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120 of 129 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Raven: The Untold Story of Jim Jones and Peoples Temple
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...
Published on September 5, 2000 by Dixielee Tripp

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41 of 55 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great book, Kindle edition not so hot
This book is amazing. It's well-written, thorough, and has buckets of citations to support what it claims. Great. I give the content five stars.

Unfortunately, the Kindle edition is lousy. The chapter advance feature doesn't work. Neither does the index, which is just a long list of items in the book with no links and no location numbers. So you can page...
Published on October 31, 2010 by Val


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120 of 129 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Raven: The Untold Story of Jim Jones and Peoples Temple, September 5, 2000
By 
Dixielee Tripp (Pocatello, Idaho United States) - See all my reviews
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.
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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional Read, December 8, 2005
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"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.

Bravo, Mr Rieterman.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well told story of a sick, paranoid, and delusional man, November 7, 2007
By 
J. Wilson (Warrenton, VA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Diary of a Madman, November 29, 2009
This review is from: Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People (Paperback)
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. They come across as human beings who, in search of a better life for themselves, followed a man they trusted into the green hell of the jungles. And through Jones' systemic terror and ham-handed - but effective - "brainwashing" techniques, they became shadows of what they were, but in far too many instances hardly the "brainless zombies" described in mass media. Reiterman's humanization of these lost souls so easily dismissed as zany, addled fools is a work of redemptive power. Plain and simple, they were victims undeserving of their horrid and outre endings, an ending Reiterman almost shared.

This is not a lurid, red-covered "true crime" penny dreadful, but a serious work of investigative journalism. It is likely the closest we will ever come to comprehending the "why" of Jonestown, assuming for a moment that such a thing is even possible.

Recommended, but on the understanding that this work is distressing and profoundly sad. Not for the faint of heart.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only This, and Nothing More, November 27, 2008
This review is from: Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People (Paperback)
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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could not stop reading, April 22, 2012
This review is from: Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People (Paperback)
This book is incredible. The story is tells is absolutely true, but occasionally unbelievable. I did, once or twice, feel like I had to stop reading because I was mentally out-of-breath from the breakneck pace, once things started to fall apart for the Peoples Temple.

The writers absolutely did their work. Everything is meticulously researched, each step outlined for you from Jones' childhood disturbances (his attempts to coerce or threaten childhood friends) into the derangement that marked his last few months of life.

This book is horrifying, in the absolute best way. I won't say it reads like fiction, because that would be to lessen the quality of the writing. It does not read like fiction, but the facts and story it is telling mean it's hard to look away, even as it is profoundly disturbing and you wish you could.

I read this book in a week. I read it when I had downtime at work, I read it at home in the evenings, I read it on my days off. I read like I was racing myself to the end, and there were definitely times, especially in the last half of the book, where I would read a paragraph and then have to step away - make dinner, make a drink, just exist away from that book for a while. Reiterman, et al do a fantastic job of showing you exactly how many good people doing nothing it takes to let a maniac murder 900 people.

They also do a wonderful job of getting inside the heads of the -followers- of the Peoples Temple - you see exactly how intelligent, educated young and old people found themselves swept up in this, how so many of them became such true believers. And it lays bare the myths that persist on pop culture.

Absolutely incredible book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chilling and meticulously researched account, September 8, 2014
By 
Rowena (Brighton,Ma USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People (Paperback)
This is undoubtedly the seminal account of the Jonestown disaster, written by reporter Tim Reiterman, who survived the air strip shooting which preceded the mass suicide. The level of detail provided as to the inner workings of the People's Temple and the backgrounds and personalities of the folks who comprised Jones' inner circle is truly extraordinary. I am truly impressed with the amount of time and effort that clearly went into researching this book.

As for criticisms, I only have only one. The author does not discuss, except in passing, the overall political and religious climate on the 60s and 70s that would help an organization like the People's Temple flourish. That was certainly unnecessary for early readers of this book, who would have lived through such events. But I was born after this time and am reading the book decades later, and one of the things I had expected was for the book to explain why and how radical religious, social, and political groups operated and flourished in a general sense during that time period, and how this made it easier for a man like Jones to create the movement he did.

