Every Knee Shall Bow: The Truth and Tragedy of Ruby Ridge and the Randy Weaver Family


What went wrong at Ruby Ridge?

Why was Randy Weaver's son fatally shot in the back?

How could the FBI justify shooting a woman as she held her infant child?

Why were the Weavers given a $3.1 million settlement by the U.S. Government?

Was there an FBI cover-up and how high did it go?

Every Knee Shall Bow ...

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What went wrong at Ruby Ridge?

Why was Randy Weaver's son fatally shot in the back?

How could the FBI justify shooting a woman as she held her infant child?

Why were the Weavers given a $3.1 million settlement by the U.S. Government?

Was there an FBI cover-up and how high did it go?

Every Knee Shall Bow answers the critical questions that cut to the heart of the most explosive issues in the United States today.

The Weaver Family took to the woods to escape what they believed was a sinful world on the brink of Armageddon. But Randy Weaver's indictment on a firearms violation escalated into a deadly shoot out at his northern Idaho cabin. Before it was over, a federal marshal, Weaver's wife and his only son were dead.

Now, featuring exclusive interviews with key figures on both sides, Pulitzer Prize finalist Jess Walter objectively reconstructs all the riveting events in this controversial case.

The Weaver family took to the woods to escape what they believed was a sinful world on the brink of Armageddon. But Weaver's indictment on a firearms violation escalated into a deadly shoot-out at his Northern Idaho cabin. Before it was over, a federal marshall, Weaver's wife, and his only son were dead. Now, featuring exclusive interviews with key figures on both sides, Pulitzer finalist Walter objectively reconstructs all the riviting events on this controversial case.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
“A stunning job of reporting.”
Dennis Prager
“A brilliant, cautionary tale of the dangers of conspiracy thinking—by people and by governments.”
Washington Times
“The most comprehensive, even-handed and best written account of Ruby Ridge currently in print.”
Salt Lake City Tribune
"Jess Walter's careful chronicle of what happened in and around that cabin in...northern Idaho...is remarkably complete."
The Portland Oregonian
"Tightly reported...an even-handed...excellent, minute-by-minute account."
People magazine
"A meticulously researched account of the Ruby Ridge incident."
Walter, whose coverage of the Randy Weaver case helped Spokane's Spokesman-Review earn a Pulitzer Prize nomination, takes readers on a harrowing voyage from Randy and Vicki Weaver's childhoods to the shootout that left Vicki, the couple's 14-year-old son, their dog, and a deputy US marshall dead. He draws on interviews with Weaver family members for a minute-by-minute account of the tragic siege as well as Weaver's and his accomplice Harris' trials. Includes b&w photos. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061011313
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/28/1996
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 5.06 (w) x 7.96 (h) x 1.23 (d)

Meet the Author

Jess Walter

Jess Walter is the author of six novels, including the bestsellers Beautiful Ruins and The Financial Lives of the Poets, the National Book Award finalist The Zero, and Citizen Vince, the winner of the Edgar Award for best novel. His short fiction has appeared in Harper's, McSweeney's, and Playboy, as well as The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. He lives in his hometown of Spokane, Washington.


Jess Walter is the author of four novels -- The Zero, a finalist for the 2006 National Book Award, Citizen Vince, winner of the 2005 Edgar Award for best novel, Land of the Blind and Over Tumbled Graves, a 2001 New York Times notable book -- as well as the nonfiction book Every Knee Shall Bow(rereleased as Ruby Ridge), a finalist for the PEN Center West literary nonfiction award in 1996.

A career journalist, Walter also writes short stories, essays and screenplays. He was the co-author of Christopher Darden's 1996 bestseller In Contempt. His work has appeared in Details, Playboy, Newsweek, the Washington Post and the Boston Globe.

His books have been published in sixteen countries and fourteen languages. He lives with his wife Anne and children, Brooklyn, Ava and Alec in Spokane, Washington.

Biography courtesy of the author's official web site.

Good To Know

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Walter:

"I am one of the organizers of the largest outdoor basketball tournament in the world."

"I have been in one (1) independent movie for which I grew one (1) righteous mustache."

"I come from a family of failed cattle ranchers."

