Jonestown Survivor Remembers Massacre 37 Years Ago

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Teri Buford O’Shea’s memoir ‘Jonestown Lullaby’ remembers lost, unveils story of survival

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Teri Buford O'Shea was the last person to escape Peoples Temple, three weeks before the Jonestown massacre killed over 900 people in November 1978. Now, she’s speaking about the tragedy and her own survival in her book “Jonestown Lullaby: Poems and Pictures” (published by iUniverse).

Written over the years in journals and on scraps of paper, hidden away and later found by O’Shea’s daughter, “Jonestown Lullaby” brings to light years worth of personal, revealing poetry and vivid photographs of life in the Peoples Temple community. O’Shea, a personal confidant to leader Jim Jones for seven years, brings readers a look into Jonestown with poetic passion, recounting stories of innocent lives lost and remembering those who helped her live again after her flight.

“My story starts at the beginning of my life, not Jonestown,” says O’Shea. “My life didn’t begin with Jonestown, and it will not end with it. The book is a testament and a tribute to survivors from all walks of life.”

When O’Shea began writing poetry at the age of 7, she never imagined her talent would lead her to compose pieces reflecting tragedy, fear and survival. In addition to losing her community, O’Shea struggled with the guilt of survival, living in hiding for years following the tragic event.

Turning to her writing for help during her journey back to a healthy life, she says poetry is how she becomes one with her emotions. Providing a rare account of post-traumatic stress, O’Shea’s poems reflect her nightmares of the past 30 years, her moment of terror at gunpoint when she refused to tell Jones she loved him, and also about her journey toward piecing her life back together.

“I am not the sum of my traumas,” says O’Shea. “I have a spirit that lives. Many books are read and cherished because they reflect a certain time or event in history. I hope this book will be one of them.”

“Jonestown Lullaby”
By Teri Buford O'Shea
Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 124 pages | ISBN 9781462037377
E-Book | 124 pages | ISBN 9781462037384
Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

About the Author
Teri Buford O’Shea left home at age 19 and found herself in California, soon living on the streets. She joined the Peoples Temple, which offered her a home, a job and assistance with college expenses. O’Shea remained in the Peoples Temple until she was 26, fleeing three weeks before the infamous Jonestown massacre.

O’Shea holds a degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley. She now works as a benefits consultant serving those with a wide range of physical and emotional disabilities, and continues to speak about her experience and survival of Jonestown.

iUniverse is an Author Solutions, LLC, supported self-publishing services provider that partners with Berrett-Koehler to offer Open Book Editions and True Directions – in partnership with Tarcher – a division of Penguin Books. Additionally, iUniverse maintains a strategic alliance with leading Canadian Book retailer Indigo Chapters. To recognize excellence in publishing, iUniverse offers select authors the Star Award, Reader’s Choice, and Editor’s Choice designations based on specific criteria. To learn more about iUniverse’s publishing services, please visit or call 1-800-AUTHORS. For the latest, follow @iuniverse on Twitter and “Like” us on Facebook at

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