The key to understanding the tragedy that was Jonestown lies in the oratory skills of the Peoples Temple founder, Jim Jones.
With the cadence and fervor of a Baptist preacher, the charm and folksiness of a country storyteller and the zeal and fury of a maniacal dictator, Jones exhorted his followers to a fever pitch, audiotapes recovered from Jonestown reveal.
As he spoke, they applauded, shouted, cheered. One follower who survived the "revolutionary suicide" at Jonestown on November 18, 1978, said that Jones was the most dynamic speaker he had ever heard.
Like all powerful speakers, Jones' greatest asset was his ability to determine what listeners wanted to hear and give it to them in simple language that appealed to them on an almost instinctual level.
"He was very charismatic, very charismatic," said Leslie Wilson, who survived that fateful day in Jonestown by walking away from the settlement before the cyanide that killed more than 900 Peoples Temple members was distributed. She was one of 33 people who began the day in Jonestown and lived to tell the tale. Read full article »