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Ashes of Waco: An Investigation Paperback – April 1, 1998
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From the Back Cover
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 followed.
About the Author
DICK J. REAVIS was a 1990 Nieman Fellow in Journalism. He has been a Senior Editor of Texas Monthly, a reporter for the Dallas Observer, and a Business Correspondent for the San Antonio Light, and has written for numerous other publications. He is also the author of several books, including Conversations with Moctezuma and Fodor's Texas. He lives in Dallas. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Perhaps the aspect of this book that I like the most is its even handedness. Many people seem to have a sense that a useful lie is often better than an inconvenient truth. To them making your case is what's important, and getting at the facts is secondary. Dick Reavis clearly rejects this and believes in bringing forth the truth, even when it does not support his own sympathies. I find this very refreshing. He covers both the seamy side of David Koresh, and the evidence of both illegal and immoral activity on the part of the Davidians and of law enforcement officials. Where evidence is inconclusive or conflicts with other evidence he lets us know what evidence there is, and lets us decide.
Perhaps more importantly than the catalog of events this book also gives us a look at the Davidians as people. It tries to tell us who these people were. We are presented information about life in Mt. Carmel, how they lived and how they viewed the world. This is at least as interesting as the presentation of the facts.
I do have some criticisms of this book. For one this book does have a tendency to waste its already too few pages on what amounts to side issues that seem to me irrelevant to an understanding of what happened at Waco. Examples of these include arguments about the constitutionality of gun control, and a digression on other apocalyptic groups with rather tenuous relationships with the events at Waco. Also, I would have liked to see more of the negotiation tapes. Apparently Dick Reavis had access to all of them, but in his book we get only brief glimpses at what was going on in the negotiations.
In all these complaints should be seen as very minor. This is an excellent book and a great summary of the events at Waco, from an author who deserves our thanks for sticking with the story for long enough to get at the facts, and for presenting them to us so clearly and objectively.
I would also recommend looking into the video evidence (FLIR) that shows gunfire from the federal agents.
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The book is, first, well-written for one of its type, with a good, straightforward narrative that doesn't get in the way of the...Read more