Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People

Overview

For the first time in paperback, Tim Reiterman’s Raven provides the definitive history of the Rev. Jim Jones, the Peoples Temple, and the murderous ordeal at Jonestown three decades ago. 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 ...

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Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People

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Overview

For the first time in paperback, Tim Reiterman’s Raven provides the definitive history of the Rev. Jim Jones, the Peoples Temple, and the murderous ordeal at Jonestown three decades ago. 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 murder rather than suicide.

This widely sought work is restored to print after many years with a new preface by the author, as well as the more than sixty-five rare photographs from the original volume.

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Editorial Reviews

David Evanier
Unquestionably emerges as the most valuable book on Jonestown to date . . . Every piece of the puzzle is here.
National Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585426782
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 11/13/2008
  • Pages: 688
  • Sales rank: 344,186
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 8.92 (h) x 1.54 (d)

Meet the Author

Tim ReitermanN is a prizewinning journalist who extensively covered Jonestown for The San Francisco Examiner. He was wounded in the jungle airstrip attack that killed Representative Leo Ryan, plus three reporters and a temple defector. Reiterman has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and other national broadcasts. In the past two years, he was featured in a History Channel docudrama about the final days of Jonestown, as well as an Oscar— nominated documentary on Jonestown for PBS's American Experience. Reiterman writes for the Los Angeles Times. His collaborator John Jacobs was a widely respected journalist who died in 2000.
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Read an Excerpt

Preface

Three decades have passed since more than 900 Americans suffered horrible deaths in the jungle of the impoverished South American country of Guyana. The events in Jonestown on November 18, 1978, orchestrated by a charismatic preacher named Jim Jones and triggered by the slaying of a United States congressman on a nearby airstrip, have long ago moved from worldwide headlines to the pages of history. Yet fascination with the final days of Jonestown and the life of Jones has persisted over the years.

One of the most shocking and baffling events of the last century, the demise of Peoples Temple has been chronicled in books, movies, documentaries, plays, scholarly studies and countless television retrospectives. The images of an American tragedy on foreign soil — poisoned punch squirted down the throats of infants, families locked in final embrace, mounds of bodies bloated in the tropical heat — have endured in print, photos, video footage and memory.

Jonestown has come to symbolize unfathomable depravity, the outermost limits of what human beings can visit on each other and themselves, the ultimate power of a leader over his followers. Although complex and elusive, the reasons for the collapse of the Temple’s utopian dream into a hellish nightmare have been reduced again and again to a simplistic interpretation: a Svengali led his compliant, even robotic, flock to mass suicide. But Peoples Temple was more than a creation of one man’s vision. The Temple was a product of its time and the search for alternative religions and social relevance in the post-civil rights and post-Vietnam eras. Its story also speaks to the timeless yearnings of the human spirit for a sense of belonging, to be part of something larger than ourselves.

Above the wooden, throne-like chair from which Jones lorded over his people hung a sign that said: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’’ However, remembering the past is one thing, understanding it quite another. And this volume endeavors to do both, while piercing the many myths that have shrouded the truth about Jones, his followers, and the remote agricultural settlement that bore his name.

—Tim Reiterman
2008

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2008

    An important work, but extremely disturbing.

    Haunting and disturbing. I bought this for my husband, a history buff, and he was too disturbed by the content to finish it. I read it instead, and while it is difficult (emotionally) to read, it is extremely well written and researched. I had a difficult time putting it down. If you can handle the subject matter, this is a very interesting book.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2012

    I actually have one of the first hard back books and have read i

    I actually have one of the first hard back books and have read it many times over the years. It takes you inside the temple from the very begining to the horrifing end. It shows how his mental health took him from a good man to a monster. It also shows how a normal person can be attracted to what becomes a cult. I will buy the paperback of this book so i can loan it to others . Really is a must read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2013

    Hands down the best tell-all true crime novel i've ever read! Ab

    Hands down the best tell-all true crime novel i've ever read! Absolutely fascinating- couldn't put it down!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2013

    Informative

    This is the most credible account of the life and atrocities of jim jones ever written. If you want the truth and if you can deal with the darkness of this extremely satanic monster, read this book. It is at least good to know a few people escaped, not the least of which was his own biological son stevan. I hope he is doing well. He was one of only a few that tried to stand between his father and the evil his father constantly perpetrated.

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  • Posted January 10, 2013

    Deep, dark and will leave you wondering how such a man could hav

    Deep, dark and will leave you wondering how such a man could have sooo much power.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2012

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    Posted June 22, 2011

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    Posted May 1, 2011

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    Posted September 17, 2011

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