Primary Source Analysis: A Place Called Waco


The Mount Carmel Center in flames during the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) assault on April 19, 1993.

Primary Source Citation:

Thibodeau, David, & Leon Whiteson. A Place Called Waco: A Survivors Story. New York: Harper Collins Publishing, 1999. Print

1.) Briefly describe the source or sources.

The source is a book written by one of only nine survivors of the burning of Branch Davidian Complex in Waco Texas after a 51 day standoff against agencies of The Federal Government. This book details the journey of David Thibodeau from obscurity into the annals of one of the most significant events in recent history.

2.) When was the source written?

The book was first published in 1999.

3.) Who composed the source?

The author is David Thibodeau, who survived, working along with Leon Whiteson.

4.) Provide information about the author.

David Thibodeau was born and raised in Maine.  He is one of only four Branch Davidians who survived the massacre who was not sentenced to jail.  He is reported to currently live in Austin, Texas with his wife and child.  Leon Whiteson is a writer based in Los Angeles.  He is also the author of A Garden Story.

5.) Under what conditions was the source composed?

This source was written as one of the first first-hand accounts of the events that took place during the 51 day siege in Waco Texas told entirely from the point-of-view of someone whom was there.  this was published six years after these events had taken place.

6.) How will you use this source for your paper?

I will use this source to illustrate how there is more than one side to this story.  To attempt to illustrate how the perception of something and the reality of it don’t always go hand in hand.  Also I shall attempt to illustrate how much of this story remains wrapped and shrouded in myth and mystery and the challenges that it provides.

7.) What are some of the problems that you forsee in using this source for your paper?

I think a major problem would be the time lapse between this event and now given that only 20 years have passed and whether or not the there is enough historical distance for such a landmark event in recent history.  Also the fact that there seems to be more questions than answers relating to the specifics of what happened and how we interpret its meaning.

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