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Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

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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. H 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. A true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history.


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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. H 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. A true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history.

30 review for Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    ”Today our hearts are divided between two worlds. We are strong and courageous, learning to walk in these two worlds, hanging on to the threads of our culture and traditions as we live in a predominantly non-Indian society. Our history, our culture, our heart, and our home will always be stretching our legs across the plains, singing songs in the morning light, and placing our feet down with the ever beating heart of the drum. We walk in two worlds.” The Osage Indians lived in Kansas until the 18 ”Today our hearts are divided between two worlds. We are strong and courageous, learning to walk in these two worlds, hanging on to the threads of our culture and traditions as we live in a predominantly non-Indian society. Our history, our culture, our heart, and our home will always be stretching our legs across the plains, singing songs in the morning light, and placing our feet down with the ever beating heart of the drum. We walk in two worlds.” The Osage Indians lived in Kansas until the 1870s when the government decided that their land was too valuable for them to own. Laura Ingalls Wilder, writer of Little House on the Prairie, was confused as to why the Osage Indians were being forced off their land. Her father explained: ”That’s why we’re here, Laura. White people are going to settle all this country, and we get the best land because we get here first and take our pick.” Indians were looked on as a subspecies of human being who didn’t deserve to breath and certainly didn’t deserve to own any useful land. The Osage Indians were moved to Northeastern Oklahoma on a patch of ground that was deemed worthless. But was it? When oil was discovered beneath the reservation land in the 1920s, those dirt scratching Indians became extremely wealthy. The federal government, due to the Osages’ inherent racial weakness, deemed them incapable of managing their own affairs and appointed guardians to manage their affairs, white guardians. As an example, if an Osage wanted a car, the guardian would buy a car for $250 and sell it to the Indian for $1,250. The definition of guardian used words such as protector or defender. It didn’t say anything about exploiter. This is a tale of greed, but unfortunately, it didn’t stop there. It became murder. When the suspicious deaths of Osage Indians reached twenty-four, the fledgling director of the Bureau of Investigations ( It would not be called the Federal Bureau of Investigations until 1935.) J. Edgar Hoover decided that he needed Federal agents on the ground. Hoover had already been systematically removing agents from the program that did not meet his criteria for education level and impeccable character. The agents out West, many of them ex-Texas Rangers, did not fit either of those profiles, but Hoover was smart enough to realize that, for a case like this, spit shined shoes and snappy ties were not going to get the job done. He sent in Tom White, one of those disreputable former Texas Rangers. White brought some people in as undercover agents, and slowly the details of what was going on began to shimmer into view. The problem was witnesses disappeared or clammed up when they were asked to testify at trial. One white man who was trying to help the Osage was mysteriously thrown from a train. Another was kidnapped. Building a case was one thing, but actually prosecuting someone was not easy. It became more and more clear that this was not the act of just one man, but a conspiracy. ”A conspiracy is everything that ordinary life is not. It’s the inside game, cold, sure, undistracted, forever closed off to us. We are the flawed ones, the innocents, trying to make some rough sense of the daily jostle. Conspirators have a logic and a daring beyond our reach. All conspiracies are the same taut story of men who find coherence in some criminal act. “ --Don DeLillo, Libra Meanwhile, the murders continued unabated. Osages were shot, poisoned, stabbed, and even in one case blown up with dynamite. The ruthlessness with which they were systematically eliminated was actually terrifying. I can’t even imagine the level of fear that the tribe was living under. Death was not a nebulous unknown creature, but was actually embodied by members of their community intent on their destruction. The other problem was that white people felt the Indians did not deserve the money. The adage the only good Indian is a dead Indian was still in common use, especially if anyone encountered a situation where Indian ownership was in their way. David Grann has done a wonderful job of investigating these murders. Though some people were incarcerated for the crimes back in the 1920s, the more Grann dug, the more threads he found that led to other guardians who should have been investigated more thoroughly as well. The descendents of those murdered Osage still want closer. They still want justice, even if the killers are moldering in their graves. ”The blood cries out from the ground.” ”During Xtha-cka Zbi-ga Tze-the, the Killer of the Flowers Moon. I will wade across the river of the blackfish, the otter, the beaver. I will climb the bank where the willow never dies.” If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  2. 3 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Reading about injustice -historical tragedies--such greed - such ugliness---does something to us. It's hard to explain the depths of what transforms. We feel the anger... the incredible unfairness. We feel different- changed in ways - after reading a book like this. It's the type of book that makes me want to 'do something'. White people cheated Indians out of their land! That we 'knew'.... but there is much in this small book many people are not aware of. Author David Grann kept peeling off the Reading about injustice -historical tragedies--such greed - such ugliness---does something to us. It's hard to explain the depths of what transforms. We feel the anger... the incredible unfairness. We feel different- changed in ways - after reading a book like this. It's the type of book that makes me want to 'do something'. White people cheated Indians out of their land! That we 'knew'.... but there is much in this small book many people are not aware of. Author David Grann kept peeling off the layers of the onion....by uncovering the magnitude of the numbers of murders that took place within the Osage Tribe. --- His research gives us a true story of history that just makes you sick! And why? For those who have not read this yet.... JUST READ IT.... it becomes very clear. It will infuriate you -- but like the Holocaust-- some stories need to be told - so we don't forget. Having recently read Sherman Alexie's memoir- "You Don't Have To Say I Love You"....... plus this Native American Historical story..... ......If the combination of these two books alone don't completely transform you about your stand about American Indian Rights ....SO MUCH SO .... that you're ready to rally for them - vote for them - protest 'with' them - fight 'with' them .... Then I sure don't know what will. Warning: This book can make you FURIOUS!!!! THE PHOTOS included of the Osage Tribe were beautiful!!!!

