We report the results of an in-depth study of the long-term soft gamma-ray (30 keV to 1.7 MeV) flux and spectral variability of the transient source GRO J1719-24 that was first discovered by BATSE and SIGMA in the fall of 1993. Our results were obtained from the JPL BATSE-EBOP database covering a 1000 day period between 1993 January 13 and 1995 October 10. During this period, the source underwent a major outburst in the fall of 1993 when the 35-100 keV flux rose from a quiescent state of less than 16 mcrab before 1993 September 17 to a level of 1.5 crab on October 3. The source remained in this high-intensity state over the next approx. 70 days, during which the 35-100 keV flux decreased monotonically by 33% to 1 crab on December 12, then decreased sharply to the pretransition quiescent level of 44 mcrab on December 21, where it remained until 1994 September 5. During a 400 day period between 1994 September 5 and 1995 October 10, the source again underwent a series of five transitions when the 35-100 keV flux increased to low-intensity levels of 200 400 mcrab, a factor of 4-7 times lower than what was observed in 1993. The low- and high-intensity states were characterized by two different spectral shapes. The low-state spectra are described by a power law with a spectral index of approx. 2. The high-state spectra, on the other hand, have two components: a thermal Comptonized shape below approx. 200 keV with electron temperature k(sub Te) of approx. 37 keV and optical depth tau approx. 2.8, and a soft power-law tail with photon index of 3.4 above 200 keV that extends to approx. 500 keV. The softer high-intensity spectrum and the harder low-intensity spectrum intersect at approx. 400 keV. The nonthermal power-law gamma-ray component in both the high- and low-intensity spectra suggests that the persistent nonthermal emission source is coupled to the hot and variable thermal emission source in the system. Furthermore, the correlation of the spectral characteristics with the high- and low-intensity states resembles that seen in two other gamma-ray emitting black hole candidates, GRO J0422+32 and Cygnus X-1, suggesting that perhaps similar system configurations and processes are occurring in these systems. Possible scenarios for interpreting these behaviors are discussed
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