Undaunted: Surviving Jonestown, Summoning Courage, And Fighting Back

An inspiring and powerful memoir of surviving the Jonestown massacre and becoming a fearless voice against injustice and inequality by California congresswoman Jackie Speier.

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Jackie Speier was twenty-eight when she joined Congressman Leo Ryan’s delegation to rescue defectors from cult leader Jim Jones’s Peoples Temple in Jonestown, Guyana. Ryan was killed on the airstrip tarmac. Jackie was shot five times at point-blank range. While recovering from what would become one of the most harrowing tragedies in recent history, Jackie had to choose: Would she become a victim or a fighter? The choice to survive against unfathomable odds empowered her with a resolve to become a vocal proponent for human rights.

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From the formative nightmare that radically molded her perspective and instincts to the devastating personal and professional challenges that would follow, Undaunted reveals the perseverance of a determined force in American politics. Deeply rooted in Jackie’s experiences as a widow, a mother, a congresswoman, and a fighter, hers is a story of true resilience, one that will inspire other women to draw strength from adversity in order to do what is right—no matter the challenges ahead.

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Product Details

Jackie Speier is a California congresswoman. She is a recognized champion of women’s rights, privacy, and consumer safety—as well as an avowed opponent of government inefficiency and waste. In 2012, she was named to Newsweek’s list of 150 “Fearless Women” in the world and is included in the 2018 “Politico 50” list of top influencers transforming American politics. She is coauthor of This Is Not the Life I Ordered. Jackie received a BA in political science from the University of California at Davis, and a JD from UC Hastings College of the Law.

Along with her husband, Barry Dennis; her children, Jackson and Stephanie; and Buddy, their yellow Lab, she is a proud fan of the San Francisco Giants and the Golden State Warriors. To learn more about Jackie, visit www.speier.house.gov/about.

Table of Contents

Prologue vii

Chapter 1 The Early Years 1

Chapter 2 Becoming Jackie 19

Chapter 3 Ryan Girl 35

Chapter 4 Guyana 53

Chapter 5 Recovery and Renewal 75

Chapter 6 Love and Politics 97

Chapter 7 Endings and Beginnings 119

Chapter 8 When One Door Closes 137

Chapter 9 Capitol Hill 153

Chapter 10 Shattering Silence 169

Acknowledgments 179

Index 183

About the Author 199

Editorial Reviews

Few people embody resilience like Jackie Speier. She faced unthinkable trauma with courage—and came through it with an unshakable sense of purpose. Undaunted is a remarkable story of survival and strength.” —Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and founder of LeanIn.org and OptionB.org

“Jackie Speier embodies courage in every sense of the word. No matter the challenges that lay before her, she never stops putting her country and her constituents first. In Congress, I was proud to call Jackie my colleague—and I am even more proud to call her my friend. Jackie’s story of survival, hard work, and public service will be an inspiration for all who read it.” — Gabrielle Giffords, former congresswoman

“Jackie Speier’s life has been nothing short of harrowing and triumphant. Undaunted will move women to persist and have their voices heard in government. It will inspire young women to be our future leaders who serve with conviction and compassion.” —Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club

“Jackie Speier has lived an incredible life and has passionately dedicated much of it to public service. Undaunted is honest, eye-opening, and truly inspiring.” —Congressman John Lewis, civil rights leader

“Once you open this, don’t have anything planned…Compelling.” —Dr. Phil McGraw

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