  3. 3 out of 5

    Trish

    That we as a nation, less than one hundred years after the Osage Indian killings, have no collective memory of these events seems an intentional erasure. The truth of the killings would traumatize our school children and make every one of us search our souls, of that there is no doubt. David Grann shows us that the systematic killings of dozens of oil-wealthy Osage Indians were not simply the rogue deeds of a psychopath or two in a small town in Oklahoma. The tentacles of guilt and the politics That we as a nation, less than one hundred years after the Osage Indian killings, have no collective memory of these events seems an intentional erasure. The truth of the killings would traumatize our school children and make every one of us search our souls, of that there is no doubt. David Grann shows us that the systematic killings of dozens of oil-wealthy Osage Indians were not simply the rogue deeds of a psychopath or two in a small town in Oklahoma. The tentacles of guilt and the politics of fear extended to townspeople who earned their reputation as “successful” because they allowed these murders and thefts of property to go on, as well as implicated law enforcement. Grann outlines how the case was solved and brought to court by the persistence of FBI officer Tom White and his band, but Grann is not full-throated in his praise of Hoover's FBI. He leaves us feeling ambiguous, not about White, but about Hoover. The Osage Indians once laid claim to much of the central part of what is now called the United States, “a territory that stretched from what is now Missouri and Kansas to Oklahoma and still farther west, all the way to the Rockies.” The tribe was physically imposing, described by Thomas Jefferson as “the finest men we have ever seen,” whose warriors typically stood over six feet tall. They were given land by Jefferson as part of their settlement to stop fighting the Indian Wars in the early 1700s. Jefferson reneged on the agreement within four years, and ended up giving the once-mighty Osage a 50-by-125 mile area in southeastern Kansas to call their own. Gradually, however, white settlers found they liked that particular Kansas farmland and moved onto it anyway, killing anyone who challenged them, oftentimes the legal “owners”. The government then forced the Osage to sell the Kansas land and buy rocky, hilly land in Oklahoma, land no white man would want, where the Osage would be “safe” from encroachment. This was the late 1800s. In the early 1900s oil was discovered on that ‘worthless’ Oklahoma land and because a representative of the Osage tribe was in Washington to defend Osage interests, he managed to include in the legal agreement of the allotment of Indian Territory “that the oil, gas, coal, or other minerals covered by the lands…are hereby reserved to the Osage Tribe.” Living Osage family members each were given a headright, or a share in the tribe’s mineral trust. The headrights could not be sold, they could only be inherited. The Osage became immensely wealthy. The federal government expressed some concern (!) that the Osage were unable to manage their own wealth, and so ordered that local town professionals, white men, be appointed as guardians. One Indian WWI veteran complained he was not permitted to sign his own checks without oversight, and expenditures down to toothpaste were monitored. But this is not even the most terrible of the legacies. The Osage began to be murdered, one by one. When Grann discovered rumblings of this century-old criminal case in Oklahoma, he wanted to see the extent of what was called the Reign of Terror, thought to have begun in 1921 and lasted until 1926, when some of the cases were finally successfully prosecuted. The “reign,” he discovered, was much longer and wider than originally imagined, and therefore did not just implicate the men who were eventually jailed for the crimes. “White people in Oklahoma thought no more of killing an Indian than they did in 1724.” said John Ramsey, one of the men eventually jailed for crimes against the Osage. A reporter noted, “The attitude of a pioneer cattleman toward a full-blood Indian…is fairly well recognized.” What we learn in the course of this account is that a great number of people had information that could have led to answers much sooner than it did, but because there was so much corruption, even the undercover agents and sheriffs were in on the open secret of the murders. Those townspeople who might be willing to divulge what they knew were unable to discover to whom they should share information lest they be murdered as well. Grann was able to answer some questions never resolved at the time, with his access to a greater number of now-available documents. Why this history is not better known is a mystery still. Memory of it was fading already in the late 1950s when a film, The FBI Story starring Jimmy Stewart, made mention of it. The 1920s are not so long ago, and some of the people who were children then have only recently passed away, or may even be still living. Among the Osage there is institutional memory, and still some resentment, naturally, and a long-lasting mistrust of white people. Need I say this is a must-read? The audio of this book is narrated by three individuals: Ann Marie Lee, Will Patton, and Danny Campbell. Interestingly, the voices of the narrators seem to age over the course of the history, and it is a tale well-told. But the paper copy of this has photographs which add a huge amount of depth and interest to the story. This is another good candidate for a Whispersync option, but if you are going to choose one, the paper was my favorite.

