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review 2017-06-06 23:15
The Phenomenon ★★★☆☆
The Phenomenon: Pressure, the Yips, and the Pitch that Changed My Life - Rick Ankiel,Tim Brown

I was not a fan of Ankiel, as he didn’t play on my favorite team or even in the same league, at the time he was most famous/infamous. So I was aware of his name, and had vaguely heard of him in connection with the yips, but knew nothing of his story. I found his memoir interesting, and his determination to return to baseball admirable. Even more admirable is his decision to give back to the sport and to players who are suffering a similar experience, in the hopes that, if they can’t overcome the anxiety and have a successful career in baseball, then at least they can move on to other things with courage and pride and still lead a happy and productive life.

 

Audiobook, purchased via Audible. The author reads his own work, and does as well as can be expected from someone who is not a professional voice actor.

 

EDIT: Here's an amazing video that shows his disastrous playoff outing when he suddenly lost the ability to throw strikes from 60 feet, to his return 9 years later as a centerfielder with an amazing ability to throw out runners at the plate from 300 feet away. And yet, he was later booed because the yips still kept him from even being able to throw a ceremonial first pitch on a little league field. 

 

https://youtu.be/lpR-ysdP1mk 

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review 2017-05-26 11:29
The Road to Jonestown ★★★★★
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple - Jeff Guinn

This was a thorough examination of the evolution of The Peoples Temple from its socialist ideals and Christian roots to a cult willing and able to commit the 1978 atrocity of mass suicide and murder of over 900 men, women, and children. It examines as much as can be known of Jim Jones, the Temple’s founder and ultimately deranged leader. It provides a study of several members, both survivors and deceased. From this, the author lays bare the mechanism by which a group of committed idealists and vulnerable believers can be led down the path to deranged behavior, enthusiastically participating in atrocities committed upon themselves and others, giving up all control to a single man in spite of clear evidence that he is a charlatan.

 

Guinn does this with remarkably little judgement. He provides facts and observations and conclusions, from a variety of points of view, and pays the reader the compliment of allowing them to judge or not. As a result, the story can be a little dry at times, but in this case I much prefer that to a sensationalized faction.

 

I was surprised by two things. One: The similarity between the techniques used by Jones and Temple leaders to subjugate their followers and those common in domestic violence situations, where outsiders say, “I don’t understand why anyone would put up with that, why didn’t they leave?”

 

The other: The Peoples Temple, at least in the beginning, performed great good. They turned lives around, provided a haven for the disenfranchised, and made material inroads in systemic societal racism. But because the Temple idealists who were committed to these goals were willing to overlook the warning signs of Jones’ unethical and immoral behaviors, feeling that the ends justified the means, they were really as much to blame for that final massacre as Jones himself. They were willing to make excuses for him, to enable him, in order to use him and his power to achieve their own ends. First small violations of ethics, then another, then another, then another, until any means necessary seemed natural and acceptable. Let that be a lesson to us all.

 

Audiobook, purchased via Audible. Competently read by Jeff Newbern.

 

Previous Updates:

5/20/17 http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1564040/reading-progress-update-i-ve-read-6

5/20/17 http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1564153/the-road-to-jonestown-16

5/21/17 http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1564258/the-road-to-jonestown-20

5/21/17 http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1564338/the-road-to-jonestown-21

5/22/17 http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1564529/the-road-to-jonestown-34

5/25/17 http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1565457/the-road-to-jonestown-59

5/25/17 http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1565592/the-road-to-jonestown-70

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text 2017-05-26 03:24
The Road to Jonestown 70%
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple - Jeff Guinn

 

Temple bookkeeper Terri Buford estimated that the Temple's foreign accounts totaled about $8 million, but in fact, the total was around $30 million. Yet, in several San Francisco services, Jones asked that everyone donate their wristwatches to The Cause. These were in high demand for resale in Guyana, where, if an immediate amount of additional money wasn't received, the Jonestown project might very well fail. Every cent counts, Jones thundered at his followers, upbraiding them and sending collection plates around for an extra turn or two if the half-dozen offerings regularly taken at each Temple meeting failed to produce satisfactory sums. They had no idea of the vast fortune their church had already amassed, or why, no matter how much they gave at Temple services, it was never enough to please their pastor. 

 

And that's on top of the church's required tithing of 25% of each member's weekly paycheck.  

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text 2017-05-25 12:35
The Road to Jonestown 59%
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple - Jeff Guinn

OMG at this point he's just making crazy shit up and everyone just believes him, no matter how patently false his claims are. 

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text 2017-05-22 15:21
The Road to Jonestown: 34%
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple - Jeff Guinn

Jones still believed in the virtues of Socialism and was dedicated to lifting up the oppressed, but he would no longer have the capacity to learn from mistakes, because he didn't believe that, as a superior incarnation, he could make any. In the future, anything that didn't work exactly according to Jones' desires would be the fault of flawed followers or implacable enemies, and with each passing day, Jones became more convinced that he had enemies everywhere.

 

And here's where he tips over the edge, from simply building an empire in service of his ideological goals, to becoming God himself. And while many of his closest followers don't believe in his divinity, they are still willing to look the other way, because they have completely bought into situational ethics, where the ends justify the means. Who cares if their leader is an amoral lunatic who is presenting himself as infallible God and sees enemies everywhere, if he can help achieve your ideological goals? 

 

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