This is one of those books that is a true crime and a true tragedy, both at the same time. We all vaguely remember the story that the media put in front of us. A family of white separatist lawbreakers huddled up on a mountain stood off against the FBI. Memories blur for most of us. Before reading this book I remembered that some of them were shot. I remembered there being some horrible mistakes on the part of the federal authorities as well.
Reading this book however brought clarity to all of this. In these times where we find ourselves where labels like “white separatists” are tossed about on the news so liberally, it is important to go back and study Ruby Ridge.
Jess Walter did an outstanding job of laying out the facts to process this seemingly innocent crime that escalated to cold-blooded murder. The author does an outstanding job of cutting through the myths around this story and dealing with the people and what occurred. It is no small task, given that the federal accounts do not even agree with each other.
Randy Weaver was and is his own man. He did commit some crimes. He did nothing that warranted what happened to him and his family however. This is a story about the government living up to its own darkest ideals. The author gives the appropriate trail of breadcrumbs to lead the reader up the trail where what should have been a routine criminal prosecution turned into butchery. When you frame this against the events in Waco against the Branch Davidians and Timothy McVeigh’s bombing of the Oklahoma Federal Office Building; you find yourself as a reader asking yourself, “could this happen again?”
Ruby Ridge (the book) is a cautionary tale for all of us in these politically charged times where the rights of individuals are clashing with political correctness. I found the book made me sit and think about current affairs, yet clearly it was written years before our current climate. Any book that make you think, that compels you to contemplate the role of your government is destined to be a good book.
I’m glad I waited to read it – and moreover, I’m glad I finally did.