  4. 3 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    I don't know why or even how, after all I have read, I can still be surprised at man's cunning and greed. I knew nothing about the Osage Indians, certainly nothing about headrights that provided them with a great deal of money.It is the money and the way the law was provisioned that made them a target for the unscrupulous and there were plenty of those. This is the story of the investigation into murders that until Hoover involved himself and his men, we're virtually shoved under the rug and goi I don't know why or even how, after all I have read, I can still be surprised at man's cunning and greed. I knew nothing about the Osage Indians, certainly nothing about headrights that provided them with a great deal of money.It is the money and the way the law was provisioned that made them a target for the unscrupulous and there were plenty of those. This is the story of the investigation into murders that until Hoover involved himself and his men, we're virtually shoved under the rug and going nowhere. Even after so many suspicious deaths, often in the same family. So we learn about the murders, a little about Hoover, more about a man who was known as a cowboy in the service and he would be the one who broke open this case. Well put together, though out, this book was easy to read and very informative. Some things were glanced over, maybe not as thorough as some would expect, or like but that would have made for a much longer book. Liked that the author pursued this even after the initial findings, going back over the records, finding missed connections and came to some additional conclusions.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann is a 2017 Doubleday publication. A Conspiracy is everything that ordinary life is not. It’s the inside game, cold, sure, undistracted, forever closed off to us. We are the flawed ones, the innocents, trying to make some rough sense of the daily jostle. Conspirators have a logic, and a daring beyond our reach. All conspiracies are the same taut story of men who find coherence in a criminal act- Don Delillo This is a stunning historical true crime 'novel' Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann is a 2017 Doubleday publication. A Conspiracy is everything that ordinary life is not. It’s the inside game, cold, sure, undistracted, forever closed off to us. We are the flawed ones, the innocents, trying to make some rough sense of the daily jostle. Conspirators have a logic, and a daring beyond our reach. All conspiracies are the same taut story of men who find coherence in a criminal act- Don Delillo This is a stunning historical true crime 'novel' centered around corrupt and shameful politics, racism, and greed that fueled the ‘Osage reign of terror’, back in the 1920’s and was responsible for the birth of the first ‘Bureau of Investigation”- When Mollie Burkhart’s sister disappeared, and was later found shot to death, an investigation into her death, as well a bombing and a string of poisonings all aimed at wealthy Osage Indians who benefited from the oil found on their land, began that would eventually expose an incredible conspiracy. This conspiracy involved anyone and everyone, it seems, as the Osage were being systematically killed off. This included law men and lawmakers, all the way to Washington, as white men schemed to take control of the vast wealth the Osage were entitled to. Finally, with increasing pleas for help the FBI got involved in the case, but rife with corruption, they floundered horribly. Eventually, Tom White was assigned the case by J. Edgar Hoover. His investigation would expose men at their darkest and most unconscionable. It’s hard to imagine Hoover in this light, but he was trying to build his reputation at this time, so solving this case would be a big feather in his cap. I am ashamed to admit I didn’t know anything about this dark piece of history. This is a true crime accounting, but it reads like a modern -day murder mystery, one you simply can not put down, with enough plot twists to keep the reader right on the edge of their seats. While many true crime books are hard to read due to the creepiness and graphic details of the crimes, this book doesn’t really have that same, ‘don’t read it alone at night’ quality to it, but I was so shocked by what I was reading, I experienced plenty of shock waves, all the same. Usually, I find myself feeling a great many emotions for crime victims and their families, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt more sympathy than I did for Mollie Burkhart. My God!! That poor woman suffered such an incredible amount of loss, in unimaginable ways. But, I am also ashamed of the way the Osage was treated by our country. Men of power who schemed to limit access to their money, assigning them guardians, who could easily steal from them… or worse. They were treated like children!! Can you imagine having someone monitoring every penny you spent- down to a tube of toothpaste?? SERIOUSLY?? ‘The US government, contending that many Osage were unable to handle their money, had required the Office of Indian Affairs to determine which members of the tribe were capable of managing their trust funds. Over the tribe’s vehement objections, many Osage were deemed incompetent, and were forced to have a local white guardian overseeing and authorizing all their spending, down to the tube of toothpaste they purchased at the corner store. One Osage who had served in World War 1 complained, “I fought in France for this country, and yet I am not allowed even to sign my own checks.' The history that unfolds in this book riveting. So many innocent lives lost, so many lies, scandals and cover-ups, it’s hard to keep count of it all. But, at the end of the day, this book resonated with me because I learned some eye -opening truths about the Osage, which I knew virtually nothing, and came away with a much better understanding and deep respect for them. It also solidified, unfortunately, my cynicism about our government and what truly lies at the bottom depths of a person’s heart. Greed, racism, and the desire for complete control, at any cost, still governs our lives today. While I did feel a long overdue feeling of triumph, and relief that this story is finally out there, that some justice was served in the end, there are still many who didn’t get that kind of retribution or closure. This is a MUST READ!! I promise it is one of those books that will give you pause, make you stop to reconsider, and will change your outlook about the past, help one recognize that we are still battling many of those same issues in the present, which could, just maybe, keep history from repeating itself. ‘History is a merciless judge. It lays bare our tragic blunders and foolish missteps and exposes our most intimate secrets, wielding the power of hindsight like an arrogant detective who seems to know the end of the mystery from the onset.” While this story chilled me right to the bone, it also broke my heart and tapped into a well of emotions, while teaching me a lot about a time in history I so glad I discovered. It's a book we can all take something away from, and hopefully learn from it. 5 stars

