9 books like Seductive Poison

By Deborah Layton,

Here are 9 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Seductive Poison. Shepherd is a community of 8,000+ 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

Judy Bebelaar Author Of And Then They Were Gone: Teenagers of Peoples Temple from High School to Jonestown

From the list on Jonestown and Peoples Temple.

Who am I?

I taught English and creative writing for 37 years in San Francisco, California. In 2018, Ron Cabral and I published And Then They Were Gone, which tells the story of the People’s Temple teenagers we taught. Many of them never returned after the Jonestown massacre and died there. We hope this story about our young students—their hopes, their poetry, their efforts to help make a better world—will bring some light to the dark story of Jonestown.

Judy's book list on Jonestown and Peoples Temple

Discover why each book is one of Judy's favorite books.

Why did Judy love this book?

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…


Beautiful Revolutionary

By Laura Elizabeth Woollett, Laura Elizabeth Woollett,

Book cover of Beautiful Revolutionary

Judy Bebelaar Author Of And Then They Were Gone: Teenagers of Peoples Temple from High School to Jonestown

From the list on Jonestown and Peoples Temple.

Who am I?

I taught English and creative writing for 37 years in San Francisco, California. In 2018, Ron Cabral and I published And Then They Were Gone, which tells the story of the People’s Temple teenagers we taught. Many of them never returned after the Jonestown massacre and died there. We hope this story about our young students—their hopes, their poetry, their efforts to help make a better world—will bring some light to the dark story of Jonestown.

Judy's book list on Jonestown and Peoples Temple

Discover why each book is one of Judy's favorite books.

Why did Judy love this book?

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, 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

Judy Bebelaar Author Of And Then They Were Gone: Teenagers of Peoples Temple from High School to Jonestown

From the list on Jonestown and Peoples Temple.

Who am I?

I taught English and creative writing for 37 years in San Francisco, California. In 2018, Ron Cabral and I published And Then They Were Gone, which tells the story of the People’s Temple teenagers we taught. Many of them never returned after the Jonestown massacre and died there. We hope this story about our young students—their hopes, their poetry, their efforts to help make a better world—will bring some light to the dark story of Jonestown.

Judy's book list on Jonestown and Peoples Temple

Discover why each book is one of Judy's favorite books.

Why did Judy love this book?

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…


Season of the Witch

By David Talbot,

Book cover of Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love

Elizabeth Linhart Veneman Author Of Moon: Northern California

From the list on San Francisco’s idealism, power, grit, and beauty.

Who am I?

My early memories of San Francisco in the late 1970s are anything but glamorous. We lived in a crummy apartment down the street from the People’s Temple, and my preschool, in the always gray Sunset, served carob, not chocolate. Despite decamping for the greener pastures and white sands of Carmel-By-The-Sea, I was forever hooked by the gritty magic of San Francisco. I eventually returned to the city’s foggy Richmond District, where now I ruminate on past adventures, plot new ones, and write about the place I love. I'm the author of Moon Napa Sonoma, Moon California, and Moon Northern California, and my work has appeared in 7x7, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Alaska Magazine

Elizabeth's book list on San Francisco’s idealism, power, grit, and beauty

Discover why each book is one of Elizabeth's favorite books.

Why did Elizabeth love this book?

The myths of San Francisco loom large in our cultural imagination, but as David Talbot writes in Season of the Witch, the truth is far more interesting, disturbing, grotesque, and beautiful than even the most cinematic retelling. Between 1967-1983, the city was the epicenter of several countercultures, and home to multiple serial killers, political assassinations, bombing attempts, kidnappings, drug and viral epidemics; all of which unfold in heart-stopping quick succession. You’ll watch situations shift from exuberant to deadly in a matter of years, months, or weeks. You’ll also see how small the city really is; familiar names popping up in seemingly unrelated places; events linked by surprising characters. Talbot’s one point of levity is the carnivalesque sideshow of Anton LaVey and his Church of Satan. That tells you something.

Season of the Witch

By David Talbot,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Season of the Witch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The critically acclaimed, San Francisco Chronicle bestseller—a gripping story of the strife and tragedy that led to San Francisco’s ultimate rebirth and triumph.

Salon founder David Talbot chronicles the cultural history of San Francisco and from the late 1960s to the early 1980s when figures such as Harvey Milk, Janis Joplin, Jim Jones, and Bill Walsh helped usher from backwater city to thriving metropolis.


Book cover of Combating Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best-Selling Guide to Protection, Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults

Richard Abanes Author Of One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church

From the list on cults, world religions, and extremist faiths.

Who am I?

