We are introduced early in the book to the standoff at Ruby Ridge, a 1992 gunfight between FBI agents and United States marshals and a heavily armed family on an isolated homestead. How does this incident cast a shadow over the Westover parents and children, and the survivalism that characterizes their upbringing?

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The deadly stand-off between the Weaver family and the authorities had a profound impact on the Westovers. For one thing, the deaths of Randy Weaver's wife and son during the stand-off further inflamed Mr. Westover's already delirious levels of paranoia. Tara distinctly remembers her dad saying that it could just...

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The deadly stand-off between the Weaver family and the authorities had a profound impact on the Westovers. For one thing, the deaths of Randy Weaver's wife and son during the stand-off further inflamed Mr. Westover's already delirious levels of paranoia. Tara distinctly remembers her dad saying that it could just as easily have been the Westovers who'd been killed.

In the aftermath of the Ruby Ridge tragedy, Gene's more convinced than ever before that the government's out to get his family and anyone else who resists their "brainwashing" by refusing to send their children to public schools. This helps to explain why Mr. Westover refused to send his own children to school and why the family lived such an isolated existence in their remote patch of Idaho.

For thirteen long years, Tara had always assumed that the Feds came for Randy Weaver because they wanted to force him to send his children to school. But as Tara reads the full details of the story for the first time, she realizes that the dispute between the authorities and the Weavers had nothing to do with homeschooling. Randy Weaver was part of the Aryan Nation, a notorious white supremacist organization, and had illegally sold two sawn-off shotguns to an undercover agent at a meeting of the organization.

Tara now realizes that the Ruby Ridge story became her dad's story—became, in fact, the Westover family's story. In his feverish, paranoid imagination, Gene Westover figured that if the government was after Randy Weaver, then it must also be after him. This deranged paranoia caused him to isolate his family from the outside world even more, thus depriving his children of an education.

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