  6. 3 out of 5

    Liz

    A good nonfiction book will read as fast as a good piece of fiction, all the while imparting new knowledge to the reader. Destiny of the Republic, by Candice Millard, is a prime example. Now comes Killers of the Flower Moon. Enthralling, it tells not only of the killing spree against the Osage, but the rise of the oil industry, the development of private detectives and the Bureau of Investigation ( the precursor to the FBI) and the political corruption of the day. It's a sad look back on the pre A good nonfiction book will read as fast as a good piece of fiction, all the while imparting new knowledge to the reader. Destiny of the Republic, by Candice Millard, is a prime example. Now comes Killers of the Flower Moon. Enthralling, it tells not only of the killing spree against the Osage, but the rise of the oil industry, the development of private detectives and the Bureau of Investigation ( the precursor to the FBI) and the political corruption of the day. It's a sad look back on the prejudices of the day, along with the numerous scandals. But for someone who came of age in the 70s, when Hoover was more villain than hero, it's interesting to see how much he did to bring the bureau out of its prior history of corruption and scandal. It was also interesting to see how White and his team finally put together a case after struggling to find hard evidence or live witnesses to bring the murderer to trial. I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy an entertaining, enlightening nonfiction book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    3 to 3.5 stars Interesting and eye opening. A scary true story of greed and racism in the development of the American West. This is one of those hard to read and accept truths of American history. If you enjoy history and/or true crime I think this is worth giving a go. My main criticism is that while the story is interesting, I am not quite sure it is book worthy. It seems like this whole story could have been told in 30 to 50 pages or in a Wikipedia article. It feels a bit drawn out when expande 3 to 3.5 stars Interesting and eye opening. A scary true story of greed and racism in the development of the American West. This is one of those hard to read and accept truths of American history. If you enjoy history and/or true crime I think this is worth giving a go. My main criticism is that while the story is interesting, I am not quite sure it is book worthy. It seems like this whole story could have been told in 30 to 50 pages or in a Wikipedia article. It feels a bit drawn out when expanded to 300+ pages. Because of the length I was waiting for a lot more to happen, but it never really did. Also, the title of this book would indicate that there is a lot of detail about the formation of the FBI - I don't really feel this was the case. There were a few pages about how local law enforcement was too corrupt so they needed the federal government involved, but that was about it. Some may disagree, but I hardly felt that this book could be used for a history report on the start of the FBI. This book is recommended for hard core history and true crime buffs. If you like your history and true crime to be a little less textbook, this may not be the book for you. Side note: the audiobook is mediocre. The more I listen, the more I think I don't care for Will Patton as a narrator.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    This is the best nonfiction book I've read this year. I've enjoyed David Grann's earlier work, but this latest one is just fantastic. Killers of the Flower Moon tells a story I hadn't heard before: The "Reign of Terror" in the 1920s, when white folk were murdering dozens of Osage Indians in a despicable attempt to steal their money and rights to Oklahoma oil reserves. This case occurred during the beginnings of the FBI, and J. Edgar Hoover used it as marketing tool for the agency. This book is ric This is the best nonfiction book I've read this year. I've enjoyed David Grann's earlier work, but this latest one is just fantastic. Killers of the Flower Moon tells a story I hadn't heard before: The "Reign of Terror" in the 1920s, when white folk were murdering dozens of Osage Indians in a despicable attempt to steal their money and rights to Oklahoma oil reserves. This case occurred during the beginnings of the FBI, and J. Edgar Hoover used it as marketing tool for the agency. This book is rich with American history. First, there's the irony that the Osage were only in Oklahoma because the U.S. government had forced them to resettle there, after the feds decided to take Kansas away from Indian Territory and let the whites settle it instead. Then, once the indigenous people were settled in Oklahoma and oil was found, suddenly the whites wanted the land back. But the Osage had set it up so mineral rights were to stay within tribal families, which led to some whites intermarrying with the Osage, and then a rash of mysterious deaths. I really liked how Grann structured this book into three parts. First, we see things from the perspective of an Osage woman who lost several members of her family. Then, we follow an FBI man who is tasked with investigating the murders. Finally, Grann gives his perspective as a reporter working on the case nearly 100 years later, and we learn things that not even the FBI had discovered. I listened to this on audio, which featured a different narrator for each of the three sections. Actor Will Patton was especially great in the FBI part. I also had a print copy of the book, which I recommend looking through because it includes dozens of historic photographs (including the one mentioned in the passage below) and also pictures of the people and places mentioned in the text. Grann has an engaging writing style, and this is such an engrossing read that I raced through it in two days. I would highly recommend Killers of the Flower Moon to anyone who likes true crime stories or books about history. Favorite Passage In Pawhuska, I stopped at the Osage Nation Museum ... The most dramatic photograph in the museum spanned an entire side of the room. Taken at a ceremony in 1924, it was a panoramic view of members of the tribe alongside prominent local white businessman and leaders. As I scanned the picture, I noticed that a section was missing, as if someone had taken scissors to it. I asked [Kathryn] Red Corn what happened to that part of the photograph. "It's too painful to show," she said. When I asked why, she pointed to the blank space and said, "The devil was standing right there." She disappeared for a moment, then returned with a small, slightly blurred print of the missing panel: it showed William K. Hale, staring coldly at the camera. The Osage had removed his image, not to forget the murders, as most Americans had, but because they cannot forget.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    "We Indians cannot get our rights in these courts and I have no chance at all of saving this land for my children." (Widow of Joe Bates, Osage Nation, 1921) No horror novella could possibly mirror the horrendous crimes that were visited upon the Osage Indian Nation in the 1920's. The catastrophic bungling of crime evidence, the leaks and sabotage, and the willful insidious behavior by unscrupulous individuals is mind-boggling. The devil and his cohorts wore well-pressed suits and walked among the "We Indians cannot get our rights in these courts and I have no chance at all of saving this land for my children." (Widow of Joe Bates, Osage Nation, 1921) No horror novella could possibly mirror the horrendous crimes that were visited upon the Osage Indian Nation in the 1920's. The catastrophic bungling of crime evidence, the leaks and sabotage, and the willful insidious behavior by unscrupulous individuals is mind-boggling. The devil and his cohorts wore well-pressed suits and walked among the honest and the God-fearing. In the 1870's, the Osage Indian Nation were driven from their lands in Kansas and forced upon rocky, worthless land in Oklahoma. The Osage embraced this land as a means of being left alone. That wish never came true. Beneath this forsaken land were some of the largest oil deposits in the United States. The Osage shared the rich dividends amongst themselves. But their new-found wealth came at a great price. The law forced appointed "guardians" to manage their growing bank accounts. David Grann tells this incredible story through the wide periphery of Mollie Burkhart and her family members. Mollie was an Osage woman married to a white man, Ernest Burkhart. It is through Mollie that we come to know the brutal crimes committed against her and her family and others living in this town. The photographs of Mollie, her mother, and her sisters will breathe life into this story. It will enrage you at the thought that these defenseless individuals died from poisoning, suspicious fires, and fatal gunshot wounds. No one dared to speak names behind closed doors out of fear of retribution. And insatiable greed turned hearts to blackened stone. Grann's story reads like a well-tuned work of pure fiction. But as you turn the pages, you are aghast by the hardcore truth that awaits you. Justice didn't exist on this Osage territory. It took years and years before a case could be brought before the court system. That is unless you could find a jury that was not lined with bribes. Years of ineptness took their toll on Mollie until a remarkable former Texas Ranger, Tom White, took charge. We will experience the birth of the FBI with the initiation of J. Edgar Hoover. The journey towards that justice was a long and arduous one. I came upon David Grann on C-SPAN one evening. I had to know the story of Mollie Burkhart for myself. I believe you will, too. "The blood cries out from the ground." The silence no longer exists and the truth, finally, prevails.

