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A Journey to Waco
Autobiography of a Branch Davidian
Clive Doyle -
Catherine Wessinger and Matthew D. Wittmer
Nearly twenty years after they happened, the ATF and FBI assaults on the Branch Davidian residence near Waco, Texas remain the most deadly law enforcement action on American soil. The raid by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agents on February 28, 1993, which resulted in the deaths of four ATF agents and six Branch Davidians, precipitated a 51-day siege conducted by the FBI. The FBI tank and gas assault on the residence at Mount Carmel Center on April 19 culminated in a fire that killed 53 adults and 23 children, with only nine survivors. In
A Journey to Waco
, survivor Clive Doyle not only takes readers inside the tragic fire and its aftermath, but he also tells the larger story of how and why he joined the Branch Davidians, how the Branch Davidian community developed, and the status of survivors.
While the media and official reports painted one picture of the Branch Davidians and the two assaults,
A Journey to Waco
shares a much more personal account of the ATF raid, the siege, and the final assault that details events unreported by the media.
A Journey to Waco
presents what the Branch Davidians believed and introduces readers to the community’s members, including David Koresh.
A Journey to Waco
is a personal account of one man’s journey with the Branch Davidians, through the tragic fire, and beyond.
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4422-0885-8 • Hardback • August 2012 •
978-1-4422-0887-2 • eBook • July 2012 •
Biography & Autobiography / Religious
Religion / Cults
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is one of nine survivors of the Mount Carmel fire near Waco, Texas, which killed seventy-six Branch Davidians of all ages.
is the Rev. H. James Yamauchi, S.J. Professor of the History of Religions at Loyola University New Orleans.
Matthew D. Wittmer
is an artist and librarian specializing in the collection and preservation of primary sources about the Branch Davidians.
A Short Introduction to the Branch Davidians and Clive Doyle – Catherine Wessinger
CHAPTER ONE – Telling My Story and the Story of the Branch Davidians
CHAPTER TWO – From Australia to Texas—Meeting the Branch Davidians
CHAPTER THREE – Living with the Branch Davidians
CHAPTER FOUR – What the Branch Davidians Believe
CHAPTER FIVE – The Mount Carmel Conflict—The ATF Raid, the 51-day Siege, and the FBI Assault
CHAPTER SIX – Jail, Two Trials, and Changes at Mount Carmel
CHAPTER SEVEN – Survivors of the Siege—Where We Are Today
APPENDIX - Reconstructing Mount Carmel Center: Proportion and Memory –
Matthew D. Wittmer
Right or wrong, for many people the word
has become shorthand for
. In April 1993, an FBI assault on the Branch Davidian residence in Waco, Texas, resulted in a fire that took 76 lives (nearly half of them children). Doyle, this book’s primary author, is a survivor of the events at Waco—the fire was the final incident in nearly two months of conflict between the Branch Davidians and the FBI—but the book isn’t, as many might expect, a condemnation of the FBI and the American government. Of course, there is criticism and a certain amount of finger-pointing, but, mainly, this is the author’s personal story—a story of his faith, his chosen way of life, and his relationship with David Koresh, the community’s charismatic and controversial leader. The events at Waco, even though they took place two decades ago, haven’t faded into memory yet, and the book should see immediate interest from readers seeking a better understanding of what happened and why.
This gem of a book helps us understand a nightmare. It keeps alive painful memories that we might wish to forget, but that we would forget out our peril. . . . This carefully constructed work is a must-read work for students of the Branch Davidians.
Nova Religio: The Journal Of Alternative And Emergent Religions
Clive Doyle’s description of the events during the 51-day siege in Waco and its aftermath is both gripping and tragic. Catherine Wessinger fills in the facts of the story with scrupulous notes, while Matthew Wittmer brings Mount Carmel vividly to life with graphic reconstructions of the site. Yet it is Doyle’s unassuming voice that carries the story through, from his youth in Australia, to his participation in the Branch Davidians, to his actions on the final day.
Rebecca Moore, San Diego State University
The federal assault on the Branch Davidian community will forever remain an ignominious moment in American religious history. This book offers a personal account of Branch Davidian life and the tragic demise of the Branch Davidian community by one of its important surviving members. Clive Doyle's witness, as told to Catherine Wessinger and Matthew Wittmer, is a welcome and necessary corrective to official legitimations of those fateful events.
David G. Bromley, Virginia Commonwealth University
The Branch Davidians have been demonized in the popular mind as dangerous, or at least deluded, fanatics. Clive Doyle now shows us just how wrong that view is. Telling his story, he shows just how human and normal his fellow members were, and how they were victimized by overly zealous law-enforcement agents.
