Jonestown Survivor

An Insider’s Look

by Laura Johnston Kohl



Book Details

Language :
Publication Date : 3/22/2010

Format : Hardcover
Dimensions : 6x9
Page Count : 200
ISBN : 9781450220965
Format : Softcover
Dimensions : 6x9
Page Count : 200
ISBN : 9781450220941
Format : E-Book
Dimensions : N/A
Page Count : 200
ISBN : 9781450220958

About the Book

Laura Johnston Kohl was a teen activist working to integrate public facilities in the Washington, D.C., area. She actively fought for civil rights and free speech, and against the Vietnam War throughout the 1960s. After trying to effect change single-handedly, she found she needed more hands. She joined Peoples Temple in 1970, living and working in the progressive religious movement in both California and Guyana. A fluke saved her from the mass murders and suicides on November 18, 1978, when 913 of her beloved friends died in Jonestown.

Soon after this, Synanon, a residential community, helped her gradually affirm life. In 1991, she got to work, finished her studies, and became a public school teacher. On the 20th anniversary of the deaths in Jonestown, she looked up fellow survivors of the Jonestown tragedy and they have worked to put the jigsaw puzzle together that was Peoples Temple. Her perspective has evolved as new facts have cleared up mysteries and she has had time to reflect. Her mission continues to be to acknowledge, write about, and speak about why the members joined Peoples Temple, why they went to Guyana, and who they were. She lives with her family in San Diego. Laura appreciates feedback about her book, and especially likes clarifying information or answering questions that come up as you read. Contact her through her new website: www.

About the Author

Laura Johnston Kohl - author of JONESTOWN SURVIVOR: An Insider's Look When 914 members of Peoples Temple and four visiting Americans died in Guyana, South America on November 18, 1978, Laura Johnston Kohl survived. She was one of 87 who lived through the trauma. After participating with the Black Panthers, and attending Woodstock, Laura moved into Peoples Temple in California in 1970, and was an active and enthusiastic member until the day it ended. She moved to Guyana in March 1977. She frequently traveled between Georgetown and Jonestown, a 24-hour boat ride, but moved into Jonestown in October 1978. Laura’s survival was a fluke. It took twenty years for Laura to rebuild her life and have the determination to research this tragedy. The first ten years were spent in Synanon. Then, she reunited with many of the other survivors to put the pieces together and to get some understanding. After ten years she wrote her autobiography. Today, Laura is a bilingual teacher, a member of ReadLocal San Diego, on the Speakers’ Bureau of The Jonestown Institute, a bilingual international speaker, a Quaker, and a Board Member of the Communal Studies Association. She is interviewed often by national and international media, most recently the “Voice of Russia” radio program. Contact to schedule talks. Laura’s presentations cover such topics and issues as: • Surviving tragedy and survivors’ guilt • Reflections on Peoples Temple • History - 1960s, 1970s and 1980s • New Religious Movement • Group (cult) dynamics – red flags • Human Rights and activism • Synanon – a residential community where Laura lived from 1980-1990 • Group psychology • Communal studies • Bilingual education (Spanish-English) • The cult of personality in leaders • Quaker activism (Laura is a Quaker) • The Occupy Movement and activism Laura’s recent presentations include: • York College of Pennsylvania • San Diego City College • Mexico City Book Talk in English/Spanish • Penn State U - Political Science, History, and Sociology classes • Grossmont College • Ricki Lake Show • Puget Sound University • Western. Washington University • Libraries throughout California • Co-housing groups in California • Visalia, Lake Co., Santa Rosa and San Diego Meetings of Society of Friends • KPOO Radio Interview, San Francisco • Books, Inc. San Francisco • San Diego Branch Library Book Talks • Numerous Local Author events • Cal State San Marcos History Classes • Miramar Coll. Women’s History Month • Communal Studies Assoc. Conferences at the Oneida Community and Old Harmony, and many others. JONESTOWN SURVIVOR: An Insider’s Look is available in eBook and print at, iUniverse, Barnes & Noble. Visit her website: Listen to JONESTOWN SURVIVOR PODCAST at Photos at (Peoples Temple PhotoGallery). She can be reached at: Her new website is