Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Review: Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

Title: Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI 
Author: David Grann
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Doubleday
Publish Date: April 18, 2017
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.

Then, one by one, they began to be killed off. One Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, watched as her family was murdered. Her older sister was shot. Her mother was then slowly poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more Osage began to die under mysterious circumstances.

In this last remnant of the Wild West—where oilmen like J. P. Getty made their fortunes and where desperadoes such as Al Spencer, “the Phantom Terror,” roamed – virtually anyone who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll surpassed more than twenty-four Osage, the newly created F.B.I. took up the case, in what became one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations. But the bureau was then notoriously corrupt and initially bungled the case. Eventually the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to try to unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including one of the only Native American agents in the bureau. They infiltrated the region, struggling to adopt the latest modern techniques of detection. Together with the Osage they began to expose one of the most sinister conspiracies in American history.

My Two Cents:

"Killers of the Flower Moon" is the story of the birth of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and how the agency got its reputation as the premier investigation entity of the U.S. government. I love books that uncover some of the hidden stories of history and this book certainly does that. After oil is discovered under the Osage Native Americans' land, they begin to die unexplained deaths. No one can figure out what is happening or why it is happening. I had never heard of this event before and loved Grann's telling of this event.

I do read non-fiction but I like when it feels more like a story. It feels more immersive to me and is more enjoyable. This book definitely feels more like fiction - I had to keep reminding myself that it really happened and all of the twists and turns in the case are really real. Grann takes us right to the characters on the ground. They definitely pop off the pages. I felt for the Osage, particularly ones like Mollie who basically sees her entire family picked off for no reason at all. She can't get much traction on getting help at first. You really feel for everything that she has been through.

Now we take the work of the FBI for granted. They are simply there when they need to be as events happen around our country. It is hard to remember that this was once not so. This case was one of the first that the FBI really got to stretch its legs. It was interesting to see how things used to be to what they are like now. I really enjoyed this book!

1 comment:

  1. I've seen this one and it sounds interesting. I hope to get to it sometime this year. I'm glad you enjoyed it!


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