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Killers of the Flower Moon
by David Grann
GENRE: Nonfiction, History, True Crime
In the 1920s, the Osage Nation in Oklahoma had the wealthiest people per capita in the world; then, they started to die mysteriously and violently. The newly formed FBI, and their director, J. Edgar Hoover, took on the case, and eventually exposed a sinister conspiracy. A gripping true crime narrative that explores prejudice, greed, and the long-lasting consequences of community tragedy.
David Grann is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and an award-winning staff writer at The New Yorker magazine.
His newest book, The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny, and Murder, will be published in April of 2023. With the twists and turns of a thriller, it tells the true saga of a company of British naval officers and crew that became stranded on a desolate island off the coast of Patagonia and descended into murderous anarchy. The book explores the nature of survival, duty, and leadership, and it examines how both people and nations tell—and manipulate—history.
Grann is also the author of Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, which documented one of the most sinister crimes and racial injustices in American history. Described in the New York Times as a “riveting” work that will “sear your soul,” it was a finalist for the National Book Award and a winner of the Edgar Allen Poe Award for best true crime book. It was a #1 New York Times bestseller and named one of the best books of the year by the Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly, Time, and other publications. Amazon selected it as the single best book of the year.
The book has been adapted into a major motion picture directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone, Robert De Niro, and Jesse Plemons, which will be released in the coming months. For middle schoolers, Grann has also released Killers of the Flower Moon: A Young Reader’s Edition, which the School Library Journal called as “imperative and enthralling as its parent text.”
Grann’s first book, The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, was #1 New York Times bestseller and has been translated into more than twenty-five languages. Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, it was chosen as one of the best books of 2009 by the New York Times, Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, and other publications. The book, which the Washington Post called a “thrill ride from start to finish,” was adapted into a critically acclaimed film directed by James Gray and starring Charlie Hunnam, Sienna Miller, Robert Pattinson, and Tom Holland.
One of Grann’s New Yorker stories, "The White Darkness", was later expanded into a book. Mixing text and photography, it documented the modern explorer Henry Worsley’s quest to follow in the footsteps of his hero, Ernest Shackleton, and traverse Antarctica alone. The story is currently being adapted into a series for Apple starring Tom Hiddleston.
Many of Grann’s other New Yorker stories were included in his collection The Devil and Sherlock Holmes, which was named by Men’s Journal one of the best true crime books ever written. The stories focus on everything from the mysterious death of the world’s greatest Sherlock Holmes expert to a Polish writer who might have left clues to a real murder in his postmodern novel. Another piece, “Trial by Fire,” exposed how junk science led to the execution of a likely innocent man in Texas. The story received a George Polk award and was cited by the U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in his opinion regarding the death penalty. Several of the stories in The Devil and Sherlock Holmes have also served as source material for feature films, including “The Old Man and the Gun” with Robert Redford and Sissy Spacek, and “Trial by Fire” with Jack O’Connell and Laura Dern.
Over the years, Grann’s stories have appeared in The Best American Crime Writing; The Best American Sports Writing; and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. His stories have also been published in the New York Times Magazine, Atlantic, Washington Post, Boston Globe, and Wall Street Journal.
In addition to writing, Grann is a frequent speaker who has given talks about everything from Killers of the Flower Moon and the importance of historical memory to the dangers of complicity in unjust systems, and from the art of writing and detection to the leadership methods of explorers, such as Ernest Shackleton.
