Stories from Jonestown

Leigh Fondakowsk. Univ. of Minnesota, $27.95 (312p) ISBN 978-0-8166-7808-2
On November 18, 1978, 918 people, including U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan, died in Jonestown, Guyana, most of them members of the Peoples Temple who drank poisoned punch at the urging of their charismatic leader, Jim Jones. In this approach to the tragic and unsettling subject, Fondakowski, a playwright and former head writer for The Laramie Project, focuses not on Jones but on members of the Peoples Temple who were away from the compound and survived. Culled from hundreds of hours of interviews gathered for her play The People’s Temple, Fondakowski spoke both to people who have devoted their lives to trying to understand the tragedy and those who have kept their past connections with Jonestown a secret. She encounters wildly different views of life at Jonestown: for some, it was paradise. For others, it was hell in the jungle. Most wrenching are the reminiscences of those like Nell Smart, who struggles with the thought of her mother giving Nell’s four children the poisoned Flavor-Aid (not Kool-Aid, as is commonly believed). Fondakowski explores the beginnings of the Peoples Temple in Ukiah, Calif., and how it expanded—through cross-country bus trips—until Jones took his followers to Guyana in 1977. Fondakowski perfectly captures the rapturous hope surrounding Jonestown, which makes its demise all the more heartbreaking. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/09/2012
Release date: 02/01/2013
Show other formats
Hardcover - 377 pages - 978-0-8166-8173-0
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-94344-5
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.