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Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2015's Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
“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
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About 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 PBSs American Experience. Reiterman writes for the Los Angeles Times. His collaborator John Jacobs was a widely respected journalist who died in 2000.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I first read Raven in 1988 as one of the resources for my Master's Thesis in Speech Communication. I was focusing on the rhetoric of survivors in an unspeakable event. This year, after reading Barbara Olson's Hell to Pay, I needed to reference Raven again because of a connection. So many times since I finished my thesis I had needed to reference it and gaining access was alway problematic. I therefore asked Amazon to find a copy and they were able to accommodate me. The one thing about Raven and the story of Jim Jones is that, once you have been so deeply involved in the story, it is impossible to let it go. Events continue to occur which force you back to the original. Events such as the Waco incident. Raven is an excellent resource for people trying to understand how one man can hold sway over so many people and lead them to such an unbelievable disaster. Watching as Jones molds and manipulates his congregants is a fascinating experience. Seeing people so willing to forsake home and family for a little security is a startling realization. But it explains a great deal about how easily people will give over their lives to such a leader in order not to have to manage their own affairs. Reiterman and Jacobs give us a wonderful essay on the inner workings and the secrets which allowed Peoples Temple to flourish. The detail of their investigations into the cleverness and deceit of Jones is extraordinary. This book is, in my estimation the primary read for anyone trying to understand the times and events which allowed Peoples Temple to become a lure for so many people. A warning is in order. Once you read Raven, you will never be able to let go of the story. But if you learn one thing from it, it should be that there are deceivers in the world who, if allowed, will take your home, your money and your life.
"Raven" is, without a doubt, the seminal work on Jim Jones and Jonestown. Written by Tim Reiterman, who was injured during the massacre that killed Sen Ryan, this book is researched, factual, and fair. Anyone wanting to understand the workings of Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple need only to pick up a copy of this book.
One warning. It is approximately 600 pages, and impossible to put down once you pick it up. So make sure to clear your calendar for a few days before starting it. Once read, this book will remain with you for a lifetime.
I don't have the words to express all that I'd like to about this work, but can hopefully convey what a superb job Reiterman did in his research and writing. It goes in depth on who Jim Jones was and how he was able to target, manipulate and swindle so many people. I was caught up in the story immediately and it just kept getting better, even though I knew the outcome. How sad that he was able to isolate and imprison his followers out of the reach of the law and rational people who might have eventually saved those poor souls who wanted to leave his "church". This tragic story is extremely well told. I highly, highly recommend this book.
Reporter Tim Reiterman was one of the people who managed to survive the Poart Kaituma shootings that claimed the life of Congressman Leo Ryan and so many others. It is perhaps understandable why he wished to write about the man who connived at his murder in his own search for "understanding" Jim Jones and his People's Temple Agricultural Project, the location of what would come to be called "The Jonestown Massacre."
Reiterman barely knew Jones, only introduced to him the one time the day prior to the dreadful slaughter. So, everything he writes about Jones is second-hand information, but second hand information expertly corroborated by the extensive "paper trail" the People's Temple left behind in the many years of its existence from California to the middle of "God's Own Nowhere" in western Guyana. Further, with Jones' death, still something of a mystery after all of these years, former members of the People's Temple and the handful of Jonestown survivors, including Jim Jones' own son, talked. And while there is no universal agreement on minor details as will always be the case with such events, the broad outlines of the story are firmly grounded by Reiterman's completely professional and praiseworthy detached fact and cross-checking. Had I been in Reiterman's shoes, I am not sure I could have achieved the calm dispassion that makes "Raven" such a credible analysis. And the picture that emerges in the six-hundred terrifying pages of this book is a story of sociopathic, narcissistic madness ensnaring not only Jones but the poor people he resolved to take with him on his macabre odyssey, his "death trip."
But, Reiterman's dispassionate reporting does not obscure in the slightest the men, women, and children of the PTAP.Read more ›
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Journalist Tim Reiterman lived in the nightmare of the final days of the Peoples Temple in Jonestown, Guyana, and was lucky not to be murdered in November 1978 on a small airstrip by the security guards of the Rev. Jim Jones.
Reiterman was one of the reporters to travel in the delegation led by U.S. Rep. Leo Ryan due to concerns expressed by family members that their loved ones were being held against their will in Jonestown. In the ambush that occurred as the delegation was preparing to leave, Ryan and several others were killed, while some - including Reiterman - were wounded and essentially left to die. The culmination of the attack spurred the Rev. Jones in facilitating a mass murder/suicide by cyanide poisoning of more than 900 followers, with Jones dying of a gunshot wound to the head.
In this definitive account of the Rev. Jones and the People Temple, Reiterman utilizes exhaustive research and interviews to provide an understanding of the leader who had humble beginnings in Crete, Indiana, and his early work on integration issues and the founding of his own church. But through his good works, something terrible was building up inside the Rev. Jones.
Reiterman became involved in the Peoples Temple story as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He covered the mysterious local death of a member, which drew public protests by church members. The deceased had been a student of Rep. Ryan's when he taught high school, which then drew his interest into the operations of the church and led to his traveling to Guyana on the fact-finding mission.
The story is as disturbing now as it was 30 years ago and this powerful and moving account tells the tale that ended in "revolutionary suicide" (murder) of children, women and men who were looking for peace and found a nightmare of madness.
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