Wagner-Wilson then twenty one years old, trekked thirty seven miles through the jungle with a 40-pound care package strapped to her back with a sheet, her son, later to be known as the…
Author(s): Leslie Wagner-Wilson

Best Jonestown Books to Read

We highly recommend you to buy all paper or e-books in a legal way, for example, on Amazon. But sometimes it might be a need to dig deeper beyond the shiny book cover. Before making a purchase, you can visit resources like Genesis and download some jonestown books mentioned below at your own risk. Once again, we do not host any illegal or copyrighted files, but simply give our visitors a choice and hope they will make a wise decision.

The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple

Author(s): Jeff Guinn
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Year: 2017, Size: 59 Mb, Download: epub
ID: 1714883

A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown

Author(s): Julia Scheeres
Publisher: Free Press, Year: 2011, Size: 5 Mb, Download: epub
ID: 851946

Jonestown: The Power and the Myth of Alan Jones

Author(s): Chris Masters
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, Year: 2006, Size: 3 Mb, Download: epub
ID: 1118979

Please note that this booklist is not final. Some books are truly chart-busters according to The Wall Street Journal, others are composed by unknown authors. On top of that, you can always find additional tutorials and courses on Coursera, Udemy or edX, for example. Are there any other relevant links you could recommend? Drop a comment if you have any feedback on the list.

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