Understanding Jonestown and Peoples Temple
This volume provides an objective overview of the religious group Peoples Temple, which saw its violent end at Jonestown, Guyana, in 1978.
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This in-depth investigation of Peoples Temple and its tragic end at Jonestown corrects sensationalized misunderstandings of the group and places its individual members within the broader context of religion in America.
Most people understand Peoples Temple through its violent disbanding following events in Jonestown, Guyana, where more than 900 Americans committed murder and suicide in a jungle commune. Media coverage of the event sensationalized the group and obscured the background of those who died. The view that emerged thirty years ago continues to dominate understanding of Jonestown today, despite the dozens of books, articles, and documentaries that have appeared.
This book provides a fresh perspective on Peoples Temple, locating the group within the context of religion in America and offering a contemporary history that corrects the inaccuracies often associated with the group and its demise. Although Peoples Temple had some of the characteristics many associate with cults, it also shared many characteristics of black religion in America. Moreover, it is crucial to understand how the organization fits into the social and political movements of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s: race, class, colonialism, gender, and other issues dominated the times and so dominated the consciousness of the members of Peoples Temple. Here, Rebecca Moore, who lost three family members in the events in Guyana, offers a framework for U.S. social, cultural, and political history that helps readers to better understand Peoples Temple and its members.
- Demonstrates meticulous research by the author, a scholar who has a personal connection to the subject
- Provides a comprehensive and balanced view of the entire history of Peoples Temple, with insight from families and the members themselves
- Includes a new preface that updates our understanding of events on the 40th anniversary of Jonestown
- Shows how Peoples Temple fits into the broader history of black religion in America
- Author Info
"No one understands better, or explains more completely, the complexities of Jonestown and Peoples Temple than Rebecca Moore. This book is one reason why I consider her to be the best source and author on these subjects."
"Rebecca Moore's study is a comprehensive and accessible treatment based on forty years of research and reflection on the dynamics that caused the tragic deaths in Jonestown on November 18, 1978 and the event's impact on American culture. Drawing on an array of primary sources, Moore provides an astute and honest account of Peoples Temple and Jonestown, while simultaneously depicting the humanity of the individual members. This book will inform specialists, students, and general readers. I highly recommend it."
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