25 YEARS LATER, THE CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED SURVIVAL STORY OF WACO,
BY ONE OF ONLY FOUR UNPROSECUTED SURVIVORS, COMES TO TELEVISION
IN A HOTLY ANTICIPATED MINISERIES STARRING
MICHAEL SHANNON AND TAYLOR KITSCH.
Waco: A Survivor’s Story
By David Thibodeau
and Leon Whiteson with Aviva Layton
On sale January 2, 2018
For the first time ever, a survivor of the Waco massacre tells the inside story of Branch Davidians, David Koresh, and what really happened at the religious compound in Texas.
When he first met the man who called himself David Koresh, David Thibodeau was drumming for a rock band that was going nowhere fast. Intrigued and frustrated with a stalled music career, Thibodeau gradually became a follower and moved to the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. He remained there until April 19, 1993, when the compound was stormed and burnt to the ground after a 51-day standoff.
In this book, Thibodeau explores why so many people came to believe that Koresh was divinely inspired. We meet the men, women, and children of Mt. Carmel. We get inside the day-to-day life of the community. Thibodeau is brutally honest about himself, Koresh, and the other members, and the result is a revelatory look at life inside a cult.
But Waco is just as brutally honest when it comes to dissecting the actions of the United States government. Thibodeau marshals an array of evidence, some of it never previously revealed, and proves conclusively that it was our own government that caused the Waco tragedy, including the fires. The result is a memoir that reads like a thriller, with each page taking us closer to the eventual inferno..
Now with a haunting new epilogue, WACO: A SURVIVOR’S STORY (Weinstein Books; on sale March 6, 2018) is the original and most definitive inside account of what happened at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, on April 19, 1993. Only nine people survived the massive conflagration that trapped and killed 74 others—including 21 children—as a result of a mismanaged government raid, and 24-year-old David Thibodeau was one of them. Now, in honor of the 25th anniversary of the tragedy, Thibodeau is releasing his critically acclaimed memoir in ebook, paperback, and audio-book form for the first time.
The highly anticipated six-part miniseries “WACO,” produced by The Weinstein Company and airing on Spike TV, starts this Spring, and is based on the book and Thibodeau’s experience. Michael Shannon and Taylor Kitsch star.
WACO is a tale about the twists of fate—the small encounters that can determine, or ruin, the rest of our lives. When he first met the man who called himself David Koresh, Thibodeau, who had never been religious in the slightest, was drumming for a rock band that was going nowhere fast. With the same straightforward speeches and beguiling charm used by Koresh, Thibodeau explains how he came to believe Koresh was the messiah to lead the community through the seven seals of the apocalypse. He takes an anthropologist’s view of life at Mount Carmel, the Branch Davidian compound nine miles outside Waco where Thibodeau spent two and a half years. We meet the men, women, and children of Mount Carmel—Thibodeau’s wife Michele and adopted daughter Serenity; his best friend Jamie; his rival Mike; his prospective lover Julie; the doubters and the devout; and, of course, David Koresh himself. His account is a reminder of the humanity of those whom the world saw as heathens.
The Mount Carmel Thibodeau describes is a flawed but peaceful community seeking a refuge from religious persecution. But on February 28, 1993, they were attacked by their own government—a government that, Thibodeau’s original research reveals, fabricated criminal charges, blurred civil-military jurisdictions, and flubbed a straightforward undercover operation, all in an effort to flex its muscles for the cameras they had invited to tag along. But instead of succumbing to a scripted show of force, the Branch Davidians fought back and began a 51-day standoff.
Above all, Thibodeau relates the agonizing sounds, the stomach-turning smells, and the horrifying sights of the final raid, on April 19, in which a mysterious fire burned the sprawling complex to the ground. Using never-before-heard eyewitness accounts, Thibodeau attempts to put to bed forever the question of who lit the match that sent 74 people to their graves. New for this edition, in a haunting new epilogue, Thibodeau reflects on the past 25 years, remembers his slain family, and describes his time touring the set of the upcoming miniseries, starring Michael Shannon and Taylor Kitsch, that will painstakingly recreate the disaster. The six-part television event will air on Spike TV in spring 2018.
Amid the charred rubble of his home and his life, Thibodeau objectively scrutinizes the tragedy that riveted a nation and, without any of the zealotry of a religious fanatic, tries to make sense of who was to blame. In the process, WACO recounts the suspense of the siege and the ferocity of the firefight as if it were a work of fiction—made even more terrifying by the knowledge that this was real life.
. . . . . . . .
David Thibodeau was a young Los Angeles musician when a chance meeting with the charismatic David Koresh led to his involvement with the Branch Davidian community outside Waco, Texas. He is one of only four Branch Davidians who survived the Waco massacre who was not sentenced to prison. Over the 25 years since, Thibodeau has lived in Los Angeles, Austin, and Bangor, Maine, where he currently continues his life as a drummer and entrepreneur.
Coauthor Leon Whiteson was a Zimbabwean architect-turned-critic and novelist. He died in 2013 at age 82. Whiteson is survived by his wife—author Aviva Layton—who has written the updated epilogue with David Thibodeau for this new edition.
Aviva Layton earned a BA from Sydney University, an MA from University of Montreal, and a PhD from York University, Toronto. She is the author of a novel, a biography, and several award-winning children’s books and is now a full-time literary editor.
WACO: A SURVIVOR’S STORY
By David Thibodeau and Leon Whiteson with Aviva Layton
Weinstein Books | March 6, 2018
Paperback: $16.99 | ISBN: 9781602865730
eBook: $12.99 | ASIN: B073P4ZYKW
PRAISE FOR WACO
“An extraordinary account of one of the most shameful episodes in recent American
history. I wish that everyone in the country could read this book. …it gives us
the poignant and terrible human story behind the events at Waco.”
—Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States
“If the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) badly mishandled the events at Ruby Ridge in 1992, its handling of the Waco incident the next year was even worse… This book gives a rare glimpse of life at Mount Carmel and an account of how that attack contrasts with the ‘official’ government version. With the renewed interest in this siege, this book is recommended for public libraries.”
—School Library Journal
“This narrative defies many of our media-mediated preconceptions of Koresh’s followers.”
“Thibodeau, one of only four Branch Davidians to live through the Waco disaster
and not be sentenced to jail, has produced a surprisingly balanced and honest
account of his time as a Branch Davidian. Neither sensationalist nor defensive,
this will make satisfying reading for anyone interested in the April 1993 tragedy.”