Timothy Miller, University of Kansas
As one of the few remaining survivors of the catastrophic federal siege of the Branch Davidian sect in 1993, Clive Doyle provides us with a humanizing and sometimes humorous biographical narrative, as well as a deeply compelling story of those who lived and died at Mt. Carmel. Catherine Wessinger and Matthew Wittmer are to be commended for giving voice to a key figure in this tragic incident. It provides a starkly different portrait of the Branch Davidians than the self-serving version offered up by government officials in the days and weeks after the worst federal law enforcement disaster in U.S. history.
Stuart A. Wright, Lamar University
This is not an academic book, but it is a book that academics and anyone, who has ever
wondered how the terrible tragedy at Waco in 1993 could have come about, should read. The book does not answer this question, but it does give a remarkably gripping account of how one of the 'survivors' came to join David Koresh's Branch Davidians, what their life was like, what Koresh taught, and how the siege and fire were experienced from inside the compound.
Eileen Barker, London School of Economics
The autobiography offers an authentic and fresh look into the history and culture of one of the most important new religious movements in America of the late 20
century. It also provides a compelling insider’s account of the events that led to the demise of the group, which is very different than the official federal reports. Doyle’s memories are more than worth reading. They are instructive and enlightening.
Catherine Wessinger has written an excellent introduction, in which she has placed Clive Doyle’s life and autobiography within its larger historical setting, offering a short but critical and articulate summary of the developments and belief system of the Branch Davidians and the events, in 1993, in which the group’s home was destroyed and many of its members killed. It is one of the more interesting autobiographies of its kind. I highly recommend this book to everyone interested in the history of new religious movements, their communal lives and the manner they are received by the larger society.
Yaakov Ariel, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Clive Doyle’s haunting story is an unparalleled contribution to our understanding of a religious group and the tragic events that have come to define it. With straightforward style and accessible prose, Doyle offers a courageous and moving account of the Branch Davidian community, especially its final weeks under siege, as only a firsthand observer can express. Supplementary material compiled by editors Wessinger and Wittmer enhances this text for academically-minded readers.
Marie W. Dallam, University of Oklahoma
An excellent and compelling portrait of a new religious movement through change, evolution, crisis, and rebuilding. Through Doyle's recollection, we finally hear the voices of Branch Davidians. Highly recommended.
Douglas E. Cowan, Renison University College at University of Waterloo
Clive Doyle's engaging and gripping account of his life as a Branch Davidian follower of David Koresh, long before, as well as after, the Waco tragedy in 1993 has given us all an invaluable record of the way things truly were. Stereotypical labels such as 'cult,' with their associated charges of 'brainwashing' and 'deception,' suddenly melt away and we are invited to get to know what really lay at the heart of the this remarkable religious community and their conflict with the U.S. government authorities. The book is moving, thoroughly human, and informative at every turn. Catherine Wessinger and Matthew D. Wittmer have done us an incalculable service in producing this finely written and well documented volume. Finally, at last, the real story of 'Waco' is emerging through their work and that of others who have devoted years of careful study to the subject.
James D. Tabor, chair, Department of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Charlotte; author of The Jesus Dynasty
Catherine Wessinger has done more than anyone else to document the lives of the surviving Branch Davidians and to enrich and complicate the historical record of a group that has frequently been vilified and widely misunderstood. That is all the more important since, as Clive Doyle poignantly notes in this oral history, the first generation of David Koresh's students is rapidly dwindling. In direct and plainspoken prose Doyle describes how he came to be associated with the dissident Seventh-Day Adventist traditions of the Davidians and Branch Davidians, his long tenure at the Mount Carmel Center under several different leaders, his understanding of David Koresh's distinctive theology, his anguished memories of the original BATF raid and the fifty-one day siege conducted by the FBI in 1993, and his reactions to the subsequent trials, lawsuits, and efforts of the survivors to reconstruct their broken lives. This is essential reading for anyone interested in the Branch Davidians and in the interactions of sectarian groups with American society.
Eugene V. Gallagher, Rosemary Park Professor of Religious Studies, Connecticut College
Provides an insider’s view of David Koresh and the Branch Davidians
Takes readers inside the ATF raid that killed four ATF agents and six Branch Davidians, and the FBI siege and assault that culminated in a massive fire that killed seventy-six Branch Davidians of all ages
Presents details about the ATF raid and FBI assault unreported by the media
Tells the story of the Branch Davidians, the siege, and its aftermath through the eyes of one of the few survivors of the 1993 fire
Provides extensive additional information about the 1993 events in detailed endnotes
Features more than 20 black and white images of the Branch Davidians, the Mount Carmel residence, and the fire
Includes definitive maps of Mount Carmel Center and surrounding area and floor plans of the residence that correct errors in previously published diagrams
Gives essential background information on Branch Davidian history and theology
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