Ray Franz's book is just excellent a must read! Jim Penton does a great job on history of the watchtower.
When there is a major crises in a family, death, divorce or major sickness that usually makes people think of God since they may subconsciously see themselves in that situation or they just wonder if there is anything beyond today's life. Religions or cults which don't differ by much, they really use these opertunities to capture people who are lost and confused. Before you start a study with witnesses read Ray Franz's book. Do some research on the watchtower's deceptive dealings with it's members. At least if you study with the witnesses you will have good questions to ask to which you won't get proper answers but nonsense that these things are old light or that these things are lies brought about by apostates. So before you do have a study do your own research so you know facts for yourselves. All the old Watch Tower publications you can find at:
By the way don't think my post is to discourage you from reading and studying the bible but it's the information you need to know about Watch Tower's leaders and what they don't tell the rank and file. Anyways here are some things you may or may not have known:
Russell taught (not thought as WT makes it sound)
1799 - start of last days
1874 - Christ returned invisibly
1878 - Christ began ruling as king
1914 - end of gentile time (used 606BC as a destruction of Jerusalem and it's temple by Babylon)
Pyramid Of Giza - God's witness in stone which pointed to 1914 and all other datesmentioned above.
Russell died with these beliefs
Rutherford took over and pointed to 1925 as a date more evidents in the bible than 1914
1922 - Rutherford changed Christ's start of ruling to 1914
1925 - Time when Abel, Abraham, Lot, Noah and other faithful bible characters would be resurrected to the earth
1929 - Pyramid of Giza announced to be demonic
1931? - Beth Sarim (House of Princes) was build in San Diego. Rutherford spend much time there and that's where he died. Another bonus of the mansion was the 2 Cadillacs that were used by Rutherford. The mansion was deeded to Abraham, Noah, etc....
1930s - Rutherford changed Christ's return, start of last days to 1914
1939? - Beth Shan (House of Security) build during WW2 and sold soon after Rutherford died. 2 bunkers were discovered on the land by the new owners.
1960s - While Malawi witnesses were killed, raped and beaten for not buying a political card since Watch Tower said no compromise allowed, Mexican witnesses were bribing officials to obtain military service card so they wouldn't have to serve in the army but would be able to obtain passports and because of that were placed on a reserve lists in case of war. Also Mexican Kingdom Halls were called Cultral Halls and witnesses were not allowed to sing songs or say prayers in these halls because they were not registered as a religion but as a cultral group. This happened until 1989 when watch tower officially registered as a religion in Mexico. Reason was because since 1917 Mexican constitution, religions could not own property but the freedom of religion was a right of all Mexicans.
1975 - Since 1966 the year was promoted as end of 6000 years of human existance and promoted as major date where it would make sense for God to bring in the new world. Some small apolagy was issued in 1980 or 81 watchtower.
1990 - Watchtower became NGO (UN branch) and stay as such until 2001 when UK guardian newspaper revealed their activity and upon the article release Watchtower cut it's ties with NGO. Other branches of Watchtower (European branches) still are NGO members or were members in 2007
2007 - multi million lawsuits paid out by Watch Tower to the pedophile victims.
THese are just the highlights of the Watch Tower's dealings. Have fun researching these for yourself. If you need help where to look just ask.