JONESTOWN SURVIVOR BREAKS HER TWENTY-YEAR SILENCE, PROVIDING A DEEPLY PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE ON ONE OF THE MOST TRAGIC AND PUZZLING EVENTS OF THIS CENTURY; IN SNAKE DANCE: UNRAVELLING THE MYSTERIES OF JONESTOWN, AUTHOR AND WITNESS LAURIE EFREIN KAHALAS SETS THE RECORD STRAIGHT;
Twenty years ago, one of the most disturbing and bizarre events in our history unfolded in a remote jungle in Guyana. 900 people, including 250 children, drank cyanide laced Kool-Aid because a charismatic religious leader told them they were facing imminent danger and this was the only dignified way out. The world was shocked, horrified, and confused. Now, former People’s Temple Planning Commission member Laurie Efrein Kahalas courageously opens Pandora’s Box, in an effort to finally set the record straight.
In SNAKE DANCE: Unravelling the Mysteries of Jonestown (Trafford Publishing, Inc., November, 1998), Laurie chronicles with honesty, intelligence, and sensitivity, the story behind the headlines, revealing the human side of this mythic tragedy. She provides compelling documents, never before available to the public, that open up a whole new set of unanswered questions and justify a thorough and aggressive re-evaluation of the facts. Some of those questions include:
The author also reveals her own deeply personal insights about life in Peoples Temple, describing with moving candor such surprising details as:
"The Jonestown Tragedy happened in a remote, isolated jungle. It’s a mystery with pieces that have been missing to this day. Was it really so simple and clear-cut as the world was told? Or were there backdrops that were never brought to light? My commitment is to tell the truth as best I knew it, straight from the heart, and to let the world decide," states Laurie Efrein Kahalas.
A WISE MAN ONCE
With Jonestown, the world was given pat, unquestioned answers for a story too veiled and bizarre to comprehend. The real, probing questions have never been asked before now
Many of those questions appear below. If you want to explore the answers to these provocative questions, you can now purchase "SNAKE DANCE: Unravelling the Mysteries of Jonestown" at a special introductory price from Trafford Publishing at www.trafford.com.
What were the lessons the world never learned from Jonestown?
Did the efforts against Peoples Temple serve to defuse or to detonate a volatile mix? If the latter, was it misguided judgment, or might there have been more sinister factors in play?
What accounted for the wildly conflicting reports of Jonestown as "a paradise" and "a concentration camp"?
Did Jonestown have "hundreds of guns"?
What single event so panicked the people of Jonestown that they feared a death sentence was hanging over their heads? Was it true that by the time the Congressman arrived, they were desperately attempting to relocate the community to safety?
Did records survive of the military threats lodged against the community? What reasons did the community have to fear that the threats might be implemented?
Was the disputed paternity of a small child at Jonestown a ploy to drive an unstable leader over the edge, or were the plaintiffs agonized victims of a youngster used for blackmail?
Was Congressman Ryan recruited to "rescue" people from Jonestown, or was there reason to suspect that he may have been deliberately led into a death trap?
What was the surprising, unrevealed feature that Congressman Leo Ryan and Jim Jones had in common?
What was it in the eyewitness reports of journalists that suggests that it was a highly-trained team of professional assassins who killed the Congressman? Did the people of Jonestown have such a capacity?
When two key anti-Temple leaders announced in early 1980, that they would no longer speak against Peoples Temple, was a "coincidence" that they were found dead in their own home five days later?
What opponent made the chilling statement that he was "counting on Jim [Jones] to overreact" to the Congressional visit? Would it surprise you to learn that that same person was the self-appointed arbiter of "rescuing" children from Jonestown?
Did the people of Jonestown have sufficient knowledge of the dangers they faced? How might those dangers have been addressed without inciting panic or fright? Were the dangers both from without and from within?
Was Jim Jones’ assertion on the final tape that "Either we do it [take our own lives] or they do it," based in paranoid delusions, irrational fear, or pragmatic realities that never came to public notice? Was the decision to die rather than wait out the night dictated solely by Jim Jones, or may it have extended to conditions which were objective and real?
Were the people of Jonestown obsessively loyal to a fanatic, coerced into submission, or was their own will steeled to defend their pioneer community? Is it possible that all these elements could have co-existed within the whole?
How could a productive, peace-loving community ever consider violating the most fundamental taboo of all – the sanctity of the lives of its children?
Jim Jones was terminally ill. Had he died before the Congressman arrived, would the people of Jonestown chosen to stay or to return to the United States? What factors might have entered into their decision?
What were the secret sexual ties Jim Jones had with several of the people who claimed to hate him the most? Why was sex never brought up as an issue until after the tragedy had already happened?
Which one of Peoples Temple most notorious defectors was revealed as having run spy missions into East Berlin in the early sixties?
Did the rumor that Jim Jones was secretly running a malevolent C.I.A. experiment, have any basis in reality? Who might circulate such a rumor, and for what purpose?
Why were the American doctors who received the bodies from Jonestown upset that not a single test was run to confirm cyanide poisoning?
In the light of ABC 20/20’s film of the Congressman saying, "I hear many of you saying that this is the best thing that’s ever happened to you," what motive would the people of Jonestown have had for preventing his safe return to the United States?
Why did Jim Jones repeatedly deny any role whatsoever in the killing of the Congressman, on the final tape made at Jonestown? How can we know if that was true, and if it was, how might it alter the historical assessment of "a bizarre murder/suicide ritual"?
Why did a key opponent of Peoples Temple publicly announce that "It was considered that Jim Jones would became a major political force in the Caribbean within five years"? Where might such an assessment have originated?
What persuaded the Congressional investigating committee to accept "eyewitness identifications" of the Congressman’s assassins, from a man who freely admitted to the press that he never even had the shooters in his line of vision?
Peoples Temple had been unerringly non-violent for twenty-five years, yet it came to a violent end. How can we ensure that such a catastrophe never happens again?
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