Waco: David Koresh, the Branch Davidians, and a Legacy of Rage

Jeff Guinn (Manson; The Road to Jonestown) is a meticulous researcher with the exceptional writing skills to gather those details into riveting works of narrative nonfiction. With Waco: David Koresh, the Branch Davidians, and a Legacy of Rage, Guinn first touches down on the tragic February date in 1993 when federal agents began a seven-week siege on the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Tex., before stepping back to the 19th-century roots of the religious sect, to chart its progress toward the charismatic leadership of one Vernon Wayne Howell, also known as David Koresh.

The catalysts for the standoff at Waco are varied and complex, which is where Guinn's sober attention to detail becomes invaluable to readers. The U.S. government had amassed numerous indictments against Koresh and his followers, including an illegal stockpile of automatic weapons and an ongoing series of sex crimes. The bureaus involved, however, may have been hungry for a win in the public eye, especially the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms), whose largely good reputation plummeted after a violent shootout at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, the previous year. Guinn also makes clear that crucial to this mix is the Branch Davidian preoccupation with the End of Days, particularly their faith that their own deaths would not be permanent once the Lamb of God returned.

With copious citations regarding his interviews with those involved and access to documentation as well as secondary sources, Guinn brings necessary clarity to a horrifically explosive situation--one still reverberating throughout the country 30 years later. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness

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