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    1. Hometown:
      Spokane, Washington
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 20, 1965
    2. Place of Birth:
      Spokane, Washington
    1. Education:
      B.A., Eastern Washington University, 1987
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Sara Weaver snapped awake, felt for her rifle and hoped she'd at least get the chance to shoot one of the bastards before they killed her. She had no idea whether it was day or night. The Bible was open on the floor where she'd left it and she quickly found her place and resumed her prayers to Yahweh, the stern and unbending God of the Old Testament. If she'd slept at all, it was only for a few minutes; that's all she allowed herself. Had it been three days, now? Four? A noise brought her eyes up to the windows, covered with the denim curtains that she and her mother had hung to keep the enemy from seeing them. Still, a few shards of unnatural light cut through the room and lit the cabin like constant dusk. Sara looked across the beamed living room at her friend Kevin Harris, who'd been like a brother to her for half of her sixteen years. He was still coughing blood. Sara'd given him herbs, tea, and cayenne pepper. She'd dressed and cleaned his gunshot chest and arm, but he was still too pale and had lost too much blood. He would probably die.

Her father was in better shape, awake, but staring off toward the kitchen. His gunshot wound was healing, but he seemed distant and tired, and Sara was afraid that he blamed himself for what had happened. It wasn't his fault. She knew he just wanted to protect the family. But there was no way she was going to let him feel so bad that he would surrender to the Beast. Her ten-year-old sister Rachel was asleep at last, curled up on the floor next to her. Sara was glad for that. The baby was asleep too and had finally stopped crying "Mama."

The voice startled Sara as it blew through the cabin like a December gust. There had been so manynoises: tanks and trucks and helicopters echoing through the canyon. But it was the steady voice of the negotiator that was making her crazy—so calm on that PA system somewhere outside the cabin. "Pick up the phone," he kept saying, as if they were insane. "We've thrown a phone onto the porch. Pick it up." He sounded Mexican to her. Wouldn't that just figure; the Babylonian One World Government sends a Mexican to talk a white separatist out of his cabin. They will do anything to break us, she thought. Yesterday, he had called himself Fred. A Mexican negotiator named Fred talking on a PA system every fifteen minutes, trying to get them to step outside. The FBI had made it perfectly clear what happened when the family stepped outside. Agents blasted away at them. It was ridiculous and horrifying at the same time. Rachel stirred as the one-sided conversation began again, and she cried as the cruel, taunting words settled on the cabin.

"Good morning, Mrs. Weaver," the voice called. "We had pancakes this morning. And what did you have for breakfast? Why don't you send the children out for some pancakes, Mrs. Weaver."

Why were they doing this? Sara stared at her mother's body covered with an old army blanket and pushed underneath the kitchen table. Soon, Sara would have to crawl through her mother's blood to the cupboards to get canned apricots and tuna fish to feed their family. As the voice tormented them, Sara's anger fled, and she prayed for her mother's strength. Her mom had practically built this cabin, pieced together the walls from mill scraps, made the quilts they were huddled upon on the floor, canned the food that was keeping them alive, and shaped the cupboards where Sara had to get the food.

She couldn't let her dad go in there. If he moved in front of a window, they'd kill him, finish what they'd started outside the cabin. Sara sat up, her long, black hair in a ponytail, her eyes tender and puffy from crying, her lips drawn tight. It had been so long since she'd spoken in more than a whisper, and now she wanted to scream. She knew she should go to the kitchen, but she didn't want to get off the floor.

Beneath her—where an open basement was framed with thick timbers—Sara listened for the agents of Babylon, who had crawled under the cabin with their goddamn listening devices, trying to get any edge. She thought she heard their muffled whispers and wondered for a moment if they were really there. She wished she could yell at them or pound on the floor or something. She was just too tired. Too tired to crawl through the blood into the kitchen. Too tired to shield her dad when he stood in front of the windows. Too tired to rock the baby to sleep, to tend to Kevin's wound. For the first time, her fatigue seemed stronger than her anger, and she wished Yashua the Messiah would just come and end this suffering.

And so she prayed to Yahweh as her parents had taught, thanking Him for His blessings and asking for deliverance. Lying on the floor with what was left of her family, Sara Weaver looked across the long room at the bullet hole in the kitchen window and she prayed that they not be picked off one at a time any more, that they be taken together to Paradise. She prayed that the evil agents of ZOG just get it over with. She prayed that they firebomb the house.

