Mass suicide as a revolutionary act? An explosion in Siberia the size of 5,000 atomic bombs? These little-known, interesting events make history a lot more engaging.
Interesting Events: The Jonestown Massacre, 1978
Perhaps one of the most disturbing events in modern history, the Jonestown Massacre was the site of the largest recorded mass suicide and the the point of origin for the phrase “drinking the kool-aid”.
On November 18, 1978, over 900 people from the settlement of Jonestown, Guyana, willingly died from cyanide poisoning.
The settlement was established by Jim Jones, a communist who founded his own church – the People’s Temple – in 1950. Jonestown was meant to be a utopia for its citizens, but as so often is the case, fell far short of its idyllic goals.
Jonestown was a cesspool for illness, hard labor, overcrowded housing and food shortages. In 1978, Congressman Leo Ryan visited Jonestown as part of an investigation, but he and several members of his party died in a shooting at an airstrip outside of Jonestown.
Jones grew paranoid after the assassination, and gathered the congregation to inform them that they were no longer safe from the US government. Jones told his congregation that the only way to escape from their clutches was to commit a “revolutionary act” of suicide.
Over 900 people took part. Jonestown residents infused grape flavored Flavor-Aid with cyanide and Valium, administering it to children through syringes. According to reports, 918 people died, though a few did survive.
Interesting Events: Tunguska Explosion, 1908
On June 30, 1908, an explosion that was equal to more than 2,000 atomic bombs, estimated to have the effects of a 5.0 magnitude earthquake, and was as hot and bright as the sun shook the wilderness of Tunguska, Siberia. Millions of trees fell and dust from the explosion lit up the night sky, all of which was able to be seen as far away as London.
To this date, nobody is quite sure what caused the event. Witnesses claim that a fireball descended from the sky to cause the devastation, though some scientists believe that a meteor exploded just above the ground.
Some wilder theories posit that a UFO crashed into Earth, that it was all Nikola Tesla’s fault, and even that a black hole touched the Earth.