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Jonestown

Port Kaituma airstrip shootings
Location Port Kaituma, Guyana
Coordinates 7°42′18″N 59°54′22″W / 7.704961°N 59.90614°W / 7.704961; -59.90614Coordinates: 7°42′18″N 59°54′22″W / 7.704961°N 59.90614°W / 7.704961; -59.90614
Date November 18, 1978
5:20 p.m.–5:25 p.m. (UTC-4)
Target Congressman Leo Ryan and party; defectors from the Peoples Temple at Jonestown
Attack type
Mass murder
Weapons Handguns, shotguns, rifles
Deaths 5
Non-fatal injuries
11
Perpetrators Larry Layton (Cessna attack)
Suspected perpetrators
Joe Wilson (Twin Otter attack)
Thomas Kice Sr. (Twin Otter attack)
Ronnie Dennis (Twin Otter attack)
Approximately 5–6 additional Peoples Temple members (Twin Otter attack)

Coordinates: 7°41′22″N 59°57′0″W / 7.68944°N 59.95000°W / 7.68944; -59.95000

"Jonestown" was the informal name for the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project formed by the Peoples Temple, an American religious organization under the leadership of Jim Jones, in northwestern Guyana. It became internationally notorious when on November 18, 1978, a total of 918 people died in the remote commune, at the nearby airstrip in Port Kaituma, and in Georgetown, Guyana's capital city. The name of the settlement became synonymous with the incidents at those locations.

A total of 909 Americans died in Jonestown, all but two from apparent cyanide poisoning, in an event termed "revolutionary suicide" by Jones and some members on an audio tape of the event and in prior discussions. The poisonings in Jonestown followed the murder of five others by Temple members at Port Kaituma, including United States Congressman Leo Ryan, an act that Jones ordered. Four other Temple members committed murder-suicide in Georgetown at Jones' command.

While some refer to the events in Jonestown as mass suicide, many others, including Jonestown survivors, regard them as mass murder. All who drank poison did so under duress, and more than a third of victims (304) were minors. It was the largest such event in modern history and resulted in the largest single loss of American civilian life in a deliberate act until September 11, 2001. In recent years, the Jonestown massacre has been the subject of several conspiracy theories.



  • Brailey, Jeffrey (1998). The Ghosts of November: Memoirs of an Outsider Who Witnessed the Carnage at Jonestown, Guyana. San Antonio, TX: J & J Publishers. ISBN . 
  • Chidester, David (1988). Salvation and Suicide. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN . 
  • Dolan, Sean (2000). Everything You Need to Know About Cults. New York: Rosen Pub. Group. ISBN . 
  • Feinsod, Ethan (1981). Awake in a Nightmare: Jonestown: The Only Eyewitness Account. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. ISBN .  Based on interviews with Odell Rhodes.
  • Galanter, M. (1999). Cults: Faith, Healing, and Coercion. New York: Oxford University Press. 
  • Kahalas, Laurie Efrein (1998). Snake Dance: Unravelling the Mysteries of Jonestown. New York: Red Robin Press. ISBN . 
  • Kerns, Phil (1978). People's Temple, People's Tomb. Logos Associates. ISBN . 
  • Kilduff, Marshall; Ron Javers (1978). The Suicide Cult: The Inside Story of the Peoples Temple Sect and the Massacre in Guyana. New York: Bantam Books. ISBN . 
  • Klineman, George; Sherman Butler (1980). The Cult That Died. G.P. Putnam's Sons. ISBN . 
  • Kohl, Laura Johnston. Jonestown Survivor: An Insider's Look. New York: IUniverse, 2010. 
  • koq (2014). Recordead: The Jonestown Tapes. Kindle Direct Publishing,. 
  • Krause, Charles A. with Laurence M. Stern, Richard Harwood and the staff of The Washington Post (1978). Guyana Massacre: The Eyewitness Account. New York: Berkley Pub. Corp. ISBN . 
  • Lane, Mark (1980). The Strongest Poison. New York: Hawthorn Books. ISBN . 
  • Maaga, Mary McCormick (1998). Hearing the Voices of Jonestown. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press. ISBN . 
  • Mills, Jeannie (1979). Six Years with God: Life Inside Rev. Jim Jones's People's Temple. New York: A&W Publishers. ISBN . 
  • Moore, Rebecca. In Defense of Peoples Temple. Lewiston, N.Y.: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1988. 
  • Naipaul, Shiva (1982). Journey to Nowhere: A New World Tragedy. Harmondsworth [Eng.]: Penguin. ISBN .  (published in the UK as Black and White)
  • Reston, James, Jr. (1981). Our Father Who Art in Hell: The Life and Death of Jim Jones. New York: Times Books. ISBN . 
  • Scheeres, Julia (2011). A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown. New York: Free Press. ISBN . 
  • Stephenson, Denice (2005). Dear People: Remembering Jonestown. Heyday Books. ISBN . 
  • Thielmann, Bonnie, Merrill, Dean. The Broken God. Elgin, Ill.: David C. Cook Publishing Co., 1979. 
  • Thrash, Catherine (Hyacinth), as told to Marian K. Towne. The Onliest One Alive: Surviving Jonestown, Guyana. Indianapolis: Marian K. Towne, 1995. 
  • Wagner-Wilson, Leslie (2009). Slavery of Faith. New York: Universe. 
  • Wooden, Kenneth. The Children of Jonestown. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1981. 
  • Wright, Lawrence. The Sons of Jim Jones. The New Yorker 69, no. 39 (Nov 22, 1993): 66–89. 
  • Yee, Min S., Layton, Thomas N. In My Father’s House. New-York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1981. 
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