The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

New Must-Read Book: ‘Cult City’

Posted on | October 23, 2018 | Comments Off on New Must-Read Book: ‘Cult City’

Daniel J. Flynn and his new book, ‘Cult City.’

Daniel J. Flynn is one of my favorite authors. His 2008 book, A Conservative History of the American Left, is a classic, and now he’s published an important new history, Cult City: Jim Jones, Harvey Milk, and 10 Days That Shook San Francisco:

I toiled over my sixth book, off and on, for the last decade. . . .
The writing came mostly in my attic. The research primarily took place at the California Historical Society, San Francisco Public Library, and Library of Congress. I interviewed about 30 eyewitnesses to history, including one of three people still with us — and one of just nine total 40 years ago — in Jonestown when the killing began to live to tell the tale, Dan White’s chief of staff who detailed a startling confession of violence that his boss made to him, and former friends and rivals of Harvey Milk who shared his homosexuality but not always a fondness for him. It got really interesting for me. . . .
The basic theme is this: before the poor drank the Kool-Aid in South America, the powerful in San Francisco did. The same people who made Jim Jones unmade him, at least his associations with politicians, journalists, and celebrities. Many took pains to obscure the truth, which helps explain why this book comes out all these years later. The truth is never too late, and, for me at least, was never so interesting.

What was the connection between the Left in San Francisco, including gay-rights radicals like Harvey Milk, and the cult that died in Jonestown? Anyone who lived through the 1970s — I was a sophomore in college the year Jonestown happened — remembers the reckless hedonism of that era. Even though I was in the Deep South, and far from San Francisco, the carnival of drugs, sex and disco was really everywhere then. Count on Daniel Flynn to connect the dots in this cultural pattern.



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