Waco: A Survivor’s Story

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The fifty-one-day standoff between federal authorities and Branch Davidians in Waco, TX in 1993 is etched into my memory. I was a junior in high school, consumed by the news of the world, so I watched the nightly news coverage and read every newspaper article covering the story. None of it prepared me for reading Waco: A Survivor’s Story.

I had grown up believing federal agents had attempted to liberate mostly women and children being held against their will by a madman, David Koresh. I was certain I understood the nuances of the governmental decision gone wrong, a raid that ended in the senseless deaths of 80 members of the Mount Carmel community. Reading Thibodeau’s book, I came to realize how much I did not know.

Thibodeau, himself a young man of 22 when he came to Mount Carmel, was a lost soul. Admittedly impressionable, lacking a real passion in life outside of his dreams to be a rock drummer, when he met Koresh and the people who followed Koresh, he found himself drawn to the Biblical simplicity of their lifestyle. Never particularly religious before, something in the calm and surety of the group gave Thibodeau focus.

What follows in Waco: A Survivor’s Story is the firsthand perspective of being in the community, what they hoped to do, who they wanted to be. I was raised in the church, so some of the teachings referenced are familiar to me. But others, like the forced celibacy of all men so that Koresh could bed and procreate with all women, including girls as young as 12, has neither Biblical precedent nor moral justification. I found myself feeling sorry for Thibodeau that he could be so naively led into a mentally unstable man’s vision of divinity, while at the same time sympathetic to all the Mount Carmel members who found something to believe in in a world that had seemingly little to offer them.

Waco: A Survivor’s Story is worth the read if you are at all interested in hearing why one man chose to follow Koresh, but be warned: it isn’t for the faint of heart.


Reviewed By:

Author David Thibodeau • Leon Whiteson • Aviva Layton, Contributor
Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 408 pages
Publisher Weinstein Books
Publish Date 2018-Jan-02
ISBN 9781602865730
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue May 2018
Category History
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