I received an ARC from Netgalley and the publisher for an honest opinion.
My first brush with Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple was through a movie called The Sacrament, which is basically a fictional (and semi-paranormal) retelling of it. Tons of the reviews for it talked about Jim Jones so I researched on the internet and read up on the actual Peoples Temple. Their fate and the suicide and Jones’ corruption. So, I had a rudimentary idea of things going into this book, but I was completely off base with how I thought this book would be.
As the title suggests, and I was too dense to pick up, it’s all about how they got to Jonestown. So if you want a bit of juicy gossip about the suicides and last moments, this isn’t the book for you. One chapter is dedicated to that. The third to last chapter. The last two chapters are about the immediate aftermath and the long-term aftermath.
You might be thinking, then what the hell is this book all about? Well, it’s about Jim himself. The first chapters talk about his upbringing and immediate family, then his family. You also learn about his wife, Marceline, and various things about their lives. I mean, you go through everything. From the beginning of his life to becoming a priest and into the Peoples Temple. There’s everything that you wanted to know and more.
For me, that was a bit dull. It’s very repetitive and Guinn handles it in a very balanced way. While I appreciate that since I know he’s just telling me the information, not trying to twist my emotions. He really just wanted to show every aspect. The good that Jones did and the bad. Perhaps that he had good intentions then got twisted, or that he had bad intentions the whole time. Guinn leaves it up for the reader to decide.
What you learn is about Jones himself. His life. How he got to that point in his life. What happened in the past years and months that led to the mass suicide. It was good, but perhaps not what I really wanted. This definitely gave me a great basis for how Jonestown happened, which was exactly Guinn’s point for this book.