9781476763828_13cfbIn the 1970s over 900 people died because they followed the religious figure turned cult leader, Jim Jones, to the jungles of Guyana where they, voluntarily or not, drank poison in a final act of devotion.

Jeff Guinn, known for his true crime bestsellers, investigates the history of Jones and his doomed followers in The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple (S&S; S&S Audio).

It has been covered by two high-profile outlets. Terry Gross interviews Guinn today on NPR’s Fresh Air and the Today show used the story last week to launch a “series examining some of the biggest crimes and cults of the 20th century.”

Guinn tells Gross that Jones was a “tremendous performer” who displayed “the classic tendencies of the demagogue … [he] would take current events and exaggerate them to create a sense of fear and urgency. He drew his followers to Guyana by convincing them that America was facing imminent threats of martial law, concentration camps and nuclear war … [he] epitomizes the worst that can happen when we let one person dictate what we hear [and] what we believe.”

The aftermath was so horrifying that the Guyanese army, coming to confront Jones, start screaming as they arrive on site, “because there are bodies everywhere, almost more than they can count, and they’re so horrified.”

Today details the event that triggered the final mass suicide, Jones’s order to open fire on a Congressman there to investigate, a trip filmed by NBC news in which three NBC staff were also murdered.

Newspapers such as The San Francisco Chronicle, the Star-Telegram (Texas), and The Dallas Morning News review it. USA Today names it one of their “New and noteworthy” titles. Salon headlines their coverage with “Jim Jones was who Charlie Manson wanted to be.” Men’s Journal names it one of “The 7 Best Books of April.” Vice offers an interview with Guinn.

Library holds are light at this point, but keep your eye on it.

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