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Seductive Poison: A Jonestown Survivor’s Story of Life and Death in the Peoples Temple by Deborah Layton Review

Title: Seductive Poison: A Jonestown Survivor’s Story of Life and Death in the Peoples Temple

Author: Deborah Layton

First published January 1, 1997

368 pages, Paperback

ISBN: 9780385489843 (ISBN10: 0385489846)

Rating: 4.1


In the bustling city of Tokyo, ambition and beauty collide in ways that are both mesmerizing and dangerous. Sumeragi Subaru knows this all too well, for he is a hunter of the dead.

It is his duty to bring peace to the departed, no matter what horrors he may face along the way. As he navigates the city’s winding streets and towering skyscrapers, he knows that he can never truly leave Tokyo behind.

For in a city that never sleeps, the spirits of the dead are always watching, always waiting, and always in need of Subaru’s help.

About the Author

On May 14, 1978, she made the brave decision to leave the People’s Temple, led by Rev. James Warren Jones, and the community of Jonestown.

Editoral Review

In her book Seductive Poison: A Jonestown Survivor’s Story of Life and Death in the Peoples Temple, Deborah Layton tells the harrowing true story of her involvement in the infamous Jonestown massacre of 1978. Initially drawn in by the charismatic leader Jim Jones and his seemingly utopian community, Layton eventually became disillusioned with the cult and played a key role in exposing its dark secrets to the world.

Layton’s book falls into the category of memoir, but it also reads like a gripping thriller or true crime novel. Her writing is clear and direct, pulling the reader along on her journey without ever being gratuitously graphic or sensationalistic.

At the same time, she doesn’t shy away from describing the horrific events that she witnessed and the emotional toll they took on her. The book is structured around Layton’s own experiences, but it also provides context about the history and philosophy of the People’s Temple and the political and social climate of the 1970s.

This background information adds depth and richness to the narrative and helps to explain how such a tragedy could happen. One of the strengths of Seductive Poison is Layton’s portrayal of the complex and contradictory nature of human behavior.

She doesn’t paint herself or anyone else as entirely good or bad, but rather shows how people can be manipulated and influenced by factors beyond their control. This nuanced approach is particularly relevant in today’s society, where we are grappling with issues of tribalism, misinformation, and groupthink.

If the book has any limitations, it’s that it can be emotionally draining to read at times. The subject matter is difficult and disturbing, and Layton’s raw honesty and vulnerability can be overwhelming.

However, this is also what makes the book so powerful and compelling. Overall, I highly recommend Seductive Poison for anyone interested in true crime, cults, or social psychology.

It’s an important and unforgettable book that sheds light on a dark chapter in our history and has relevance for our present and future. I give it five stars out of five.

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