In the tradition of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood and Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song, the story of David Koresh, the FBI and the tragedy at Waco – a book for everyone fascinated by true crime, conspiracy theory, and American extremity.
The assault by federal agents on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, in 1993, in which 86 people died, has become a founding myth of the extreme wing of American conservatism, invoked by militiamen, gun rights advocates and the alt-right.
The leader of the evangelical sect at Waco, an extreme form of Seventh-Day Adventism, was Vernon Howell, a charismatic chancer and former victim of sexual abuse who called himself David Koresh. He himself became a sexual predator on a large scale, exploiting many of the women in his compound. He was also a compelling preacher and interpreter of the Bible, notably the Book of Revelation, and was obsessed with the coming of the Apocalypse. The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms duly obliged, with tragic results.
Koresh is Stephan Talty's extraordinary, meticulous narration of this event, in all its squalor, strangeness and delirium. Talty doesn't downplay the madness of the cult, but he is humanely sympathetic to Koresh and his followers and is also highly critical of the ATF and FBI, who were spoiling for a violent showdown, and explains why the siege has become so important to those who loathe the state.
'Gripping... A valuable recounting of a lurid and little-known episode in American history' Washington Post.
'Part Holocaust history, part detective case, part spy operation, The Good Assassin is an enthralling book... Stephan Talty paints vivid, often chilling, portraits of its vengeful hero, Mossad agent Jacob Medad' Neal Bascomb.
'Compelling... Talty remains true to his technique, delivering thoroughly researched, engrossing non-fiction in a thriller-like narrative style' Kirkus.
'Talty captures the chilling realities of bloody battlefields, tense war rooms and besieged London... Elegantly crafted' Wall Street Journal.
'Thrilling... An extraordinary crime story with a genuine American hero too long forgotten' Dallas Morning News