“As you’d imagine, the phrase offends survivors. It reduces a mass tragedy to the level of banality. Jonestown residents didn’t willingly drink poison—they were forced to do so. Jones gave them a choice: drink cyanide or be shot to death by armed guards. Living was not an alternative.”
Mark Armstrong | Longreads | November 18, 2014 | 5 minutes (1,301 words)
Thirty-six years ago, on Nov. 18, 1978, a charismatic preacher from San Francisco named Jim Jones led his followers into one of the most horrific massacres in American history. More than 900 people—including 303 children—were slaughtered, in a place called Jonestown. It was a community first built as a socialist utopia for parishioners from the Peoples Temple. But Jones had other plans, planting the seeds of “revolutionary suicide” that ended with mass cyanide poisoning.
I spoke with Julia Scheeres, author of the book A Thousand Lives and our latest Longreads Exclusive, “Escape from Jonestown,” about the newly public home movies from inside and how the phrase “drink the Kool-Aid” became a terrible reminder for its survivors.Continue reading “It’s Time to Stop Saying ‘Drink the Kool-Aid’: Interview with Jonestown Author Julia Scheeres”