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Waco and Ruby Ridge Revenged

by Mark S. Hamm

Pub Date: April 11th, 1997
ISBN: 1-55553-300-0

 An academic's speculative take on the April 19, 1995, blast that leveled the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people (including 19 children) and injuring over 500 more. Drawing largely on contemporary news accounts of the tragedy and its aftermath, Hamm (Criminology/Indiana State Univ.) offers a plausible if not original explanation of what triggered the terrorist act. Noting that the FBI's use of deadly force to end standoffs at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Tex., and Randy Weaver's backwoods cabin atop Idaho's Ruby Ridge outraged right-wing radicals, he goes on to review the outrÇ beliefs espoused by extremists of this ilk (militias, skinheads, survivalists, Identity Christians, et al.). Turning next to the defendants in the Oklahoma case, the author profiles Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols in considerable detail. A decorated veteran of the Desert Storm campaign, McVeigh met Nichols while both were serving in the army. A disaffected loner who embraced the hate-filled antigovernment canons of the ultra-right, McVeigh apparently dominated his comrade-in-arms. By Hamm's account, Ruby Ridge and Waco gave the ex-soldier (made periodically delusional by an addiction to crystal methamphetamine) the push needed to target and destroy the Murrah Building with a homemade truck bomb. While the author skillfully marshals a wealth of circumstantial evidence suggesting the accused's guilt, he never quite manages to connect the solitary McVeigh (other than philosophically) with organized groups of potentially violent dissidents. Also troublesome is the verve and frequency with which the author potshots the FBI and even moderately conservative Republicans (whom he persists in lumping with die-hard reactionaries). Serviceable as a reconstruction of a national disaster, but it fails to substantiate the conspiracy theories that inform it. (illustrations, not seen)