10 books like Season of the Witch

By David Talbot,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Season of the Witch. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Raven

By Tim Reiterman,

Book cover of Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People

Raven is the best, most comprehensive, and most thoroughly researched book on Jim Jones, Jonestown, and Peoples Temple. Reiterman is a fine investigative journalist who was part of a group to visit Jonestown, Guyana in November of 1978. The visitors included, among others, eight members of the press; Congressman Leo Ryan and his aide Jackie Speier; and thirteen representatives of the “Concerned Relatives,” their own name for the group. Every member of the group had defected from the Temple in San Francisco. Only some of these visitors—Reiterman and a few of the other journalists, Ryan and Speier, and a small number of the group of relatives—were finally and reluctantly admitted in by Jones, on the stern advice of Jones’s lawyers. The Concerned Relatives were there to see if—as they strongly suspected—those in Jonestown were being held against their will.  The journalists wanted to find the truth about life in the…

Raven

By Tim Reiterman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Raven as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The basis for the upcoming HBO miniseries and the "definitive account of the Jonestown massacre" (Rolling Stone) -- now available for the first time in paperback.

Tim Reiterman’s Raven provides the seminal history of the Rev. Jim Jones, the Peoples Temple, and the murderous ordeal at Jonestown in 1978.

This PEN Award–winning work explores the ideals-gone-wrong, the intrigue, and the grim realities behind the Peoples Temple and its implosion in the jungle of South America. Reiterman’s reportage clarifies enduring misperceptions of the character and motives of Jim Jones, the reasons why people followed him, and the important truth that many…


Seductive Poison

By Deborah Layton,

Book cover of Seductive Poison: A Jonestown Survivor's Story of Life and Death in the Peoples Temple

Layton escaped, at great risk, to try to prevent the tragedy of Jonestown. Her book is the best book yet to read to see Jonestown and Jim Jones through the eyes of a survivor. Layton entered Jonestown (as did most of Ron’s and my students) later than early settlers, when the situation was getting more and more dire as Jones was deteriorating. 

Twenty-four at the time, Layton accompanied her mother, who believed Jones could cure her cancer. As Charles Krause says in the foreword, “Debbie quickly realized that she and the others had been deliberately deceived: Jonestown was essentially a concentration camp in the jungle.” Layton had been in the church since she was a teen. Jones had immediately recognized her intelligence and energy, and eventually made her one of his inner circle. When she left, he declared her a traitor. The book is fascinating and well written.

Seductive Poison

By Deborah Layton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Seductive Poison as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this haunting and riveting firsthand account, a survivor of Jim Jones's Peoples Temple opens up the shadowy world of cults and shows how anyone can fall under their spell.

"A suspenseful tale of escape that reads like a satisfying thriller.... The most important personal testimony to emerge from the Jonestown tragedy." —Chicago Tribune

A high-level member of Jim Jones's Peoples Temple for seven years, Deborah Layton escaped his infamous commune in the Guyanese jungle, leaving behind her mother, her older brother, and many friends. She returned to the United States with warnings of impending disaster, but her pleas for…


Beautiful Revolutionary

By Laura Elizabeth Woollett,

Book cover of Beautiful Revolutionary

Woollett’s novel is based on much research on Peoples Temple and Jonestown. She came to the US from Australia for interviews with many survivors and others—including Ron Cabral and me because of our knowledge of the teenagers in the Temple. It’s a great read and adds much to the understanding of those who joined the Temple. Evelyn Lyndon (all the characters have fictional names except Jim Jones) is the “Beautiful Revolutionary” who, with her idealistic husband, joins the Temple and eventually becomes one of Jones’s mistresses. I recognize many of the book’s characters, sometimes two people rolled into one. Only in a novel could Woollett be in the minds of the characters she follows in this story, who are all believable and vividly drawn.

Beautiful Revolutionary

By Laura Elizabeth Woollett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Beautiful Revolutionary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The thrilling new novel, inspired by the events at Jonestown in the 1970s.

It's the summer of 1968, and Evelyn Lynden is a woman at war with herself. Minister's daughter. Atheist. Independent woman. Frustrated wife. Bitch with a bleeding heart.

Following her conscientious-objector husband Lenny to the rural Eden of Evergreen Valley, California, Evelyn wants to be happy with their new life. Yet she finds herself disillusioned with Lenny's passive ways - and anxious for a saviour. Enter the Reverend Jim Jones, the dynamic leader of a new revolutionary church ...

