This is the first episode of a series exploring Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple. This episode is only a prologue, a few stories and ideas to serve as a backdrop for everything to come. The next episode will be along in the next few weeks, and every few weeks after that until we figure out why over 900 people committed suicide in a South American jungle in 1978.
I won’t be following the usual format of a few long episodes released months apart from each other. A few episodes are long and directly advance the Jonestown story, but I have created a bunch of episodes, some of them as short as 30-40 minutes, others several hours long, that deal with issues we need to dive into in order to get our arms around this story. I have episodes about the varieties of American religious experience in the 20th century, the development of the radical left and the black power movements in the ’60s and ’70s, and the major figures of those movements. We’ll talk about the FBI and COINTELPRO, the explosion of violence after 1968 from groups like Weathermen, the Black Liberation Army, and the Symbionese Liberation Army. I’ll tell the story of the rise and fall of the Black Panthers, and we’ll even talk about Charles Manson. And it all has do to do with Jim Jones and Peoples Temple.
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