  10. 3 out of 5

    PorshaJo

    Lies, greed, murder, cover-ups....what a frightful Halloween read. Except this one is a true story, which makes it even more frightening. This is the true story of the Osage Indians. How they were taken advantage of and belittled by everyone. In the early 19th century, they were forced from their lands and eventually ended up taking up residence on Indian territory, which is now known as Oklahoma. Then, in the early 20th century, there was found to be oil on those lands. They had a headright on Lies, greed, murder, cover-ups....what a frightful Halloween read. Except this one is a true story, which makes it even more frightening. This is the true story of the Osage Indians. How they were taken advantage of and belittled by everyone. In the early 19th century, they were forced from their lands and eventually ended up taking up residence on Indian territory, which is now known as Oklahoma. Then, in the early 20th century, there was found to be oil on those lands. They had a headright on the lands, which is a legal grant of land to settlers. (Yup, I looked it up.) Leasing land allowed the Osage to become some of the wealthiest people in the country. But the white people did not like this, referring to them as 'filthy redskins' and other remarks. The government even thought they were not educated enough to manage their own money, appointing trustees for each Osage Indian. The Osage had an allowance, very small, in which they could spend each month. When they needed money for something...sending a child to a better school, medicine for a sick child, they had to ask their trustee, who often told them no. And then, if it was not bad enough, they were being murdered.....for their land. It is one of the most chilling, true stories I have read (well, except Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders.) The book details all of this and the many murders of the Osage. It seemed everyone was against them. The government, even local officials, everyone. They could not stand that they had this wealth. It was found that the trustees appointed to them were often stealing money from them, in large amounts. And after a number of years, when the murders were not solved, and more were being committed, the federal government got involved. Oh, but what became the FBI CHARGED the Indians a large fee to actually investigate the murders. Nothing that was done in any other investigation. Sometimes I thought, how could this happen, how could our government do this, how could this greed and corruption go on....and then I turn on the news. Yeah, nuff said. Anyway, an incredible book about a time in our history. An utterly fascinating story that I'm so glad I read. When the book was released, the title alone hooked me. So I immediately requested the audio. Now, the bad part...one of *the worst* audio narrations I have come across. There were three narrators in total. The first narrator, read like she was telling a bed-time story, with over the top embellishments. Like she was telling me a story about a fuzzy monster under my bed when she was describing how a person was murdered. I wanted to stop, I really did. But the print version at my library....yeah, I would have been #72 in the queue. At this point, I was hooked, and just tried to put the narration out of my head. I looked at a preview of the book and saw it has tons of photos. So I have it on order and plan to revisit this one after I get the book. A highly recommended read! But read the print, your missing pictures pertaining to this history. And the narration is just dreadful. Plus, there are a lot of people involved in this story, and print can help keeping track, you can go back easily and re-read portions. I plan on reading more from this author and perhaps reading more non-fiction in general.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    David Grann, a journalist, has done an excellent job investigating and chronicling the terrible story of the Osage American Indian murders in the 1920s. It's a chilling story - hard to believe it's true, hard to believe people could be so cruel and callous. Hard to believe I've never heard of this before. In about 1904, the Osage tribe had negotiated a contract with the U.S. government; tellingly, their lawyer was able to slip in a clause that all oil, gas and other mineral rights on their land w David Grann, a journalist, has done an excellent job investigating and chronicling the terrible story of the Osage American Indian murders in the 1920s. It's a chilling story - hard to believe it's true, hard to believe people could be so cruel and callous. Hard to believe I've never heard of this before. In about 1904, the Osage tribe had negotiated a contract with the U.S. government; tellingly, their lawyer was able to slip in a clause that all oil, gas and other mineral rights on their land were "reserved to the Osage Tribe." By 1917, there were huge oil strikes on the Osage land, and the "headrights" - each tribe member's share of the oil lease royalties - were worth many thousands of dollars. Tribe members became hugely wealthy. But then the vultures moved in: Congress required most of the Osages to have an appointed guardian to manage their wealth; most of these guardians were intent on fleecing and defrauding their charges. Local businesses would jack up their charges for the Osages. Banks charged usurious interest rates on loans. Some white people would marry the Osages for their money ... and some would kill to get their hands on their fortunes. Three sisters: Minnie, Anna and Mollie Anna Brown mysteriously disappeared one night in May 1921; her decomposed body was found about a week later, with a bullet hole in the back of her head. About the same time, the body of Charles Whitehorn was found near the base of an oil derrick. More deaths followed: some clearly murders, some unclear but suspicious (Anna's mother died soon after her of a mysterious wasting disease). Too soon, Mollie Burkhart was the only one in her family still alive, along with her white husband, Ernest Burkhart, and their three children. Government and private investigators came up with almost nothing (how many of them were complicit, and how many were threatened into silence, is a question that may never be fully answered). And sometimes, too often, important witnesses or persons who were helping with the investigation would be found dead as well. It became known as the Reign of Terror. Grann unfolds the story in a clear and logical way, with some fascinating and chilling details. When the Bureau of Investigation (the precursor to the FBI) finally gets involved, things start to look more hopeful. But the web of conspiracies and silence isn't so easy to take apart. Highly recommended. This is a historical event that deserves never to be forgotten. Grann deserves praise for helping to bring it back to light, and for taking the extra steps to investigate and report on what may have happened to some of the forgotten victims. It makes you want to weep for humanity, but there are a few shining lights in the story."To believe that the Osages survived intact from their ordeal is a delusion of the mind. What has been possible to salvage has been saved and is dearer to our hearts because it survived. What is gone is treasured because it was what we once were. We gather our past and present into the depths of our being and face tomorrow. We are still Osage."Initial post: I've borrowed this from a friend for a December book club read. She says it's due back at the library in 5 days. *cracks knuckles* No sweat, right? P.S. I read it in just two days - it was that gripping.