Meticulously researched and masterfully written, Beautiful Revolutionary explores the…


A Thousand Lives

By Julia Scheeres,

Book cover of A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Jonestown

Julia Scheeres is the New York Times best-selling author of Jesus Land, a memoir about being sent, along with her adoptive brother, to a Christian reform camp in the Dominican Republic Their parents, conservative Christians sent them there when Julia and her brother were teenagers. The camp, Scheeres says, had “some uncanny parallels” with Jonestown. 

She begins the story with the story of Tommy Bogue’s “adventure.” Tommy “gripped the slick railing, bracing himself against the waves,” as Jonestown’s small boat headed across the Atlantic and up the coast to the Kaituma River, on his journey to the settlement. Tommy, like Layton, was soon disillusioned. Tommy was a brother of Marilee, Ron’s and my student, who like her mother, was a Jones loyalist. Tommy refused to follow the many strict rules in Jonestown, and broke them to go outside of its borders to follow his curiosity about the jungle and the…

A Thousand Lives

By Julia Scheeres,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Thousand Lives as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A gripping account of how decent people can be taken in by a charismatic and crazed tyrant” (The New York Times Book Review).

In 1954, a past or named Jim Jones opened a church in Indianapolis called Peoples Temple Full Gospel Church. He was a charismatic preacher with idealistic beliefs, and he quickly filled his pews with an audience eager to hear his sermons on social justice. As Jones’s behavior became erratic and his message more ominous, his followers leaned on each other to recapture the sense of equality that had drawn them to his church. But even as the…


Imperial San Francisco

By Gray Brechin,

Book cover of Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin

San Francisco the good, an icon of diversity, creativity, and prosperity, is how I imagined the city. This book weaves a compelling, alternative narrative. Brechin tells his story through the rising fortunes of founding fathers–politicians, engineers, and entrepreneursmany today memorialized in San Francisco’s public spaces and places. People like media tycoon William Randolph Hearst Jr. with all his narcissism, wealth, and political ambition (remind you of anyone?). The book unearths the city’s beginnings in the rapacious extraction of resources in frontier California. It illustrates (through art, newspaper cartoons, and headlines) the city as the spearhead of an emerging empire with all of its racist and white supremacist roots. The book chronicles the trauma inflicted on nature and nations that stood in the way of San Francisco’s ambition. It demands that we reflect on ‘the stuff’ our great cities are made of.

Imperial San Francisco

By Gray Brechin,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Imperial San Francisco as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in 1999, this celebrated history of San Francisco traces the exploitation of both local and distant regions by prominent families - the Hearsts, de Youngs, Spreckelses, and others - who gained power through mining, ranching, water and energy, transportation, real estate, weapons, and the mass media. The story uncovered by Gray Brechin is one of greed and ambition on an epic scale. Brechin arrives at a new way of understanding urban history as he traces the connections between environment, economy, and technology and discovers links that led, ultimately, to the creation of the atomic bomb and the nuclear…


Cool Gray City of Love

By Gary Kamiya,

Book cover of Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco

Cool Gray City of Love is a portrait, in the most classical sense, of San Francisco, and Kamiya is the journeyman traveling the cityscape to capture his subject’s soul. Each chapter centers on a point on San Francisco’s vast landscape, which blossoms into a tiny universe of place and history at Kamiya’s hand. He begins at the Farallon Islands, then jumps to The Tenderloin, then to Alcatraz, followed by Glen Canyon. While the journey can seem as incongruous as Bullitt’s race through San Francisco, it is as equally compelling, entertaining, and stunning. You’ll find yourself pulled along, promising to put the book down at the end of each chapter but unable to, falling in love with the city as you go. 

Cool Gray City of Love

By Gary Kamiya,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Cool Gray City of Love as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A kaleidoscopic homage both personal and historical . . . Kamiya’s symphony of San Francisco is a grand pleasure." ―New York Times Book Review

The bestselling love letter to one of the world's great cities, San Francisco, by a life-long Bay Area resident and co-founder of Salon.

Cool, Gray City of Love brings together an exuberant combination of personal history, deeply researched history, in-depth reporting, and lyrical prose to create an unparalleled portrait of San Francisco. Each of its 49 chapters explores a specific site or intersection in the city, from the mighty Golden Gate Bridge to the raunchy Tenderloin…


Infinite City

By Rebecca Solnit,

Book cover of Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas

Rebecca Solnit’s San Francisco is an onion; not one to be peeled back, but one whose paper skins remain overlapping in layered complexity. Reflecting the city’s élan, this odd-sized book is a beautiful compendium of exquisitely illustrated maps, each unique in style and in juxtaposing themes. You’ll open it to find one plotting Bay Area culinary establishments against its Super Fund sites; then flip to a quixotic mapping of murders and Monterey Cypress; then to another revealing the lost world of South of Market or the Third Street corridor from 4000 B.C.E. to 2001. Each map has a corresponding essay, many written by writers other than Solnit, adding to the vibrancy of voices in this masterwork of a diverse and complex place. 

