ISBN-10:
0313352518
ISBN-13:
9780313352515
Pub. Date:
03/20/2009
Publisher:
ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Understanding Jonestown and Peoples Temple

Understanding Jonestown and Peoples Temple

by Rebecca Moore

Hardcover

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Overview

Most people understand Peoples Temple through its violent end in Jonestown, Guyana in 1978, where more than 900 Americans committed murder and suicide in a jungle commune. Media coverage of the event sensationalized the group and obscured the background of those who died. The view that emerged thirty years ago continues to dominate understanding of Jonestown today, despite dozens of books, articles, and documentaries that have appeared. This book provides a fresh perspective on Peoples Temple and Jonestown, locating the group within the context of religion in America and offering a contemporary history that corrects the inaccuracies often associated with the group and its demise.

Although Peoples Temple has some of the characteristics many associate with cults, it also shares many characteristics of Black Religion in America. Moreover, it is crucial to understand the organization within the social and political movements of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Race, class, colonialism, gender, and other issues dominated the times, and so dominated the consciousness of the members of Peoples Temple. Here, Moore, who lost three family members in the events in Guyana, offers a framework of U.S. social, cultural, and political history that helps readers better understand Peoples Temple and its members.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780313352515
Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Publication date: 03/20/2009
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 179
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Rebecca Moore is chair of the Department of Religious Studies at San Diego State University. She is co-editor of Nova Religio: The Journal of New and Emergent Religions, and served on the Steering Committee of the New Religious Movements Group of the American Academy of Religion for six years. She has published extensively on Peoples Temple, her interest stemming, in part, from the loss of three family members in the mass deaths in Jonestown, Guyana, in November 1978. Her most recent book on Peoples Temple is as co-editor of a volume titled Peoples Temple and Black Religion in America (2004).

Table of Contents

CONTENTS

Acknowledgements

Authors Note

Introduction

Chapter 1. Beyond White Trash

Chapter 2. California Dreamin

Chapter 3. The Promised Land

Chapter 4. Fighting Monsters

Chapter 5. The Abyss

Chapter 6. Preserving the Ultimate Concern

Chapter 7. Dehumanizing the Dead

Chapter 8. Jonestown Re-Enters American Culture

Chapter 9. Making Meaning After Jonestown

Resources

Index

What People are Saying About This

Jeff Guinn

"No one understands better, or explains more completely, the complexities of Jonestown and Peoples Temple than Rebecca Moore. This book is one reason why I consider her to be the best source and author on these subjects."

Tanya HollisArchivist/Manuscripts Librarian

"Rebecca Moore's thoughtful, balanced book makes a significant contribution to recent scholarship aimed at redressing the sensationalism of many previous accounts of Peoples Temple and Jonestown. This book deepens our understanding of the tragedy of Jonestown by refusing to reduce the story to that single ending. This eye to human complexity also guides the book into the present, examining the lives of survivors, the state of current research and scholarship, and the figure of Peoples Temple as it appears in contemporary artistic and cultural work. Moore also provides the reader with enough resources to open a multitude of avenues to further research. Accessible to the student historian, her perspective prompts wide-ranging and important questions on our contemporary practices and ways of thinking about religion, community, and memory."

Catherine Wessinger

"Rebecca Moore's study is a comprehensive and accessible treatment based on forty years of research and reflection on the dynamics that caused the tragic deaths in Jonestown on November 18, 1978 and the event's impact on American culture. Drawing on an array of primary sources, Moore provides an astute and honest account of Peoples Temple and Jonestown, while simultaneously depicting the humanity of the individual members. This book will inform specialists, students, and general readers. I highly recommend it."

Tanya HolliS Archivist/Manuscripts Librarian

"Rebecca Moore's thoughtful, balanced book makes a significant contribution to recent scholarship aimed at redressing the sensationalism of many previous accounts of Peoples Temple and Jonestown. This book deepens our understanding of the tragedy of Jonestown by refusing to reduce the story to that single ending. This eye to human complexity also guides the book into the present, examining the lives of survivors, the state of current research and scholarship, and the figure of Peoples Temple as it appears in contemporary artistic and cultural work. Moore also provides the reader with enough resources to open a multitude of avenues to further research. Accessible to the student historian, her perspective prompts wide-ranging and important questions on our contemporary practices and ways of thinking about religion, community, and memory."

