Raven by Tim Reiterman Review

Raven book cover

People ask me what my favorite books are, and I have a hard time discussing it. The reason being is because I have read a LOT of books. It’s what I do. I read so much, it’s insane. In the past years I have battled depression, and when I was my most depressed I read one hell of a book that still stays with me today. That book is “Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People” by Tim Reiterman. This is a book that one reviewer said was, “ok if you like thick books”. That made me mad. Yes, this is a 688-page book, and it is very detailed, a full account of what most people have forgotten about. Jim Jones and religious movements should get more attention, because it happens more often than people are willing to admit.

Woa! Sorry to stop your flow of reading. I wanted to interject and say that this is an older review. I know, old content isn’t always great. However, if you’re reading this, just know that this is a review that I wrote after reading the book in 2018. I’m working on 2019’s reviews, and will post them as I can, but this is from my archives. Sorry to break up the flow again, just continue reading, and please try the fish! I mean, buy the book.

This book is an interesting one, in terms of research. Time Reiterman does a lot of research and references so much it’s insane. The reason why this book is so thick is because the authors have worked very hard to read and reference documents, audio commentary, interviews, and so much more. If nothing else, you’re going to find that this book is absolutely detailed, leaving nothing behind. This includes the early life of Jim Jones, his education, his passions, and upbringing. There is no stone left unturned here, and that really got me hooked. Jones’ early life is so interesting, and things get even better over time.

When I was born, this book won the Thomas Thompson PEN Award for nonfiction. Rightfully so, this is a definitive book about a situation that most people have forgotten. I think that “Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People” by Tim Reiterman is a stellar read, and one of the best books about religion that I’ve ever been able to consume. I couldn’t put this down. I forgot about my depression for a week or two as I plowed through this book and couldn’t put it down. I loved it.

If you have a heart in your body, you are going to shed tears when you read this book. There is so much here to focus on. Jones isn’t evil at first glance. He goes out of his way to help people, and to make them feel included. This is the type of charisma that you don’t usually get from religious leaders. He actually represents Christianity better than most. He goes off the rails, no doubt, but it didn’t start that way. He had this notion that he wanted to help, and at all costs. But as power is given, he becomes corrupt, and it becomes insane. What hurts the most is the accounts of survivors, which absolutely changes everything. You weep for them in your heart, and your soul gets punched because this is a reality that is so hard to swallow. It’s fascinating, and it hurts, because churches abuse today and no one talks about it.

I’m giving this book a 5 out of 5. This is one of the best books I’ve ever read, because it’s drenched in reality. This is a reality based book that has epic storytelling, research, and length. Nothing is left out from the story, and it feels like a documentary series that lasts several episodes. Jim Jones is an iconic character, and all too real. It’s sad that 900 people lost their lives, but you don’t get there right away. People think that it’s so easy to just walk away, but it’s not. This story gives you depth, it gives you ideas as to what it is like to feel conviction, stand in religion and get caught up in the wrong things. It’s powerful.

You can pick up “Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People” by Tim Reiterman by clicking here, and ordering it from Amazon.com

One Reply to “Raven by Tim Reiterman Review”

  1. I agree. Doesn’t matter how old this book is, it’s great! Not even particularly well written-I kept wanting to edit it- nevertheless, it is clearly the seminal, definitive, most thorough, and best researched book on Jones. Reiterman was one of the first to investigate PT, and he also visited Jonestown w Congressman Ryan. He was one of those at the attacked and injured at the Pt Kaituma airstrip in Nov 78. Personally, I give more credence to PT lawyer Mark Lane than Reiterman does (he clearly can’t stand Lane, and has more respect for PT’s other lawyer, Charles Garry.) Having met both of them in 1976–i had to spend the day w Charles Garry and show him around the UMich campus. I was (and remain) more impressed by Lane. Garry was creepy, a dirty old man type who tried to grope my innocent 19 yr old self. By notable contrast, Lane was appropriate, straightforward and normal. I liked Lane’s book on Jonestown too. In addition, as an atty (as I am) he FAR better understood the idiotic “affidavit” written by idiot PT lawyer and co-conspirator (if u ask me) Tim Stoen regarding the paternity of John Victor Stoen, whose custody dispute really precipitated Ryan’s visit and the subsequent massacre. A fascinating and cautionary tale..with many still unsolved Qs… Who killed Jones? Who killed Annie? Did Annie really write her own suicide note? Who was still there shooting after the massacre? There were shots and voices heard by escapee Stanley Clayton when he crept back into Jonestown to retrieve his passport… What info still remains classified? Who was the guy on the plane, reported by a military officer, who was guarding documents when the US finally picked up the remains? Has all the $ really been recovered? If offshore accounts are usually identified ONLY by a series of numbers, and NOT by name? Where are PT members now? (Are they Scientologists, a remarkably similar organization that should ALSO be investigated?) And as an atty, I will NEVER EVER understand why Stoen was not disbarred!! IT WAS STOEN who LEGALLY ADVISED Jones to evade US legal process in the Stoen custody dispute by whisking the child out-of-country, to Guyana, a country with no extradition compact w the US. It was STOEN who ADVISED Jones to take kid to Guyana to avoid the long arm of the law. He then changes his pathetic little mind and has the freaking audacity to start an international incident (trying to get the kid BACK, after CHOOSING to leave him in Guyana!) resulting in the deaths of 900 plus people. All over Stoens kid, and Stoens legal advice, and Stoens idiocy- yet he gets to return to US AND continue to practice law??? HE was the one wh adviced PT to do all the fake affidavits (with illegal) notarizations… UNBELIEVABLE that Stoen was not disbarred. Of all the actors in this sick event, Stoen makes me sickest- sicker even than Jones, BC Stoen was VERY bright and very well educated! HE WENT TO STANFORD for God’s sake!! No excuse for Stoen, the whole mess can be laid at his feet! HE was telling Jones what to do ALL ALONG..,
    Jeff Guinns new book is great too, better written, and less hostile than Reiterman’s- understandable lol- after all, Jones did try to get him killed….

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