Until September 11, 2001, the Jonestown massacre was the single most deadly non-natural disaster in American history. It was also the first time that an American congressman was killed in the line of duty. Being the step-son of a Pentecostal preacher and a child of mixed race, I felt a resonance with the Jonestown story from day one.
My initial research started out simply as a fact-finding pursuit in order to understand and justify the tragedy in my own mind. However, within just the first trimester of my research I discovered that beneath the façade of the “official version” lies the possibility of something far more sinister than a mass suicide, something that, if true, could explain and be linked to many tragedies throughout history.
There is a shortage of material on the possibility of Jonestown actually being a CIA mind control experiment. For the longest time, the only two voices to speak to this possibility were John Judge and Jim Hougan. I also learned early on that there had not been one book that incorporated the story from beginning to end, which included a thorough analysis of the aftermath, or at least the aftermath as I saw it.
Ambitiously, I decided to fill that void and bring the entire story to the younger generation from my perspective. Reflecting on the entire process – which took approximately seven years – I realized how it affected me in ways I did not expect. In the beginning I felt as though I had lived in Jonestown through the tragedy. Night after night, as I slept, I could hear the screams of those dying from the poison in Jonestown. But after a while, after finding sources such as Dave Wise, Tom Whittle, and Dr. Leslie Mootoo, the affect turned to something far more different than reliving their suffering. I began to be driven by anger over the belief that I, along with everyone else, had been lied to all these years.
In the end, I am not sure I got exactly what I wanted, when it comes to closure on the matter. There is no smoking gun in this case. Nonetheless, what this examination taught me is that extreme, uncritical enthusiasm or zeal for anything is a very dangerous concept. This notion breeds frenzied, rabid, and radical behavior that most often causes people to act reprehensibly in the name of honor, justice and religion. This concept is the underlying theme and is tied not only to the blind faith that the members had for Jim Jones, but also in the faith that people have in the “official version” of the story, in the media, in politicians, and in their government.
My research has culminated with the publication of Jonestown: Don’t Drink the Kool Aid, which is available in paperback form, as an e-book, and as an audio book. The audio book is produced and narrated by Mark Moseley, a well-known voice-over actor who had the starring role as Mushu in Disney’s Mulan 2.
(Will Savive is a regular contributor to this website. His previous articles are here. He can be reached at email@example.com and http://willsavive.blogspot.com/.
(A review of this book written for the jtr bulletin is Savive Book a Compelling and Controversial Read, by Mark Gallaga. An additional description of the book appears here.)