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Stories from Jonestown Hardcover – February 1, 2013
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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Jim Jones group began as a Christian church in Indiana. He moved to San Francisco in the 1960s. While the group began as a integrated group who wanted to help the community, it soon changed into a much less altruistic socialist experiment. But this book is not about Jim Jones. It is about the survivors. Some of them still think the Peoples Temple was wonderful, others wonder at their blindness to the warning signs that there were problems and Jones was no longer the man or leader they thought they were following.
There are already numerous accounts written about Jim Jones and The Peoples Temple murder/suicide. In Stories from Jonestown, author Fondakowski focus is on interviewing the survivors. She points out that only they "can truly know what it means to survive a tragedy of this magnitude. These are the stories of the survivors. It is a privilege to tell them." Fondakowski, a playwright, spent over three years interviewing survivors, reviewing documents, and collecting letters trying to compose a complete picture of what happened while gathering material in order to write a play about their experiences. The book is a compilation of the many interviews and stories she collected.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good cautionary tale about the delusional dream of a socialist utopia; of attempts to create heaven on earth. Recommended.Published 5 months ago by J. Thomson
I remember Jonestown happening and seeing all the news reports about it. In fact, it might have been that coverage that lead me into the career in journalism. Read morePublished 9 months ago by S. Smith
I have been fascinated with cults since a kid. jonestown has to be one of my fav. I love learning new info on there story.Published 21 months ago by Lisa Muslin
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... Read morePublished on November 17, 2013 by DONKEY
Deeply affecting to be able to put faces and stories next to the names of the victims of this unspeakable tragedy. Read morePublished on November 16, 2013 by LeaJacqueline23
More apologists history of Jonestown. If looking for one book to learn about Jones and his followers, read "Raven. Read morePublished on September 10, 2013 by Amazon Customer
Presumably like millions of others, I thought I knew all I needed or wanted to know about the Peoples Temple, Jim Jones, and Jonestown. Read morePublished on July 31, 2013 by Richard M. Mahler
Multi-layered account of Jonestown. Amazing courage of first hand accounts by survivors and members who lost loved ones. Read morePublished on June 27, 2013 by Mary Ann Gubanc