A THOUSAND LIVES:
The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown.
By Julia Scheeres.
Free Press. 307 pp. $26
On November 18, 1978, more than 900 Americans living in a socialist collective in Guyana were murdered or took their own lives. Many poisoned themselves with Flavor Aid laced with cyanide. Their bodies were found scattered around Jonestown, the plantation they’d carved out of the jungle four years earlier at the behest of their leader, Jim Jones. He had promised his followers an egalitarian utopia, but Jonestown defectors had returned to the United States calling the place a prison. Leo Ryan, a Democratic congressman from California, led a small entourage to Guyana to investigate. When Jonestown gunmen killed Ryan and several others, Jones ordered aides to roll out stockpiles of poison; he and his followers would find peace in death before the authorities arrived.
If you want ...
Research, browse, and discover more than 35 years of articles, essays, and reviews by preeminent scholars and writers. Our searchable archive of back issues is free for WQ subscribers.
Darcy Courteau, a former assistant editor of The Wilson Quarterly, has written for publications including TheAtlantic.com, The American Scholar, and The Oxford American.more from this author >>