Seductive Poison

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Seductive Poison
Paperback Edition
Author Deborah Layton
Country United States, Italy, France, Australia, Germany, Thailand, UK
Language English
Subject Destructive cults,
mass suicide
Publisher Doubleday
Publication date
2014 Random House Audio; 1998 Anchor~Doubleday
Media type Print
Pages 368
ISBN 0-385-48984-6
OCLC 43461666

Seductive Poison: A Jonestown Survivor's Story of Life and Death in the Peoples Temple is a first-hand account of the incidents surrounding Peoples Temple, written by survivor Deborah Layton, a high-level member of the Peoples Temple until her escape from the encampment. The first edition of the book was published by Anchor~Doubleday in hardcover on November 3, 1998, and the second edition was published in paperback on November 9, 1999. In 2014, Random House Audio made Seductive Poison into an audio-book read by the author and narrator, Kathe Mazur. Charles Krause, the young Washington Post journalist who accompanied Congressman Leo Ryan into Jonestown and was injured at the airstrip, reads his Foreword.


After a rebellious two years in the Berkeley school system, Deborah was sent by her parents to Ackworth, a Quaker boarding school in the north of England to finish high school.[1] Upon her return from England, at just eighteen years old, she joined the Peoples Temple and moved into their campus dormitory in Northern California. It was at this point that her life dramatically changed. As a trusted aide to Jim Jones, she became embroiled in the upper-level workings of the Peoples Temple, both in California and Guyana. Four weeks after a harrowing narrow escape, Layton submitted an affidavit about the compound in Guyana, which helped convince United States Congressman Leo Ryan to make his journey there.[2] Deborah’s affidavit became front page news across the country. Six months later and just four days before the tragedy, Deborah was in Washington D.C. giving testimony before State Department officials requesting help for the 900 people held against their will in Jim Jones' encampment in Guyana. Her older brother was the only one ever prosecuted for the murders of the congressional team by Temple members.[3] After over twenty years in prison, Larry Layton was released on parole in 2002, largely due to the testimony of Vernon Gosney, one of the few survivors of the massacre and the Federal Chief Judge, the Honorable Robert F. Peckham.[4]

The book is published in Italy, France, Australia, Germany, Thailand and United Kingdom.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jonestown-an American family's 2d holocaust, Chicago Tribune, December 10, 1978
  3. ^ Indiana Jones' Temple of Doom, Bettina Drew, February 1, 1999., The Nation.
  4. ^ “Larry Layton and Peoples Temple: Twenty-Five Years Later” by Frank Bell, “Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple,” sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies at San Diego State University

External links[edit]