Rushed to press to catch the wave of summer congressional hearings
on the Waco debacle, this account by former Texas Monthly senior
editor Reavis may raise a few hackles both within the Beltway and
beyond. In the course of his reporting, Reavis gained access to a
large trove of classified documents: 17,800 pages of transcripts of
telephone conversations between government agents and Branch
Davidians at Mt. Carmel. These documents, along with government
reports, a study of Branch Davidian theology, and interviews with
survivors of Waco as well as rivals of Koresh's, lead the author to
a surprising conclusion. Contributing to the post-Waco trend
charging that we too often scorn religious sects as cults, Reavis
writes: "The people who had lived at Mt. Carmel were more akin to
the Shakers and to the Oneida community - parts of today's
Americana - than to the members of the Charles Manson cult."
This is the story the daily press didn't give us, the definitive
book about what happened at Mt. Carmel, near Waco, Texas, examined
from both sides - the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF)
and the FBI on one hand, and David Koresh and his followers on the
other. Dick J. Reavis points out that the government had little
reason to investigate Koresh and even less to raid the compound at
Mt. Carmel. The government lied to the public about most of what
happened - about who fired the first shots, about drug allegations,
about child abuse. The FBI was duplicitous and negligent in gassing
Mt. Carmel - and that alone could have started the fire that killed
seventy-six people. Drawing on interviews with survivors of
Koresh's movement (which dates back to 1935, long before Koresh was
born), on published accounts, on trial transcripts, on esoteric
religious tracts and audiotapes that tell us who Koresh was and why
people followed him, and most of all on secret documents that the
government has not released to the public yet, Reavis has uncovered
the real story from beginning to end, including the trial that
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