Rating: 5 stars
Shelf: Now Reading
Raven is the story of Jim Jones and the People’s Temple – told by Tim Reiterman, a journalist who survived the massacre of the Ryan party in Guyana just hours before more than 900 People’s Temple members committed “revolutionary” suicide with poisoned Grape-Aid. Reiterman begins at the beginning – the birth and early life of Jim Jones and moves carefully forward, in almost 600 pages, to chronicle the rise and fall of a people who put their lives in the hands of a sociopath.
Reiterman does a fantastic job of detailing both the positive and negative aspects of the People’s Temple. It’s altogether too easy to dismiss what happened, to think of the followers as crazy, to believe you could never get caught up in something similar. But the social and political climate of the time helped to foster the rapid growth of a belief system that preached equality for all. And the people, many of whom Reiterman gives detailed accounts, were downtrodden minorities or reformed drug addicts or people disillusioned by their own religions, people who didn’t belong – People’s Temple, in its beginnings, gave them all something to be a part of. By the time things took a turn for the worst, it was too late.
It took me well over a year to finish this book. The emotional and mental toll it took on me was, at times, too much to bear. There were times I had to put it down. Had to think happier thoughts. But, I’m so glad I read this. It is a superbly written account of ALL aspects of the People’s Temple and the tragedy that occurred in Jonestown.