Sneak Preview: “Nobody joins a cult”
The deaths of more than 900 people in Jonestown, Guyana, in 1978 have been addressed before in this venue (See “November 18, 1978: The Horror of Jonestown,” posted Nov. 15, 2012). Shortly thereafter, I received from the University of Minnesota Press an advanced reading copy (ARC) of Stories from Jonestown, a book which – after reading it – I believe will become the capstone for the literature on this topic.
Why? This book is a collection of interviews with the actual survivors and other participants. This is important because most people, when they hear of Jonestown, or the Branch-Davidians, or any of the various headline-grabbing “cults” adopt a myopic view. These people are all “wackos,” “religious nuts,” people who are so far from the mainstream of humanity as not to deserve consideration. Stories from Jonestown reveals the true picture of this tragedy, one for which those who entered into the bargain with the devil have to claim some responsibility but one in which most of the members were decent, intelligent human beings who just wanted to create a better world.