  12. 5 out of 5

    PattyMacDotComma

    5★ “He was six feet four and had the sinewy limbs and the eerie composure of a gunslinger. Even when dressed in a stiff suit, like a door-to-door salesman, he seemed to have sprung from a mythic age.” John Wayne? No, but if this had been written right after it happened and Hollywood had made a movie of it, John Wayne would have played Tom White, the special agent in charge of the Bureau of Investigation’s field office in Houston. He was described as “an impressive sight in his large, suede Stetson 5★ “He was six feet four and had the sinewy limbs and the eerie composure of a gunslinger. Even when dressed in a stiff suit, like a door-to-door salesman, he seemed to have sprung from a mythic age.” John Wayne? No, but if this had been written right after it happened and Hollywood had made a movie of it, John Wayne would have played Tom White, the special agent in charge of the Bureau of Investigation’s field office in Houston. He was described as “an impressive sight in his large, suede Stetson, and a plumb-line running from head to heel would touch every part of the rear of his body.” This reads like a mystery. The fact that it’s a true crime history makes it as compelling as it is appalling. “Over the sixteen-year period from 1907 to 1923, 605 Osages died, averaging about 38 per year. . . ” The author mentions even more cases beyond that date, so who really knows? Why? Because members of the Osage tribe were the world’s richest people per capita of anUIKeyInputDownArrowy in the world! It’s quite a story. David Grann is a highly regarded journalist, New Yorker staff writer, and best-selling author. He could easily have called this “Osage Outrage”, but this title is much more memorable. The Osage refer to May as the time of the flower-killing moon, and Grann’s account begins in May 1921 when Mollie Burkhart is worrying about the disappearance of her sister, Anna. Anna is known for wild, free-wheeling sprees, but Mollie is convinced she’s truly missing. They had already lost their sister Minnie three years earlier under what Mollie thought were suspicious circumstances. Photo of sisters Rita, Anna, Mollie, and Minnie, healthy, wealthy Osage women The reason the Osage were awash with oil and money was that they had been pushed off their homelands in Kansas into a area of Oklahoma. Oklahoma was anxious to gain statehood and needed to get this agreement in place first, so they were happy to meet the Osage request to divide the land equally among only members of the tribe. “The Osage also managed to slip into the agreement what seemed, at the time, like a curious provision: “That the oil, gas, coal, or other minerals covered by the lands . . . are hereby reserved to the Osage Tribe.” They already knew there was oil there, having seen the “rainbow” slicks on some water, and each member now had a “headright”, a share in the mineral rights of their “underground reservation”. Back to Mollie. About a week after Mollie raised the alarm about her sister’s disappearance, the body of a man was discovered with two bullet holes. Then a week later, Anna’s body was discovered – she’d been shot in the head. Neighbourhood dogs die of strychnine poisoning, a bomb blast wipes out a home and family, and people are rightly terrified. Enter our man Tom White (John Wayne) in the summer of 1925. He got an urgent call to hurry to Washington, D.C., to meet J. Edgar Hoover, the new boss. Hoover was always a controlling (and odd) man. “Hoover demanded that his staff wear dark suits and sober neckties and black shoes polished to a gloss. He wanted his agents to be a specific American type: Caucasian, lawyerly, professional.” (Later, Hoover obviously livened up the professional look a bit.) Photo of Tom White and FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover Tom White collected some good undercover operators he could trust and they moved into town as cattle ranchers and insurance salesmen and such. Nobody was sure who the next target might be, so they watched everybody. Each member of the tribe had to have their money managed by a white guardian, which gave these men (I think they were all men) tremendous power. “One Osage who had served in World War I complained, ‘I fought in France for this country, and yet I am not allowed even to sign my own checks.’” The guardians seemed able to issue invoices to these accounts for all sorts of supposed services, and the Osage were powerless to prevent it, in spite of their wealth. “In 1923 alone, the tribe took in more than $30 million, the equivalent today of more than $400 million.” The murders, the lies, the clandestine love affairs, the betrayals and overall Wild West nature of this period are all captured in Grann’s splendid book. His research is extensive, everything is footnoted with easy links in the digital version of the book, and the photographs are wonderful. Absolutely first-rate whether you’re a history buff or a thriller enthusiast! Here’s talk by the author about the book. https://www.c-span.org/video/?427931-...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Montzalee Wittmann

    Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann was a difficult book to read because of all the injustice to the Osage people and victims especially. What a horrible stain on our history. I wish it was a compulsory book for high school kids to read and discuss today. Would it make a difference? I don't know but there is so much white-washing in the history books as it is. This was a book for our reading group and I am so glad it was picked or I probably woul Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann was a difficult book to read because of all the injustice to the Osage people and victims especially. What a horrible stain on our history. I wish it was a compulsory book for high school kids to read and discuss today. Would it make a difference? I don't know but there is so much white-washing in the history books as it is. This was a book for our reading group and I am so glad it was picked or I probably would never have picked it up. Great book!

  14. 3 out of 5

    Perry

    Malfeasance toward Osage Inherent in the System Intended to Protect Them [revised/improved May 15, 2017] In the 1870s, the United States government drove the Osage nation in herds onto a small reservation in Oklahoma, situated on a relatively small tract which was chosen because its rocky terrain was particularly unsuited to agriculture and thus undesirable to sooners arriving from the East to stake land claims. Forty years later, after the discovery of vast reserves of oil below this barren land, Malfeasance toward Osage Inherent in the System Intended to Protect Them [revised/improved May 15, 2017] In the 1870s, the United States government drove the Osage nation in herds onto a small reservation in Oklahoma, situated on a relatively small tract which was chosen because its rocky terrain was particularly unsuited to agriculture and thus undesirable to sooners arriving from the East to stake land claims. Forty years later, after the discovery of vast reserves of oil below this barren land, Osage members were among the country's richest, unaware the only compensation for their tribe losing its land--black gold--would, by 1925, turn fatal for at least eighteen tribal members and three non-members who apparently got too close to the fire. In 1921, three of the Osage were found murdered, each under mysterious circumstances. By the time the murder toll had reached eighteen members, local law enforcement's investigation was no closer to discovering evidence or identifying any suspect. It has thus become apparent that these law officers feared what would happen if they got closer to solving the crimes or they were beholden to unknown powers interested in the crimes being left unsolved. The Osage hired their own detectives, only to have them bought off to go away or threatened with death. Many of the murder victims were members of the family of Mollie Burkhart (her mom, sisters and their husbands were all killed). The author David Grann, who has gained a stellar reputation as an investigative writer after penning 2009's The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, centers three intriguing threads around Ms. Burkhart. In the first segment, he describes Mollie Burkhart's family and details most of the murders. Within this introduction, he introduces significant local figures as well as local law enforcement and its stymied and/or farcical investigations. The obstacles to a serious effort at solving the crimes by state and local officials sets the stage for involvement of the feds. Upon lobbying by an Oklahoma congressman, the nascent federal law enforcement agency, which ultimately became known as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, stepped into the fray. Its director J. Edgar Hoover sent in a rugged former Texas Ranger named Tom White, then nearly forty. Grann's writing intrigues as he follows the gutsy, incorruptible White in his dogged search for the killers and in the trial that followed. Grann's sedulous efforts at research really shine, after spending years poring over FBI files, records and field reports of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, court testimony, diaries and what seems like truckloads of other documents. In the final section, Grann describes how his own inquisitiveness led to findings of a wider circle of complicity and of further, more nefarious wrongdoing: matters that seeped through the cracks of the investigations, were intentionally neglected, or needed deeper digging and connecting of disparate "coincidences" and circumstances. What Grann found is an appalling betrayal of these Native Americans inherent in the system whereby they had already been forced to take land in exchange for losing their homes and way of life. The American government gave them the Oklahoma land but maintained legal title to the property As Trustee for the Osage on the thought that the Osage were unable to act in their own best interests. This presumption of incompetency led to a sort of cottage industry whereby a white businessman or lawyer would file a petition to be appointed as Guardian for the Indian, which would be granted as a matter of course. To say more would spoil pleasure in reading this mesmeric and infuriating book. The book convincingly and unsparingly airs a string of crimes against the Osage that reveals a festering thorn in our nation's history: the appalling mistreatment of Native Americans and a malfeasance at the heart of the system established to "protect" them. Killers of the Flower Moon also provides an incisive, balanced report on the inception of the FBI, and the very real need for a federal law enforcement agency for certain crimes that would not be prosecuted due to local criminal influence and racketeering. An important, high caliber read that will make you cringe at the inhumanity of humans and appalled (again) at the treatment of Native Americans.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    A good book friend of mine says that the best nonfiction reads like fiction, and Killers of the Flower Moon is that. I soak up any books seeped in culture. What I learned about Osage culture was a corollary to the compelling, deeply disturbing, Reign of Terror that happened to the Osage during the early 1900s. I saw this book covered on The View earlier this week, which pleased me because this is one of those important books you wish everyone would read. Compassion would run a little deeper, and A good book friend of mine says that the best nonfiction reads like fiction, and Killers of the Flower Moon is that. I soak up any books seeped in culture. What I learned about Osage culture was a corollary to the compelling, deeply disturbing, Reign of Terror that happened to the Osage during the early 1900s. I saw this book covered on The View earlier this week, which pleased me because this is one of those important books you wish everyone would read. Compassion would run a little deeper, and maybe history would be less likely to repeat itself. While there were some difficult topics, and the book is centered around the large number of murders of the Osage who were killed due to greed, there was also good triumphing over evil and truly beautiful, selfless people I enjoyed reading about, like Tom White and Mollie Burkhart. I don't know if I'll ever forget this book or what happened to the Osage. Highly recommended to everyone. 2017 Summer Vacation Book #3

