Cult City

Jim Jones, Harvey Milk, and 10 Days That Shook San Francisco

By Daniel J. Flynn

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“A bold, at times shocking work of revisionist history that challenges what we think we know about both [Jim Jones and Harvey Milk] and the murderous events that brought them to national prominence.” —Rod Dreher, The American Conservative


November 1978. The Reverend Jim Jones, the darling of the San Francisco political establishment, orchestrates the murders and suicides of 918 people at a remote jungle outpost in South America.


Days later, Harvey Milk, one of America’s first openly gay elected officials—and one of Jim Jones’s most vocal supporters—is assassinated in San Francisco’s City Hall.


This horrifying sequence of events shocked the world. Ever since, the lives and deaths of Jim Jones and Harvey Milk have been shrouded in myth. 


This extraordinary book, the product of a decade of research, explodes the myths to reveal shocking truth.



Cult City unravels the mythology surrounding the Jonestown massacre and the Harvey Milk–George Moscone assassinations to reveal the shocking truth that rebuts the narrative that stubbornly remains forty years later. . . . An amazing storyteller blessed with an amazing story.” 
Peter Schweizer, bestselling author of Secret Empires


“A horror story more frightening than any contemporary film . . . This is an extraordinary book.”
San Francisco Review of Books

Cult City

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The untold story of the intersecting lives of the Reverend Jim Jones and Harvey Milk—marking the 40th anniversary of the Jonestown massacre and Milk’s assassination

November 1978. The Reverend Jim Jones, the darling of the San Francisco political establishment, orchestrates the murders and suicides of 918 people at a remote jungle outpost in South America.

Days later, Harvey Milk, one of America’s first openly gay elected officials—and one of Jim Jones’s most vocal supporters—is assassinated in San Francisco’s City Hall.

This horrifying sequence of events shocked the world. Almost immediately, the lives and deaths of Jim Jones and Harvey Milk became shrouded in myth. The distortions and omissions have piled up since.

Now, forty years later, this book corrects the record.

The product of a decade of research, including extensive archival work and dozens of exclusive interviews, Cult City reveals just how confused our understanding has become.

In life, Jim Jones enjoyed the support of prominent politicians and Hollywood stars even as he preached atheism and communism from the pulpit; in death, he transforms into a fringe figure, a “fundamentalist Christian,” and a “fascist.”

In life, Harvey Milk faked hate crimes, outed friends, and falsely claimed that the U.S. Navy dishonorably discharged him over his homosexuality; in death, he is honored in an Oscar-winning movie, with a California state holiday, and with a U.S. Navy ship named for him. His assassin, a blue-collar Democrat who often voted with Milk in support of gay issues, is remembered as a right-winger and a homophobe.

But the story extends far beyond Jones and Milk. Author Daniel J. Flynn vividly portrays the strange intersection of mainstream politics and murderous extremism in 1970s San Francisco—the hangover after the high of the Summer of Love.

In recounting the fascinating, intersecting lives of Jim Jones and Harvey Milk, Cult City tells the story of a great city gone horribly wrong.

Additional Information

Pages 288
Publisher ISI Books
What They're Saying...

“The way history remembers [Jim Jones and Harvey Milk] and the time and place that made them offers a dire warning to us today. Flynn’s new book Cult City is a bold, at times shocking work of revisionist history that challenges what we think we know about both men and the murderous events that brought them to national prominence.”
Rod Dreher, The American Conservative

Cult City unravels the mythology surrounding the Jonestown massacre and the Harvey Milk–George Moscone assassinations to reveal the shocking truth that rebuts the narrative that stubbornly remains forty years later. That narrative cannot withstand this book. Through scores of interviews and archival research, Daniel J. Flynn, an amazing storyteller blessed with an amazing story, exposes the political corruption and media malfeasance that helped to portray one of the world’s great villains as one of San Francisco’s great citizens.” 
Peter Schweizer, bestselling author of Secret Empires

“In this book, very obviously augmented with hours of research and investigation, Daniel [Flynn] presents a horror story more frightening than any contemporary film, and in doing so he brings into focus the real personalities of two men whose names will never be forgotten. One of the many reasons the book is so impressive is Daniel’s writing style. . . . This style of prose and reportage magnetizes the reader, now able to learn facts not legend. . . . This is an extraordinary book, copiously annotated and indexed, is a must read for all caring people. The truth is out and we must cope. Highly Recommended.”
San Francisco Review of Books

“Flynn in Cult City brings to light a kind of secret history of California in the 1970s, showing how modern progressive politics intersected with cults of madness and despair. . . . [He] makes a compelling argument about our faulty historical memory of these events. . . . The history of Jonestown and the public officials complicit in Jones’s rise and fall is apparently still too sensitive to be dealt with honestly. Cult City could change that.”
City Journal

Cult City connects a homicidal socialist who posed as a man of prayer and a gay politician who preyed on teens. They supported each other in San Francisco, but Jones now lives in infamy for his orchestration of 918 suicides and homicides in the South American jungle, while Milk received honors: a California state holiday and a U.S. Navy ship named for him.”
World magazine, in “25 Good History Reads”

“Daniel Flynn blows away some major myths surrounding [Jones and Milk]. . . . For all but the willfully blind, Cult City will an asset of lasting value.”
FrontPage Magazine

“Many misconceptions surround [the Jonestown massacre], but a new account dispels some common myths. Cult leader Jim Jones is often portrayed as having been a normal fundamentalist Christian preacher. But as Daniel Flynn shows in Cult City, Jones believed ‘the Bible is the root of all our problems today,’ and he sought to ‘infiltrate the church’ to spread the communist message.”
The Daily Caller

“A truly remarkable work detailing San Francisco’s descent into multicultural madness in the 1970s.”
American Thinker

“Flynn tackles not one, but two 20th century American historical figures in Cult City. . . . Cult City is not only an eye-opening exposé on Jones and Milk, but on the politicians and Hollywood elites who allied with them and celebrated their ideals and movements.”
The Daily Wire

“A compelling history that looks at two pivotal events of the 1970s . . . Extensively researched and well-cited.”
The Federalist

“In his eye-opening and immensely readable new book Cult City, Daniel J. Flynn reminds us that Jones was less an aberration than the advance guard of the left’s long march through the culture.”
World Net Daily

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