Over 900 people died.
Jones had some attractive ideas- he was an integrationist and a Christian socialist- but the seeds of weird were there from the start. A childhood friend told a story of him killing a cat so he could give it a proper funeral. He was a blandly handsome man who dyed his hair- and wound up looking like a cross between Timothy Dalton and Colonel Gadaffi. He needed his people as much as they needed him and got to fuck the prettier ones- male and female- as he chose. He kept them docile with hard work, sleep deprivation and constant propaganda. He couldn't bear it when any of them left him. By the end- when he was running a police state at Jonestown- he had his recorded voice- high on drugs and booze and paranoia- bursting out of loud-speakers in the middle of the night . His followers were idealists, communards, nice, good people; they wanted to build a better world. And narrowly they did. Jonestown- hacked from the jungle, self-sustaining- was a miracle as much as it was a nightmare.
I came away feeling that if I could only understand what had happened with Jones and his followers I'd have a handle on the whole human condition.