cover image Koresh: The True Story of David Koresh and the Tragedy at Waco

Koresh: The True Story of David Koresh and the Tragedy at Waco

Stephan Talty. Mariner, $32.99 (464p) ISBN 978-0-358-58128-4

In this searing account, journalist Talty (The Black Hand) paints a detailed portrait of David Koresh, the leader of the Branch Davidian cult. From his unwed teen mother’s religious obsession to his stepfather’s physical and mental abuse, Koresh, born Vernon Wayne Howell in 1959, struggled through life, exhibiting both mental and learning disabilities. Searching for love and purpose through religion and sex, he stumbled into the Branch Davidian sect in Waco, Tex., and worked his way from being something of a rather pathetic lost sheep to an egotistical prophet spouting delusions about angels and God. As his power grew, so did his derangement until he demanded more and more from his followers; he sexually abused underage girls and denied adults food and the right to marry. By 1990, some had broken free and left the cult, while Koresh armed the true believers that remained at his Mount Carmel compound. Talty makes a solid case that Koresh alternated between delusions of grandeur and possibly knowing he was insane, and that the tragic outcome of the government standoff with the Davidians in 1993 was aided by the media circus surrounding it and the conflict between the ATF and the FBI. This well-researched and enlightening book is un-put-downable. Agent: Susan Canavan, Waxman Agency. (Apr.)