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Stories from Jonestown Hardcover


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Frequently Bought Together

Stories from Jonestown + Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People + Seductive Poison: A Jonestown Survivor's Story of Life and Death in the People's Temple
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press (February 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816678081
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816678082
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #382,281 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Leigh Fondakowski was the head writer of The Laramie Project and has been a member of the Tectonic Theatre Project since 1995. She is an Emmy-nominated coscreenwriter for the adaptation of The Laramie Project for HBO, and a cowriter of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. Her play, The People’s Temple, created from the survivors’ interviews, has been performed under her direction at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, American Theatre Company, and the Guthrie Theatre.


More About the Author

Leigh Fondakowski was the head writer of The Laramie Project and has been a member of the Tectonic Theater Project since 1995. She is an Emmy-nominated coscreenwriter for the adaptation of The Laramie Project for HBO and a cowriter of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. Her play The People's Temple, created from survivors' interviews, has been performed under her direction at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, American Theater Company, and the Guthrie Theater.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Once I started reading this book, I could not stop until I reached the end.
Richard M. Mahler
There is no better way to understand Peoples Temple - or our tangled feelings about Jonestown - than by reading her book.
Laurak
She had started basically from scratch to understand Jonestown and what really happened.
Sylviastel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Laurak on February 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a Jonestown survivor. I met Leigh, Gregg, and Margo in 2002 when they visited me at my home in San Diego. My interview was wonderful. I felt free to discuss my deepest pain and my own truth. A few years later, I was able to see how Leigh had pulled together all the survivors' stories, and put them in her play "THE PEOPLES TEMPLE." She was very exacting and astute in picking up the message I wanted to share. Other survivors felt the same way. Her play was shown in Berkeley, and several other venues.

Last year, I heard that she had revisited our initial interviews and that she was creating a book. I was excited because I had already been impressed with her depth of understanding. I pre-ordered the book and received it this week. I have not been able to put the book down. I am so grateful that she created her book, mostly with exact quotes from the survivors. There is no better way to understand Peoples Temple - or our tangled feelings about Jonestown - than by reading her book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Sylviastel VINE VOICE on January 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read every available published book on Jonestown, the Peoples Temple, and Rev. Jim Jones. I found Leigh's book to be refreshing for a change. She had started basically from scratch to understand Jonestown and what really happened. She had put a human face on the people who comprised the Peoples Temple. She had sought to understand what motivated many of them. I admire and respect the author's ability to understand what really happened in November 1978.

On November 18, 1978, I was a five year old in New Jersey. On that day, 918 lives were lost in Jonestown, Guyana. The media had created a myth about Rev. Jim Jones and his people. Of course, it was a massacre and it wasn't suicide. People didn't willingly die but were pressured and forced to drink the cyanide. Everybody in the top hierarchy of Jim Jones had a careful plan to execute the unthinkable of murder-suicide.

Leigh and her team planned to develop a creative play in displaying the Peoples Temple to the public. Leigh would meet, interview, study, and examine the world of the Peoples Temple. She had survivors like Stephan Jones, Jim and Marceline's only natural son and Tim Carter. In reading their accounts, I began to understand why they are resistant to writing their own stories about Jonestown and the Peoples Temple. Stephan and Tim have a lot of guilt on their shoulders about what happened like a life sentence since 1978.

If you want to know about Jonestown, this book adds a level of humanity, compassion, and understanding to those who died and those who lived and remember a time and place long ago. The Peoples Temple provided more than just religious services. If you were poor, homeless, unemployed, hungry, and thirsty, you were fed, given a job, fed, and cared for.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. G. Hughes on January 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover
If, like me, you grew up in the 70s - or have ever used the term 'drank the Kool-Aid' - you are aware of what happened at Jonestown in Guyana on November 17-18, 1978.

Congressman Leo J. Ryan (D-CA) was on a fact-finding tour, investigating claims that Peoples Temple members were being held against their will. When, on the 17th, several people asked him to help them escape, orders were given to stop the exodus.

On the afternoon of the 18th, as the congressman, his entourage, and several Peoples Temple members were boarding two planes, gunfire erupted at the airstrip. Ryan, three newsmen, and a defector were killed; several more were wounded, some severely.

By the end of the day, 914 people of all races, creeds, and ages lay dead. Some died voluntarily, by their own hand; some with a little ... assistance. And it wasn't only poison that took many of those lives.

But, that is not all there is to know.

More than a thousand people belonged to the Peoples Temple. On the day of the murder/suicide, some were in Georgetown on Temple business. Some had never left California. They are all survivors.

These are their stories.

~*~*~

The book starts with a brief history of Jonestown and of this project. It explains what is known of the time, of the origins of the Peoples Temple, and how Leigh Fondakowski came to be involved in 3-1/2 years of interviewing survivors.

A brief caveat: I received an uncorrected ebook for review. It is, therefore, entirely possible that the final, published product may vary from this version. With that said, this is an incredible book.

As I mentioned, I grew up around this story. I remember the news reports of the shooting at the airstrip.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By DONKEY on November 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Before reading, I suggest you take into account the authors background and intentions. She is approaching the subject from the field of drama and the arts, with the intention of producing a play. A field that frequently embellishes, adds fiction and modifies truth for the purposes of dramatic effect. So her opinions and what she adds to the story of Jonestown are, to me, completely without merit. Yet among the many cons, there is one major pro which I think is important enough to justify the book as a whole.

The Pro:

The first person accounts from family, associates and members, some of whom have never, or rarely, been heard from.

The Cons:

-The author is obviously unobjective in her own writing and right off the bat there are a few details that seem wrong. The "vote by proxy" comment during the Ryan visit for example. Reiterman writes that it was Jim Jones himself who made the comment yet in this book the author states it was Jack Beam. (Since Reiterman was an eyewitness, he gets the edge.) If this mundane fact is likely misstated, what else did the author fail to verify?

-Though there were a few good things going on at the Peoples Temples, the positive aspects seem grossly over-emphasized.

-Tim Carter. I don't object to his account being excluded, I think the reader should have been made aware of the despicable acts that he committed in the name of the church. In my opinion his interview should have taken place in a jail cell.

-Not really a con, but some of the member accounts should be taken with caution. Even 25 years after the fact, a few survivors still try to justify their own roles in what happened, and gloss over the negative. There seems to be some influence from Jim Jones beyond the grave.
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