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Jeff Guinn spends a lot of time with monsters. 

An award-winning investigative journalist and member of the Texas Literary Hall of Fame, the Fort Worth writer has spent the last seven years writing great biographies of humanity’s worst. In his 2010 book, Go Down Together, he followed notorious Dallas degenerates Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker from the slums of their youth to their bullet-riddled end. In 2014’s Manson, Guinn traced the life of the granddaddy of all desert demagogues from his tragic boyhood to the murders that ended the 1960s.

In Guinn’s latest book, The Road to Jonestown, the author focuses on Jim Jones, the reverend from Indiana who led his Peoples Temple (Guinn notes that to discourage any senses of personal ownership, Jones excised the apostrophe from the name) to their deaths in a Guyana jungle. The book is much more than the well-trodden story of blind faith run amuck. Guinn masterfully combines unparalleled document research and interviews with those left behind to understand how a man of God could go from minister to maniac, how people could go from congregants to victims, and how ideals move from beneficial to dangerous. 

The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple

By Jeff Guinn

Simon & Schuster

531 pps.

$28

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