As a young man, I wanted to do good. And I believed the best way to do that was to increase the commitment I’d made to my faith. So, I joined a church that appeared genuine. But much to my shock, not everything was as it seemed—I’d fallen into a cult. Deception, authoritarianism, and hypocrisy abounded. This led me on a decades-long search for answers: How could leaders do this? Why would members stay loyal? What could be done about it? I eventually found my answers and began doing what I’d always wanted to do—help others. I did it by becoming a journalist/author specializing in religion. 

Richard's book list on cults, world religions, and extremist faiths

Discover why each book is one of Richard's favorite books.

Why did Richard love this book?

As someone who personally knows this author, I can say with absolute certainty that this is one of the best go-to books for anyone interested in cult structure and the dynamics of cult involvement. If you’ve ever been perplexed by how someone could possibly get involved in not just a religion-based cult, but also a politics-based cult, then this is the volume for you. It’s intriguing, as well as informative.  

Combating Cult Mind Control

By Steven Hassan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Combating Cult Mind Control as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Combating Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best-Selling Guide to Protection, Rescue and Recovery from Destructive Cults:
This 2018, 30th-anniversary edition honors the 40th anniversary of the tragedy in Jonestown, Guyana. On November 18th, 1978, over 900 people including a U.S. congressman Leo Ryan died because of Cult Leader Jim Jones. Over 300 were children forced to drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid by their parents who believed they were doing God’s will. The techniques of undue influence have evolved dramatically, and continue to do so. Today, a vast array of methods exist to deceive, manipulate, and indoctrinate people into closed systems of obedience…


Palace of the Peacock

By Wilson Harris,

Book cover of Palace of the Peacock

J. Alison Rosenblitt Author Of The Beauty of Living: E. E. Cummings in the Great War

From the list on that write about injustice in different ways.

Who am I?

I am a biographer, and my biography of E.E. Cummings centers on his unjust imprisonment in France during the Great War in dangerously brutal conditions—cold, underfed, and subject to the sadism of the prison guards. It is hard to imagine anything more imperative than writing about injustice. But perhaps for that very reason, it is difficult to write without the consciousness of a deep inadequacy to the task. I feel therefore an enormous gratitude towards those writers, five of whom I have chosen here, whose honesty and courage in writing about injustice serves as an inspiration and a beacon. 

J.'s book list on that write about injustice in different ways

Discover why each book is one of J.'s favorite books.

Why did J. love this book?

Wilson Harris’s Palace of the Peacock is a wildly different way of writing about injustice – mesmerising and disorienting. The language swirls around itself and there is a bewildering feeling of never knowing quite what you are reading. I felt completely taken away from myself reading it, with no idea where I was being taken but utterly absorbed in its world. Originally published in 1960, it has now been republished in a wonderful new edition from Faber Finds, which includes a foreword by Harris reflecting on his own place in early postcolonial literature and a superb afterword by Kenneth Ramchand.

Palace of the Peacock

By Wilson Harris,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The visionary masterpiece, tracing a riverboat crew's dreamlike jungle voyage ...
'My new all time favourite book ... A magnificent, breathtaking and terrifying novel.' Tsitsi Dangarembga
'An exhilarating experience ... Makes visions real and reality visions ... Genius.' Jamaica Kincaid
'A masterpiece: I love this book for its language, adventure and wisdoms.' Monique Roffey
'Revel in the inviolate, ever-deepening mystery of Wilson Harris's work.' Jeet Thayil
'The Guyanese William Blake . Such poetic intensity.' Angela Carter

I dreamt I awoke with one dead seeing eye and one living closed eye ...

A crew of men are embarking on a voyage…


Book cover of Children of the Spider

Joanne C. Hillhouse Author Of Musical Youth

From the list on Caribbean teen and YA for readers everywhere.

Who am I?

I am an Antiguan-Barbudan writer. When I was a teen, there weren’t a lot of books from my world. So, I was excited when the Burt Award for teen/young adult Caribbean literature was announced. While that prize ran its course after five years, it left a library of great books in this genre, including my own Musical Youth which placed second in the inaugural year of the prize. I have since served as a judge of the Caribbean prize and mentor for the Africa-leg. I love that this series of books tap into different genres and styles in demonstrating the dynamism of modern Caribbean literature. For more on me, my books, and my take on books, visit my website.

Joanne's book list on Caribbean teen and YA for readers everywhere

Discover why each book is one of Joanne's favorite books.

Why did Joanne love this book?

Each book listed – including mine – was a top-three finalist for the Burt Award for teen/young adult Caribbean fiction. Children of the Spider stands apart as a blend of fantasy adventure and Caribbean folklore, its teen protagonists on their world-saving mission. It moves from the jungles of Guyana to the city, which is another kind of jungle, and has a fresh take on the legendary West African demi-god Anansi. These kids (a girl who makes a desperate leap between worlds, a boy not slowed by his handicap, and a boy from the streets) have nothing but each other and a trickster spider, maybe, as they face down monsters which seem to be everywhere. It’s an adrenaline rush across a magical landscape. It’s the Anansi reboot for me!

