Favorite 2017 Reads: No. 6

The 1970s were my formative years as a little news junkie, so all the weird, creepy events of that decade have a certain hold over my imagination. In 2016, I couldn’t wait to read Jeffrey Toobin’s book about the Patty Hearst kidnapping, American Heiress.

This was the year I dug back into Jonestown and the People’s Temple with Jeff Guinn’s The Road to Jonestown.

Guinn can’t quite explain why Jim Jones turned the way he did. Who can? But he offers a nuanced and sympathetic view of the victims of Jonestown. That’s how Guinn views them: victims. He makes a good case that the followers of the People’s Temple should be pitied, not ridiculed.

The fact that “drink the Kool-Aid” has become slang for being a true believer, Guinn argues, is a cruel dismissal of the more than 900 people who died in the jungle in Guyana.

This is a fascinating take on one of the stranger incidents of the 1970s. Now if I could just find the definite book on the Chowchilla kidnapping…

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