Along the denim curtains, across a narrow gully on an adjacent hillside, the barrel of a bolt-action, high-powered rifle traced the breadth of the cabin, looking for any movement. Behind the gun, a compact, muscular sniper watched the windows through a magnified, ten-power scope. Nothing. Lon Horiuchi knelt camouflaged and still in the low underbrush and rocky ground, separated from the cabin by two hundred yards. He ran his scope along the house again, from the covered back deck, which leaned out over a steep hillside, along the plywood walls of the house. It had been two days since he'd fired any shots, two days since he'd seen the target flinch and he'd called into the radio that he thought he had hit one of them.

There were ten other snipers on the hillside across from the cabin, another twenty agents crawling over the knob where the house itself sat. First light settled evenly on the grayish brown cabin and glinted off its small offset windows as the sniper watched for any movement.

Behind him, the hill broke at a severe pitch, covered by clinging mountain grass and leaning timber, cut occasionally by a logging road or a plunging stream, down the slope a mile, to a meadow where deputy U.S. Marshal Dave Hunt paced and smoked, killing another Marlboro 100 with a few grave steps. He paused in the middle of a meadow packed with sagging army tents as though a dull green circus had come to town. A couple hundred camouflaged federal agents and state cops filed in and out of the tents, catching some sleep before going back to the line or to the sniper positions. Any minute, Hunt expected more white separatists to break into the meadow from the woods and begin firing. It was like a war zone. Slope-shouldered and frowning, Hunt watched a handful of busy men across the meadow, FBI brass and investigators who climbed the steps to the trailer command post. None of them was interested in Dave Hunt's opinion.

It wasn't right that he was on the outside now. He knew this case. He knew Randy Weaver and his family like no one else in law enforcement. For eighteen frustrating months, he'd butted up against their religious fervor, their government paranoia and their unbridled stubbornness. He knew their beliefs and the language they used. He knew the weapons their children carried. He knew Randy was a coward and a straw man and that if they wanted to end this thing, they had to negotiate with his wife, Vicki. He knew that unless they convinced Vicki to give up the kids, this thing might only get worse.

He watched trucks of all kinds—moving, army, pickups and motor homes—beat the mountain field into dust. They broke through the forest one at a time on that narrow dirt road and began looking for parking in the perpendicular rows, which by now contained more than 100 vehicles: cars, trucks, Humvees, armored personnel carriers, and bulldozers lined the edges of the tent city. More agents were showing up all the time to secure the mountain and they reported here, to an encampment surrounded so completely by pine-covered ridges that it seemed entirely possible there was an enemy out there.

Doubt broke constantly into Hunt's thoughts. He'd done everything to bring Weaver in, hadn't he? The second-guessing carved away at him until he slid another tan-filtered cigarette into his mouth, lit it, and began pacing again.

He just wanted to get as far away from here as possible, to grab his wife and hold her. Soon, he and the other guys would be leaving for the funeral. The shoot-out flashed in his mind like someone flipping through snapshots: the Weaver men stroll down the hill with their rifles. The dog barks, cold at first, as if he'd just caught a whiff of something. The radio squawks, "I think the dog's onto us." And then nothing. For five awful minutes. Nothing. Then a gunshot. Two more. And then bursts of gunfire like a loud shuffling of cards. And Hunt runs panting through the woods. Near the bottom of the hill, another barrage of gunfire drops him to the ground and lands him back in Vietnam, the shots cracking over his head like a round of suppressive fire.

No, he'd done everything possible. That was true enough. This case had gotten out of control because Randy and Vicki Weaver wanted it this way. But Dave Hunt couldn't scare off the self-doubt as he churned up his own dust pacing and smoking in a mountain field that had been nicknamed years earlier Homicide Meadow.Every Knee Shall Bow: The Truth and Tragedy of Ruby Ridge. Copyright © by Jess Walter. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2002

    Fair to All Sides

    The last reviewer seems to want only one side of the story. This is like reading a novel, only its true. It shows the government screwed up but Randy Weaver was to blame too. A great book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2001

    What A hatchet Job !

    This book is an assault on the Weaver family which the author makes clear he detested. There is insult and inuendo in every chapter. He draws conclusions he has no basis for support other than his own prejudice. This somehow passes for journalism I suppose. If this book were written about a racial minority group in America instead of the Weavers it would be called hate speech. If you want a decent book on the subject read 'Ambush At Ruby Ridge'. It is far more factual than this trash Jess Walter wrote.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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