Grann holds master’s degrees in international relations (from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy) and creative writing (from Boston University). After graduating from Connecticut College, in 1989, he received a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship and did research in Mexico, where he began his career in journalism. He currently lives in New York with his wife and two children. - Author's website
*Starred Review* During the early 1920s, many members of the Osage Indian Nation were murdered, one by one. After being forced from several homelands, the Osage had settled in the late nineteenth century in an unoccupied area of Oklahoma, chosen precisely because it was rocky, sterile, and utterly unfit for cultivation. No white man would covet this land; Osage people would be happy. Then oil was soon discovered below the Osage territory, speedily attracting prospectors wielding staggering sums and turning many Osage into some of the richest people in the world. Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes, 2010) centers this true-crime mystery on Mollie Burkhart, an Osage woman who lost several family members as the death tally grew, and Tom White, the former Texas Ranger whom J. Edgar Hoover sent to solve the slippery, attention-grabbing case once and for all. A secondary tale of Hoover's single-minded rise to power as the director of what would become the FBI, his reshaping of the bureau's practices, and his goal to gain prestige for federal investigators provides invaluable historical context. Grann employs you-are-there narrative effects to set readers right in the action, and he relays the humanity, evil, and heroism of the people involved. His riveting reckoning of a devastating episode in American history deservedly captivates.--Bostrom, Annie Copyright 2017 Booklist
New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Lost City of Z) burnishes his reputation as a brilliant storyteller in this gripping true-crime narrative, which revisits a baffling and frightening-and relatively unknown-spree of murders occurring mostly in Oklahoma during the 1920s. From 1921 to 1926, at least two dozen people were murdered by a killer or killers apparently targeting members of the Osage Indian Nation, who at the time were considered "the wealthiest people per capita in the world" thanks to the discovery of oil beneath their lands. The violent campaign of terror is believed to have begun with the 1921 disappearance of two Osage Indians, Charles Whitehorn and Anna Brown, and the discovery of their corpses soon afterwards, followed by many other murders in the next five years. The outcry over the killings led to the involvement in 1925 of an "obscure" branch of the Justice Department, J. Edgar Hoover's Bureau of Investigation, which eventually charged some surprising figures with the murders. Grann demonstrates how the Osage Murders inquiry helped Hoover to make the case for a "national, more professional, scientifically skilled" police force. Grann's own dogged detective work reveals another layer to the case that Hoover's men had never exposed. Agents: Kathy Robbins and David Halpern, Robbins Office. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In the 1870s, the Osage Indians were herded onto a small tract of land in Oklahoma-land that unexpectedly held vast reserves of oil, rendering the tribe incredibly rich overnight. By law, the Osage had mineral rights outright, although they were still treated like children, requiring a white "guardian" to manage their assets. In 1921, there was a sudden upsurge in deaths of the Osage on the reservation-accidents, bad whiskey, and outright murder. Author Grann (The Lost City of Z) writes of these crimes, where at least 18 Osage and three nontribe members met suspicious deaths by 1925, many of them members of the same family. The Osage pleaded for the federal government to help, and J. Edgar Hoover, head of the fledgling FBI, sent agent Tom White to investigate. White discovered that many of the victims were connected to a single man, an upstanding community leader who stood to profit handsomely from the murders. The long, drawn out investigation finally resulted in convictions and good publicity for the agency, but some unanswered questions remain. VERDICT A spellbinding book about the largest serial murder investigation you've never heard of, which will be enjoyed by fans of the Old West as well as true crime aficionados. [See Prepub Alert, 10/17/16.]-Deirdre Bray Root, MidPointe Lib. Syst., OH © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal
In 1920s Oklahoma, many members of the oil-wealthy Osage Nation were dying untimely and suspicious deaths. The widespread crimes against the Osage and the inability to identify those responsible led to the establishment of what is now known as the FBI. Grann, author of the best-selling The Lost City of Z, makes a complex web of violence and deception easy to follow by keeping the focus on one Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, whose family members were murdered one by one. This gripping title uncovers a baffling level of corruption. The author points his investigative lens at the perpetrators of the murders, reveals cover-ups by authorities all the way up to the national level, and illustrates that the deception continued almost a century later. There are plenty of curriculum connections: Native American and Osage tribal history, economics, law enforcement, and journalism. A varied selection of photographs help to set the scene for readers. End pages include comprehensive source notes, citations, and a bibliography. VERDICT This thoroughly researched, suspenseful exposé will appeal to followers of true crime programs such as the podcast Serial and the Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer, as well as to fans of Louise Erdrich's The Round House.-Tara Kehoe, formerly at New Jersey State Library Talking Book and Braille Center, Trenton © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
by Steve Hendricks
Citing the 1976 murder of Native American activist Anna Mae Aquash, a history of the adversarial relationship between the FBI and Native Americans draws on the author's archival research into previously unreleased documents to reveal murderous conspiracies and cover-ups on both sides of the unofficial conflict.
by Ron Stallworth
Relates how African American detective Ron Stallworth went undercover to investigate the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado Springs in 1978, describing how he disrupted Klan activities and exposed white supremacists in the military during the months-long investigation.
by Kenneth Ackerman
Documents America's first domestic war on terror, a period in the early 1920s during which J. Edgar Hoover assembled a database of thousands of suspected communists and was enlisted by attorney general A. Mitchell Palmer to execute a series of home and office raids through which more than 10,000 Americans were arrested for treason.