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

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

by Tim Reiterman


$18.00 $20.00 Save 10% Current price is $18, Original price is $20. You Save 10%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Thursday, January 24

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781585426782
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/13/2008
Pages: 688
Sales rank: 153,934
Product dimensions: 6.02(w) x 8.92(h) x 1.54(d)
Age Range: 18 - 14 Years

About the Author

Tim Reiterman is a prizewinning journalist who extensively covered Jonestown for the San Francisco Examiner. He was wounded in the Guyanese jungle airstrip attack that killed a U.S. congressman, plus three reporters, and a Peoples Temple defector. A longtime writer and editor at the Los Angeles Times, Reiterman worked for the past eight years as Northern California News Editor for the Associated Press and now heads AP’s global environmental reporting team. Reiterman originally published Raven in 1982. His collaborator John Jacobs was a widely respected journalist who died in 2000

Read an Excerpt


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

Excerpted from "Raven"
by .
Copyright © 2008 Tim Reiterman.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Daniel Schorr

An extraordinary inquiry into the individual pathology of Jim Jones . . . To assemble this portrait obviously required staggering research. The writing is sensitive and lucid. The result is a document which will illumine a dark corner of our era.

From the Publisher

“The seminal book on the story of Jonestown.” —Associated Press

“Unquestionably emerges as the most valuable book on Jonestown to date…Every piece of the puzzle is here.”—David Evanier, National Review

“An extraordinary inquiry into the individual pathology of Jim Jones…To assemble this portrait obviously required staggering research. The writing is sensitive and lucid. The result is a document which will illumine a dark corner of our era.”—Daniel Schorr “After reading Raven, there should be no more questions…A tour de force on the Rev. James Jones and the events that led his 900 disciples to drink poisoned punch on Nov. 18, 1978.” —Charlie Frush, The Philadelphia Inquirer

“This stands as the definitive history …carefully compiled and completely horrifying.” —Marshall Kilduff, San Francisco Chronicle

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
DDay on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Extremely detailed and researched book about Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple. It starts somewhat slow looking at Jones' life from the beginning, describing his parents and childhood and the beginning of his ministry in Indiana. It was a bit hard for me to get into because of the density and overall abundance of information, but all of this was necessary to grasp the full picture. By the end of the book I couldn't put it down, even though I pretty much knew the ending. What really impressed me was the author's dispassionateness - if I hadn't read the introduction, I would have never had guessed how close the author Tim Reiterman was to Jonestown story until the last section of the book. That is not to say he hid his connection/involvement, but that he was able to examine the Peoples Temple and Jim Jones from a solid journalistic perspective.
profilerSR on LibraryThing 5 months ago
As many of us on LT remember, "pastor" Jim Jones established a settlement in Guyana called Jonestown. On November 18, 1978, he coerced the entire settlement (over 900 people, minus a few who escaped) into drinking Flavor-Aid laced with cyanide and other drugs, dying excruciating deaths. How on God's green earth could someone have so much power over others?!!! Seeing the pictures of the masses of people laying on the grounds of the compound is one of the "flashbulb memories" of my childhood. Reiterman has written a stunning book which reveals the all-too-fallible personality behind the murder-suicides. Reiterman has more than earned the street cred to write this story. He is a journalist who covered the People's Temple for over a year before the massacre. He visited Jonestown with Congressman Leo Ryan, and was wounded in the airstrip shootings which killed Ryan (perpetrated by Temple members). He has done his homework as well, with massive amounts of interviews of people with all levels of involvement in the cult. His portait of Jim Jones is especially revealing, what psychologists call a "psychological autopsy". I can verify that it is topnotch. Reiterman chillingly builds the madness, piece by insurmountable piece. The strategies used by Jones are similar to what abusive husbands use only on a grander scale. Reading this book is like being on an out-of-control roller-coster with no brakes. We see the ending coming and it is the stuff of nightmares. A blurb on the back of the book puts it succinctly.. "carefully compiled and completely horrifying".
bcquinnsmom on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Tim Reiterman was one of the journalists who accompanied Congressman Leo Ryan to Jonestown in November of 1978. His book not only examines what happened there, but goes back to the childhood of Jim Jones and the beginnings of the movement known as the Peoples Temple so as to "capture the lure of the Temple, to convey the thinking and personalities of not just disgruntled defectors but also of the heartbroken loyalists with something positive to preserve and remember -- and to unmask the real Jim Jones. And I wanted to humanize them all to get at the truth, to make the ending comprehensible" (5). To achieve this goal, he and his co-author John Jacobs did 800+ interviews, reviewed tens of thousands of pages of documents, tape recordings, video, and film. The result is a phenomenal book.What really interested me the most, I think, was Reiterman's examination, starting with Jones' boyhood, of how exactly Jones learned to get others to do exactly what he wanted them to do. The people who came to the Peoples Temple and who became followers of Jones early on weren't coerced or forced into it -- they all had various reasons for being there and for embracing Jones' message. However, it was what happened once they were inside that matters, as little by little Jones began to isolate them from the rest of the world so that they came to depend solely on him and the movement. Reiterman shows clearly how this occurred, and how Jones, along with his top tier of chosen people, manipulated things from inside. He also shows how when there were attacks on the movement (from the media, "defectors", etc.), Jones' paranoia only made things worse, causing him to do and say things that only heightened their attackers' interests in the Peoples Temple. It was this type of paranoia that led Jones to Guyana and Jonestown and ultimately to the horrifying events of November 1978. The narrative is at times chilling, but very clear, based mostly on first-hand evidence and testimony. I very highly recommend this book to anyone even remotely interested in Jonestown, the Peoples Temple movement or in how otherwise intelligent people might find themselves in this sort of predicament. Excellent reading; long, but well worth every second.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
And this is the most factual and extensive. It is a journalistic account and mostly succeeds in keeping the authors' bias out of things. Mostly. Reiterman was there on the 18th and it would be impossible for him to write this account completely free of opinion. The essential book for anyone interested in Jonestown and Peoples Temple.
karen63Kl More than 1 year ago
Very readable. Written by someone who actually knew Jim Jones. Show the disintigration of his personality and his descent into madness. Answers some of the questions that have lingered for years.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hands down the best tell-all true crime novel i've ever read! Absolutely fascinating- couldn't put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Kamina33 More than 1 year ago
Deep, dark and will leave you wondering how such a man could have sooo much power.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hate dentists.