This book is very compassionate towards almost anyone aside from Jones, I feel too much so. Certainly his inner circle, both those who defected (like Tim Stoen) and those who stayed (like Jones' wife), bear a large part of the responsibility for what happened. They were completely aware of the deceptions, trickery, and abuse used by Jones to build and consolidate his power, and yet they still helped him do so with no more than occasional weak protestations against the worst instances of abuse. While it is true that Stoen turned against him very publicly later in life, which may redeem him in part, I still don't think it excuses the years he spent helping Jones deceive and abuse others. It isn't clear to me why Stoen was never prosecuted nor lost his law license.

I highly recommend this book for anyone with an interest in religious/political cults in general, or Jonestown specifically. But don't read this book expecting to get a sense of closure and true understanding. After reading detailed accounts of Jones' writings, tactics, and speeches, even in the early years, he never comes across as anything but a bitter, deranged lunatic to me. He is not erudite, he talks in a very unintelligent and crude manner. Even after 600+ pages, I still am left wondering, how did so many people give themselves over to such a pathetic, repugnant man?
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41 of 55 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great book, Kindle edition not so hot, October 31, 2010
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This book is amazing. It's well-written, thorough, and has buckets of citations to support what it claims. Great. I give the content five stars.

Unfortunately, the Kindle edition is lousy. The chapter advance feature doesn't work. Neither does the index, which is just a long list of items in the book with no links and no location numbers. So you can page through the index but you can't get to anything. This means that navigating through the book is kind of a pain.

Publishers charge a lot for Kindle books, and they ought to at least have someone check them to make sure that they work properly.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book About Jonestown, Jim Jones, and the People's Temple!, November 14, 2008
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This review is from: Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People (Paperback)
On November 18, 1978, over 900 souls were robbed from their lives in the jungle of Jonestown, Guyana. Thirty years later, we are still fascinated by the event. This book is the most comprehensive, complex, and complete in allowing us to understand Jim Jones' sick mind and how he began his journey into notorious infamy as a cult leader. Jim Jones was tyrannical and wouldn't stop at nothing to get his way. The author is a survivor of the shooting at the airstrip in Port Kaituma near Jonestown along with the victims of Congressman Leo Ryan who died, Patty Parks (a defector and long-time member), NBC reporters Don Harris, Robert Brown, and the photographer for the San Francisco Examiner, Greg Robinson. All senseless deaths, there were the injured including the author. As he writes in his preface, he didn't want to write a book about Jonestown unless he understood it. It would take him years as it does many of us to understand the tragedy, the horrors, and the holocaust that occurred on November 18, 1978. I assure you if you are interested in studying about Jonestown, Jim Jones, and the People's Temple. This is the book for you.
You have to realize that it's about 600 pages of solid information so you will need to time to digest the information slowly and recommend taking breaks. It's too much information to take at once.
I have covered my book with paper because I can't stand looking at Jim Jones neither but I think the book is quite fascinating especially 30 years later after the events.
There is just so much information to disclose about the life and the losses. The tragic losses of over 900 people still appears to go unnoticed with a few documentaries lately. For some reason, the misconception is that 900 crazy fanatics went to their deaths willingly. That couldn't be further from the truth. They were intimidated and paranoid. They had armed gunmen to watch over them. They were under constant surveillance by Jones and his accomplices. Oh what if it never happened! I only wished that it never did but we must remember and learn from it. A third of the victims were children and third were elderly seniors and the other third were the parents of those children and relatives. People like Fred Lewis lost 27 of this relatives on November 18, 1978 and so many others did too. Maybe the American and Guyanese governments didn't do enough to stop Jones from killing 900 people including his wife, his own children, his mistresses, and the 900 of his followers who believed they had come to the promised land only to be killed. Let's not forget Jonestown! Let's not forget the people who perished there!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Rounded Book, May 15, 2010
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This review is from: Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People (Paperback)
About a year and a half ago, I watched a documentary on different cults, both past and more recent. The one that stuck out to me most was Jim Jones and the Peoples' Temple. The half hour or so they had dedicated to this for the documentary wasn't enough for me and I wanted to know more. I wanted to understand the whys and the hows. While roaming through a bookstore one day, I found this book staring me in the face and it was perfect! At the time I didn't buy it, and when I went back to that store I couldn't find it. I knew you can find so much at Amazon.com and so this is where I chose to buy it rather than look through a bunch of bookstores. I felt that the author took incredible pains to bring this story to his readers and it felt very well-rounded to me. It was the kind of story that is so crazy it had to be true. Excellent book and it would have to go on my top books list, alongside And the Band Played On...
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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 (Paperback - November 13, 2008)
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