Children of the Spider

By Imam Baksh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Children of the Spider is a fast-paced adventure, that brings an interesting blend of Afro-Caribbean and greek myth in a riveting contemporary novel. The story follows two Amerindian children, Mayali who is actually a girl from another world and the tech-savvy deaf-mute Joseph as they are being chased by the power-hungry Spider gods from the land of Zolpash. The story moves from the lush hinterlands of Guyana through to the bustling, city of Georgetown where the colonial past continues to rub shoulders with the gritty, contemporary world. It is a refreshing take on Caribbean myth and mythology from an interesting…


Coolie Woman

By Gaiutra Bahadur,

Book cover of Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture

Julia Schiavone Camacho Author Of Chinese Mexicans: Transpacific Migration and the Search for a Homeland, 1910-1960

From the list on Asian diasporas in the Americas with personal stories.

Who am I?

Raised in a Mexican-Italian family, I grew up traveling across the Arizona-Sonora borderlands to visit my extended family. As a kid, I took for granted movement across boundaries and cultural and racial mixture, but eventually, I came to see it framed my experience and outlook. In researching the Chinese in northern Mexico, I learned that Mexican women and Chinese-Mexican children followed their expelled men, whether by force or choice, and I became enthralled. I had to find out how these families fared after crossing not just borders but oceans. My passion for reading about how the long presence of Asians in the Americas complicates our understanding of history has only deepened.

Julia's book list on Asian diasporas in the Americas with personal stories

Discover why each book is one of Julia's favorite books.

Why did Julia love this book?

This book unfolds in a compelling, nonlinear manner, and crosses genres. A combination of biography and family memoir and journalistic and scholarly research, it traces overlapping stories as the author sets out to discover why her great-grandmother traveled from India to America as a “coolie” at the start of the twentieth century and how this migration shaped future generations. Beautifully written, the book raises thorny issues around gender, race, and nationality, offering insight into the wider journeys of Indian contract laborers to the Caribbean and beyond.

Coolie Woman

By Gaiutra Bahadur,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Coolie Woman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1903 a Brahmin woman sailed from India to Guyana as a 'coolie', the name the British gave to the million indentured labourers they recruited for sugar plantations worldwide after slavery ended. The woman, who claimed no husband, was pregnant and travelling alone. A century later, her great-granddaughter embarks on a journey into the past, hoping to solve a mystery: what made her leave her country? And had she also left behind a man? Gaiutra Bahadur, an American journalist, pursues traces of her great-grandmother over three continents. She also excavates the repressed history of some quarter of a million female…


Book cover of The Ten Incarnations of Adam Avatar

Shauna Singh Baldwin Author Of The Tiger Claw

From the list on writers breaking cross cross-cultural boundaries.

Who am I?

I am a Canadian-American writer of Indian heritage, an award-winning novelist and short fiction writer, playwright, and poet. I grew up in Delhi, hearing stories from my maternal grandparents who were refugees during the 1947 Partition of India. So, as my work reflects, I’m drawn to stories of resilience in the face of cultural conflict, religious upheaval, migration, immigration, and displacement. My MBA is from Marquette University, and my MFA from the University of British Columbia. I am working on another novel.

Shauna's book list on writers breaking cross cross-cultural boundaries

Discover why each book is one of Shauna's favorite books.

Why did Shauna love this book?

This Trinidadian writer crosses religious, ethnic, and gender lines to show us the history of slavery in Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, and Guyana. Adam Avatar reincarnates in different centuries and continents as an Amerindian, a Spanish conquistador, a Portuguese slaver, a Yoruba slave, a female pirate, and a female stick fighter in nineteenth-century Trinidad. To tell his engrossing story, Baldeosingh writes in several historical Englishes, crossing language boundaries, demonstrating how language has changed over time. Along the way, I learned about the different phases of slavery, from the view of the slavers and enslaved. The story invites comparison to indenture, apartheid, and Jim Crow. It was a difficult read, horrific at times. But so was slavery.  

The Ten Incarnations of Adam Avatar

By Kevin Baldeosingh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ten Incarnations of Adam Avatar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This postmodern historical novel addresses power, sex, and the role of the imagination in constructing social realities. Adam Avatar has been, among other incarnations, a Spanish priest, a slave trader, a white indentured servant, and a female pirate. In each incarnation, however, he is killed at age 50 by his nemesis the Shadowman, a fate he hopes to elude in his life as a Caribbean everyman, with the aid of a psychiatrist. The historical periods of his life are vividly portrayed with Joycean grasp of historical voice, examining the wrongs of each period and discovering the malleability of individuals in…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Peoples Temple, cults, and San Francisco?

8,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Peoples Temple, cults, and San Francisco.

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