Waco: David Koresh, the Branch Davidians, and A Legacy of Rage
“Impressively researched and written with storytelling verve” (The Wall Street Journal), this is the definitive account of the disastrous siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, featuring never-before-seen documents, photographs, and interviews, from former investigative reporter Jeff Guinn, bestselling author of Manson and The Road to Jonestown.
For the first time in thirty years, more than a dozen former ATF agents who participated in the initial February 28, 1993, Waco raid speak on the record about the poor decisions of their commanders that led to this deadly confrontation. The revelations in this book include why the FBI chose to end the siege with the use of CS gas; how both ATF and FBI officials tried and failed to cover up their agencies’ mistakes; where David Koresh plagiarized his infamous prophecies; and direct links between the Branch Davidian tragedy and the modern militia movement in America. Notorious conspiracist Alex Jones is a part of the Waco story. So much is new and stunning.
Guinn puts you alongside the ATF agents as they embarked on the disastrous initial assault, unaware that the Davidians knew they were coming and were armed and prepared to resist. His you-are-there narrative continues to the final assault and its momentous consequences. Drawing on this new information, including several eyewitness accounts, Guinn again does what he did with his bestselling books about Charles Manson and Jim Jones, revealing “gripping” (Houston Chronicle) new details about a story that we thought we knew.
Praise for Waco: David Koresh, the Branch Davidians, and A Legacy of Rage
"Gripping. . . . [Guinn] tells stories we thought we knew and makes us realize we really didn’t. He takes devils of the popular imagination and carefully explains that they’re actually human — a fact that makes them even more terrifying."
— Chris Vognar
“Impressively researched and written with storytelling verve.”
— Barton Swaim
"Thoroughly researched, the many lingering debates explored with the most rigor. [Guinn] He begins with what may be the best account of the ATF raid on Mount Carmel yet written, stocked with new details from interviews with veteran agents and written with clarity and drama."
— Eric Benson
"Guinn, whose reporting draws heavily on interviews with ATF agents present at Waco, is sympathetic to the agency’s rank-and-file. . . . But overall, [Waco] sketch[es] a portrait of an operation mishandled at almost every level of government."
— Quinta Jurecic
“Riveting. . . . As the author did in previous reports on Charles Manson and Jonestown, Guinn dives deeply into his subject to present a vivid combination of well-researched facts, personal testimonials, and controversial perspectives. A convincing and chilling coda to this investigation is the correlations Guinn draws among the Davidian compound raid, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“Guinn focuses on the standoff and the myriad bad decisions by the ATF and the FBI, capably tracing a throughline to the increase in anti-government hate groups. . . . Extremely well done and thought-provoking.”
"[A] comprehensive and judicious account. . . . Scrupulous and frequently enthralling, this is a sobering account of a tragedy woven into the fabric of modern America."
— Publishers Weekly