by Kevin Cook
A news-making account of the war between David Koresh's Branch Davidians and the FBI, and how their standoff launched today's militias
In 1993, David Koresh and a band of heavily armed evangelical Christians took on the might of the US government. A two-month siege of their compound in Waco, Texas, ended in a firefight that killed seventy-six, including twenty-five children. America is still picking up the pieces, and we still haven't heard the full story.
Kevin Cook, who revealed the truth behind a mythic, misunderstood murder in his 2014 Kitty Genovese, finally provides the full story of what happened at Waco. He gives readers a taste of Koresh's deadly charisma and takes us behind the scenes at the Branch Davidians' compound, where "the new Christ" turned his followers into servants and sired seventeen children by a dozen "wives." In vivid accounts packed with human drama, Cook harnesses never-reported material to reconstruct the FBI's fifty-one-day siege of the Waco compound in minute-to-minute detail. He sheds new light on the Clinton administration's approval of a lethal governmental assault in a new, definitive account of the firefight that ended so many lives and triggered the rise of today's militia movement. Waco drew the battle lines for American extremists--in Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh's words, "Waco started this war." With help from sources as diverse as Branch Davidian survivors and the FBI's lead negotiator during the siege, Cook draws a straight line from Waco's ashes to the January 6, 2021, riot at the US Capitol and insurrections yet to come.
Unmissable reading for anyone interested in the truth of what happened in Texas three decades ago, Waco Rising is chillingly relevant today. Here is the spark that ignited today's antigovernment militias.
"In describing the standoff with exquisite detail and care, Cook masterfully portrays the scope of the violence and heartbreak on all sides. The author's meticulous history and character portraits also serve as timely reminders of the danger of homegrown militias and the cultlike figures who often lead them. Unfortunately, this material is still fertile ground in America. A thorough, engaging work that reminds us of the humanity behind the tragedy." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Cult leaders are fascinating creatures, not only for their undeniable charisma but also for their powerful hold on their followers and their tendency to self-destruct... In chilling detail, Cook describes Koresh's descent into religious paranoia, putting him on the path that would lead to his confrontation with the FBI." -- Booklist
"[F]ast-paced... Drawing from extensive interviews with surviving group members, Cook is at his strongest when discussing the day-to-day life of the Davidians under their unstable, self-appointed prophet, David Koresh." -- Publishers Weekly
About the Author:
Kevin Cook is the author of more than ten books, including The Burning Blue, Ten Innings at Wrigley, and Kitty Genovese. He has written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, GQ, Smithsonian, and many other publications and has often appeared on CNN, NPR, and Fox News. An Indiana native, he lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.