WACO by Jeff Guinn

Waco: David Koresh, the Branch Davidians, and A Legacy of RageWaco: David Koresh, the Branch Davidians, and A Legacy of Rage by Jeff Guinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I learned a lot from this book. Most surprising to me was that David Koresh and his followers really believed that he was the literal messiah anointed by God to bring about the End Times in a holy confrontation with the forces of Babylon (which meant everyone who wasn’t them). Further they believed they would be transformed upon death into some sort of angels shepherding 144000 chosen to populate the sin-free heaven on Earth. Before this, I thought it was just a scam by Koresh to bilk a bunch of idiots and have sex with lots of young girls and women. He did those things, but apparently truly believed he was The One. This being so, the eventual destruction of the Waco compound and death of his flock was inevitable and brought about by him. Natural selection in action.

Sure, the author likes to play gotcha with the government and points out the many egregious planning and decision errors made by ATF, but it’s clear to me from this that by the time the FBI was brought in to clean up the mess, it was irretrievable. Koresh and his followers were given weeks to leave peacefully and safely and chose not to. Koresh repeatedly promised to come out once his demands were met and lied every time. He and his remaining members were bound and determined to make it to their heavenly reward and they got their wish. I don’t know whether Koresh ordered the fires to be set or it was accidental, but he got what he wanted and the FBI ended the siege. It was a win-win. The government bashing in the book is just an opportunist’s way of profiting off the deaths of others. He’s done the same repeatedly with other cults.

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