Marked for Death: My War with Jim Jones the Devil of Jonestown

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9781511757430: Marked for Death: My War with Jim Jones the Devil of Jonestown
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Marked for Death is a memoir of my becoming involved with a devil, being marked for death by that devil, being at war with that devil, and surviving that devil upon his unleashing--in the name of "love"--terror and death. It is a first-hand account of my experiences as his attorney, enemy, and postmortem target. It is also a modern, tribal version of an age-old story: "Power tends to corrupt," said Lord Acton, "and absolute power corrupts absolutely." The journey began in Redwood Valley, California, in 1970, when I self-recruited into a utopian movement called Peoples Temple, in order to pursue a Biblical ethic: “And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.” The leader of this utopian movement was James Warren Jones. On November 18, 1977, I testified in court and went to war against Jones. By then, he had moved to Guyana, South America, to a place called Jonestown. I turned on Jones because I'd learned he was denigrating to a five-year-old child, John Victor Stoen then in Jonestown, his mother, Grace. Even though I believed then that Jones was the biological father, and had promised to protect his paternal access, he was violating the moral law to "honor thy mother," and superseded my promise. In December 1977, I came to realize that I was the biological father of the precious John Victor. During that one-year war for John Victor, I made two trips to the then “wired” country of Guyana, and in California I braced, when the doorbell rang, for a pistol blast to the chest. Finally, that journey took on a petrifying turn. On November 18, 1978, in the name of “love,” Jim Jones, in Jonestown, became the Orwellian devil and went for the kill. He killed 907 of his people by cyanide, and orchestrated the deaths, by gunfire at the nearby airstrip, of five other innocents including US Congressman Leo Ryan. Among those he took out by the poison was six-year-old John Victor Stoen. Structurally, this book traces the “development” of Jim Jones, as I experienced it from 1967 through 1978, through thirteen stages. There are three possible explanations as to the character of Jim Jones on November 18, 1978. The first is that he was a good man who snapped. The second is that he was a sociopath—someone without a conscience, someone willing to do anything at all. The third, which I have come to accept, is that he fell into a more foreboding psychological category: malignant narcissist —someone who seeks to kill for non-biological reasons. Someone who is, in fact, a devil. On November 18, 1978, the day he died, Jim Jones exhorted vengeance on me, and prophesied, in the alternative, that I would destroy myself. I have three reasons for writing this book. The first is to present Jim Jones as a case study as to how leaders become corrupted by absolute power, how they use charisma and demagogic oratory to acquire that power, and how people lose critical resistance. The second reason is to give supporting evidence for Dr. M. Scott Peck’s position that evil people can be dealt with only by “raw power.” Jones's use of systematic mind control in the encampment to get otherwise decent people to be willing to kill innocents, and his follow-up orchestration of terror to impel them to do it at the airstrip, may be a modern template. It is my hope that governments will learn to wisely use raw power against terrorist leaders, and wisely use psychological power with their followers--so as to save priceless Civilization. My third reason for writing is to give hope to people who, like me, have made huge mistakes in their lives. Recovery is possible. After all of my unbelievable mistakes, it is a miracle that I should now find myself alive, sane, and vital. It is unquestionably due to something outside my control.

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About the Author:

Timothy Oliver Stoen is a graduate of Stanford Law School. On June 26, 2000, he resumed his career as a California prosecuting attorney. In 2010, Tim was nominated to the California District Attorneys Association as Prosecutor of the Year. In 2014, he was honored as one of the top wildlife prosecutors in the state, at a presentation attended by the governor. On September 16, 1961--one month after the Berlin Wall was built--Tim took photos of border guards in East Berlin, and got arrested. The empty faces of the people led him to view Communism as evil. In October 1965, Tim became a deputy DA for Mendocino County in Ukiah, California. On August 8, 1967, at a hiring interview for a new poverty law program, he met Jim Jones. In 1969 Tim took a poverty law job in a black section of Oakland, California. He defended, in a criminal case, a member of the Black Panther party. After joining Peoples Temple on January 1, 1970, Tim became the attorney for Jim Jones. In June he married 20-year-old Grace Lucy Grech. Their wedding invitation was utopian. On March 2, 1970, Tim became "county counsel" for Mendocino County. In May 1976, he became "special voter fraud prosecutor" for the San Francisco DA's office, and thereafter Head of Special Prosecutions. During 1976 and 1977, Tim defended Jones as he was becoming a "power broker" in San Francisco, winning over Mayor George Moscone, Assemblyman Willie Brown, and columnist Herb Caen. On February 16, 1977, Tim left to go live with his son, John Victor, in Jonestown. On November 18, 1978, Jim Jones exhorted action on Tim and made a prophecy: "Somebody—can they talk to—and I’ve talked to San Francisco—see that Stoen does not get by with this infamy—with this infamy. He has done the thing he wanted to do: have us destroyed. "We will win. We win when we go down. Tim Stoen has nobody else to hate. He has nobody else to hate. Then he’ll destroy himself. I’m speaking here not as, uh, the administrator. I’m speaking as a prophet today." As for vengeance, Jones's loyalists falsely charged that Tim had manipulated the 1975 mayoral election. Although cleared by the California Attorney General, the public stigma remained. As for the prophecy, for nine years after Jonestown, Tim experienced profound grief and guilt. On April 1, 1988, he found relief due, he says, "to something totally outside my control." Tim lives in Mendocino, California, with his Swedish wife, Kersti ("Shesti"). It is the happiest of marriages.

Review:

"Stoen's deeply moving memoir."--Publishers Weekly.

"Buy the Book: The Man Jim Jones Hated Most Speaks. . . . The fascinating book reads, like accounts of the demise of Jonestown itself, as unbelievable but true."--Daniel J. Flynn, The American Spectator. .

"A true heartfelt confession that reads like a John Grisham thriller."--Brian McDonough, Writer News.

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