Infinite City

By Rebecca Solnit,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Infinite City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What makes a place? "Infinite City", Rebecca Solnit's brilliant reinvention of the traditional atlas, searches out the answer by examining the many layers of meaning in one place, the San Francisco Bay Area. Aided by artists, writers, cartographers, and twenty-two gorgeous color maps, each of which illuminates the city and its surroundings as experienced by different inhabitants, Solnit takes us on a tour that will forever change the way we think about place. She explores the area thematically - connecting, for example, Eadweard Muybridge's foundation of motion-picture technology with Alfred Hitchcock's filming of "Vertigo". Across an urban grid of just…


Altamont

By Joel Selvin,

Book cover of Altamont: The Rolling Stones, the Hells Angels, and the Inside Story of Rock's Darkest Day

Dive down San Francisco’s counterculture rabbit hole with Joel Selvin, the Bay Area’s best rock journalist. Altamont chronicles the rise and fall of the infamous Rolling Stones concert at the Altamont raceway in the Bay Area’s eastern hills, which notoriously end with the murder of concertgoer Meredith Hunter by the Hells Angels. Selvin’s unvarnished coverage goes deep into the world of the 1960s rock scene where innocence and ugliness, odd allegiances, and creative force make a unique cultural moment in the Bay Area. You’ll also get to know some big names in rock, and witness the counterculture as it gets distorted and its innocence lost, as the money gets better and the drugs stronger. You’ll never listen to the Stones or the Dead the same way again.

Altamont

By Joel Selvin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Altamont as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this breathtaking cultural history filled with exclusive, never-before-revealed details, celebrated rock journalist Joel Selvin tells the definitive story of the Rolling Stones' infamous Altamont concert, the disastrous historic event that marked the end of the idealistic 1960s. In the annals of rock history, the Altamont Speedway Free Festival on December 6, 1969, has long been seen as the distorted twin of Woodstock-the day that shattered the Sixties' promise of peace and love when a concertgoer was killed by a member of the Hells Angels, the notorious biker club acting as security. While most people know of the events from…


Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible

By Peter Pomerantsev,

Book cover of Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia

This is a page-turner that I read in one go from front to finish. It reads like a thriller and keeps you hooked, although it is also a very serious analysis of contemporary Russia by one of the UK’s most skilled journalists and authors. It is as thrilling as it is frightening because there are so many signs that western countries are heading in a similar direction—a country that “is a dictatorship in the morning, a democracy at lunch, an oligarchy by suppertime, while, backstage, oil companies are expropriated, journalists killed, billions siphoned away”, as Peter put it in one of his memorable phrases.

Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible

By Peter Pomerantsev,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the new Russia, even dictatorship is a reality show. Professional killers with the souls of artists, would-be theater directors turned Kremlin puppet-masters, suicidal supermodels, Hell's Angels who hallucinate themselves as holy warriors, and oligarch revolutionaries: welcome to the glittering, surreal heart of twenty-first-century Russia. It is a world erupting with new money and new power, changing so fast it breaks all sense of reality, home to a form of dictatorship--far subtler than twentieth-century strains--that is rapidly rising to challenge the West. When British producer Peter Pomerantsev plunges into the booming Russian TV industry, he gains access to every nook…


The Fourth Revolution

By John Micklethwait, Adrian Wooldridge,

Book cover of The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State

The authors of this book were stalwarts of The Economist for many years. They bring to this book all their considerable powers as writers and analysts of contemporary politics and economics. Again, this book was a major source of inspiration for my own book. After discussing prior revolutions in the scale and scope of the state over the last two centuries, The Fourth Revolution argues that: 1) reform of the state is essential, and 2) this reform is possible because it is already happening all over the world thanks to new technology. This book, therefore, served for me as the launching point for my own book which looks at a great number of these actual changes in governments around the world that are taking place on the back of new technologies and forms of organization. 

The Fourth Revolution

By John Micklethwait, Adrian Wooldridge,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Fourth Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the bestselling authors of The Right Nation, a visionary argument that our current crisis in government is nothing less than the fourth radical transition in the history of the nation-state

Dysfunctional government: It's become a cliche, and most of us are resigned to the fact that nothing is ever going to change. As John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge show us, that is a seriously limited view of things. In fact, there have been three great revolutions in government in the history of the modern world. The West has led these revolutions, but now we are in the midst of…


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