RAVEN: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People by Tim with John Jacobs Reiterman

RAVEN: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Much of this, the longest, fullest account of the Jonestown disaster to date, is previously untold--but that's not enough to redeem its rambling structure and wooden prose. Reiterman is a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner and covered the Peoples Temple story even before most of the operation moved to Guyana. He accompanied Rep. Leo Ryan on the fatal inspection tour that led to the White Night on November 18, 1978, and he was wounded by Jonestown assassins in the attack on the Port Kaituma airstrip where Ryan and four others perished. So Reiterman (aided by fellow-reporter Jacobs, who did a lot of legwork in Guyana and elsewhere) has both his own eye-witness experiences and a large amount of new information to offer. He gives us a detailed picture of Jim Jones' early career, documenting Jones' propensity to bully and scare his friends, as well as his love of grisly jokes (forcing a subordinate in an Indiana hospital to burn a gangrenous human leg in the incinerator). Reiterman tells more than we knew before about Jones' habit of sodomizing PT members--including, significantly, Dr. Larry Schact, who presided over Jonestown's vat of cyanide and Kool-Aid--to humiliate them and keep them in line. We now learn the horrendous details of how Jones' fanatical loyalist, Sharon Amos, slit the throats of two of her children and then cut her own with the help of a third, when given the radio command to die from Jonestown. But these and other tidbits from the sickening feast are simply dumped on the table in front of the hapless reader. Reiterman's massive chronicle is, in its own way, invaluable, but only for those with a compelling interest in the life and times of the Rev. Jim Jones. All others would be better advised to try Shiva Naipaul's Journey to Nowhere or In My Brother's House, by Min S. Yee and Thomas N. Layton.

Pub Date: Oct. 29th, 1982
Publisher: Dutton