Twenty years ago, on November 18, 1978 in Jonestown, a
commune in the depths of the Guyanese jungle, 913 followers of the Reverend Jim
Jones obeyed his orders to take their own lives, dutifully swallowing
fruit-flavored punch laced with cyanide. It was the worst mass suicide in
modern history. The Peoples Temple had started out years before as a
respectable church involved in community service and civil rights activism. Jim
Jones’ followers grew in number, and the organization gained prominence in the
San Francisco community, recognized by such high-profile figures as Mayor
George Moscone and First Lady Rosalyn Carter. But by the time Jones and his
followers had begun their emigration to the “promised land” in Guyana, the
group had become increasingly militant and paranoid.
Deborah Layton saw that something was seriously wrong the
minute she arrived in Jonestown, and six months before the massacre, she
escaped the guarded compound she had imagined would be paradise. Her warnings
to the press and to the US State Department of an impending disaster fell on
disbelieving ears: Exactly four days after her testimony in Washington, DC,
Congressman Leo Ryan, three reporters, and over nine hundred Peoples Temple
members, including Layton’s mother and countless friends, were dead. Layton’s
return to the world outside of the Peoples Temple was slow and painful. Her
brother remains in prison, the only person alive today held accountable for the
tragedy. After years of shame and silence, she is finally telling her story.
From Waco to Heaven’s Gate, the past decade has seen its
share of cult tragedies, but none quite so dramatic or compelling as Jonestown.
In this very personal account, Layton opens up the shadowy world of cults that
pervade our existence and shows how any race, culture, or class of individuals
can fall victim to a cult’s strange allure. Vividly written and powerfully
told, Seductive Poison is both an
unflinching historical document and an enthralling story of intrigue, power, and
murder. Download and start listening now!