Laura Johnston KohlJonestown and Peoples Temple survivor

"As one of a few survivors, I continue to learn details and facts that were hidden from me. I learned many new details when I read the book. An ever-growing group is collaborating to put the pieces together in a mosaic that will bring together the truest picture we can make. Rebecca's book will be one of the cornerstones used to build an understanding of the facts, not the media blitz, and not a simplistic view of the horror of the ending. Those who lost their lives in Guyana and those whose lives were decimated here in the United States deserve more than that, and Rebecca articulately puts the facts together to so that we can envision and understand the community as it lived."

Eugene V. Gallagher Rosemary Park Professor of Religious Studies

"Rebecca Moore provides the fullest account we have of the career of Peoples Temple. In a sympathetic but critical manner, she charts its beginnings in Indianapolis, its transformations in California, the tragic events at Jonestown in the Guyanese jungle, and the afterlives of Peoples Temple in American cultural memory. Drawing on scholarly and popular sources, interviews, archives, and a trove of materials released by the U. S. government in response to Freedom of Information Act requests, she tells a rich and detailed story that captures both the horror and humanity of Peoples Temple. This is the place to start for anyone interested in Peoples Temple, Jim Jones, or Jonestown."

Eugene V. GallagherRosemary Park Professor of Religious Studies

"Rebecca Moore provides the fullest account we have of the career of Peoples Temple. In a sympathetic but critical manner, she charts its beginnings in Indianapolis, its transformations in California, the tragic events at Jonestown in the Guyanese jungle, and the afterlives of Peoples Temple in American cultural memory. Drawing on scholarly and popular sources, interviews, archives, and a trove of materials released by the U. S. government in response to Freedom of Information Act requests, she tells a rich and detailed story that captures both the horror and humanity of Peoples Temple. This is the place to start for anyone interested in Peoples Temple, Jim Jones, or Jonestown."

Laura Johnston Kohl Jonestown and Peoples Temple survivor

"As one of a few survivors, I continue to learn details and facts that were hidden from me. I learned many new details when I read the book. An ever-growing group is collaborating to put the pieces together in a mosaic that will bring together the truest picture we can make. Rebecca's book will be one of the cornerstones used to build an understanding of the facts, not the media blitz, and not a simplistic view of the horror of the ending. Those who lost their lives in Guyana and those whose lives were decimated here in the United States deserve more than that, and Rebecca articulately puts the facts together to so that we can envision and understand the community as it lived."

Tanya HolliSArchivist/Manuscripts Librarian

"Rebecca Moore's thoughtful, balanced book makes a significant contribution to recent scholarship aimed at redressing the sensationalism of many previous accounts of Peoples Temple and Jonestown. This book deepens our understanding of the tragedy of Jonestown by refusing to reduce the story to that single ending. This eye to human complexity also guides the book into the present, examining the lives of survivors, the state of current research and scholarship, and the figure of Peoples Temple as it appears in contemporary artistic and cultural work. Moore also provides the reader with enough resources to open a multitude of avenues to further research. Accessible to the student historian, her perspective prompts wide-ranging and important questions on our contemporary practices and ways of thinking about religion, community, and memory."

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Understanding Jonestown and Peoples Temple 2.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Sisophous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book and have already read several other books on The Peoples Temple, including the most comprehensive book, RAVEN, also SEDUCTIVE POISON, A THOUSAND LIVES and DEAR PEOPLE:REMEMBERING JONESTOWN. The author, Rebecca Moore gives the most up to date account of Jonestown (2009) with many references for further readings while the other books are very dated. One thing to note, the title of this book has the words "understanding Jonestown" but it could have instead been titled, "An Empathetic account of The Peoples Temple". Rebecca Moore at times tries to justify why this ended in tragedy. She takes backhanded stabs at White People, The Media, authors of other books, Capitalism, Racism, the US government, various government agencies and yet gives everyone in Jonestown a pass. They did this because others are too blame..... On page 101, Rebecca Moore wrote, "They perished rather than abandon their commitment. For them the choice was clear: they chose death over betrayal, and loyalty over survival". Too bad Rebecca Moore fails to mention, that 304 children were murdered, they did not commit suicide. I suppose murder is justified if you are Rebecca Moore. If you can tolerate many of her social justice excuses, it is still a worthwhile book to read. Note, other than the cover, there are no photos inside this book.
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