Transcripts, Commentary on “Death Tape” on Website

A number of transcripts of the so-called “death tape” — the audiotape of the moments leading up to and during the mass deaths in Jonestown — have been added to the “Alternative Considerations of Jonestown” website. They include complete transcripts by:

Mary Maaga, who included the transcript as an appendix to her book, Hearing the Voices of Jonestown;

The FBI, which transcribed this tape alone from the 971 tapes it recovered from Jonestown; and

The editors of the jonestown report.

As with any audiotape — and especially one with as much background activity as occurs on the death tape — the transcribers heard different things. Nevertheless, the variations among these three are relatively minor.

In addition, the website includes partial transcripts of the tape which appeared in Mark Lane’s book, The Strongest Poison; as an appendix in Jonathan Z. Smith’s book, Imagining Religion: From Babylon to Jonestown; and as an appendix in Steve Rose’s book, Jesus and Jim Jones: Behind Jonestown. None of these three claim to be complete, although they are all substantive.

The website also includes a commentary on the authenticity of the death tape, addressing questions raised about the tape’s many edits and pauses, as well as Jim Jones’ repeated references to U.S. Embassy official Richard Dwyer. The transcripts and commentaries may be found here.