  16. 5 out of 5

    Beata

    This is a powefrul book on murders committed on Osage people during the second decade of the 20th century. The author is an investigative journalist and does a tremendous job bringing this tragic story to the general public. I was astounded and could not put this book down...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Paula Kalin

    This book was nominated for a lot of awards, but for me it didn’t live up to it’s praise. The cold-blooded murders of the Osage American Indians was a tragic part of American history. Full of greed and racism. The book, however, was too long and repetitive. The greed behind the murders and the disregard for Osage lives was not enough for a full book. There wasn’t much written about the birth of the FBI either. I would have liked to have seen more. I listened to the audiobook and wasn’t impressed This book was nominated for a lot of awards, but for me it didn’t live up to it’s praise. The cold-blooded murders of the Osage American Indians was a tragic part of American history. Full of greed and racism. The book, however, was too long and repetitive. The greed behind the murders and the disregard for Osage lives was not enough for a full book. There wasn’t much written about the birth of the FBI either. I would have liked to have seen more. I listened to the audiobook and wasn’t impressed by the first narrator who talked about two Osage women, Anna and Mollie, for it seems half the book. Too much information was repeated. I preferred listening about the tracking of the killers by Tom White whom was sent to the oil-rich territory of Oklahoma by Hoover to get the crimes solved. 3.5 out of 5 stars

  18. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    “History is a merciless judge. It lays bare our tragic blunders and foolish missteps and exposes our most intimate secrets, wielding the power of hindsight like an arrogant detective who seems to know the end of the mystery from the outset.” - David Grann, Killers of the Flower Moon David Grann’s Killers of the Flower Moon is an irresistible combination: part history, part true crime, and part journalistic memoir, it sheds a bright light on a dark corner of our nation’s history, one that has been “History is a merciless judge. It lays bare our tragic blunders and foolish missteps and exposes our most intimate secrets, wielding the power of hindsight like an arrogant detective who seems to know the end of the mystery from the outset.” - David Grann, Killers of the Flower Moon David Grann’s Killers of the Flower Moon is an irresistible combination: part history, part true crime, and part journalistic memoir, it sheds a bright light on a dark corner of our nation’s history, one that has been mostly forgotten with time. Following the American Civil War, the Osage Nation, which had been living on a reservation in Kansas, were relocated to “Indian Territory,” comprising parts of present-day Oklahoma. Unlike other Indian tribes, the Osage were able to purchase their reservation. Even when the U.S. government came calling, trying to slice and dice the reservation into “allotments,” the Osage kept their mineral rights. This “underground reservation” proved a incredibly lucrative with the discovery of oil beneath Osage land. In the 1920s, oil leases made the Osage some of the richest people in the world. As Grann recounts, they were able to build big houses, send their children off to fancy schools, and even, in some cases, hire white servants. It was a rare instance in American history where an Indian tribe actually came out on top. Unfortunately, it did not last. Perhaps, in America, it could not last. The Osage County of this time period still resembled the “Wild West.” Outlaws such as the Al Spencer Gang (which sounds like a band, but isn’t, but maybe should be, so dibs on the name) roamed the plains, murdering and thieving as in days of yore. At this confluence of the modern and the past, the Osage started dying under mysterious circumstances. Some died violently, shot execution-style, bodies left to rot. Others died slowly, poisoned by toxic substances that could not be identified (in much the same manner as ex-Russian spies in Great Britain). Officially, 24 Osage Indians were murdered in the so-called Reign of Terror. But as Osage historians have contended, and as Grann agrees, the true tally probably ran into the hundreds. They were killed for their headrights, and the access to oil money those headrights bestowed. Grann focuses his narrative around Mollie Burkhart and her family. The Burkhart clan was a prime target for the Osage murder(s), and one by one, the people closest to her began to die. Soon, Mollie feared even to leave her house. Grann does his best to unravel this nearly century-old crime, but you have to pay close attention to keep the many characters straight. Especially since – cue the voice of Keith Morrison – everyone is a suspect. Parallel to the Osage murders, Grann also tells the story of the rise of the Bureau of Investigation (now the FBI) under its demanding and particular leader, J. Edgar Hoover. Here, he closely follows Agent Tom White, a dogged investigator who refused to lose hope, even as some of the suspects attempted to buy off witnesses, co-conspirators, and the jury itself. Overlaying the murders and subsequent inquiry is the treatment of the Osage by white individuals and institutions. By a quirk of geography, the Osage ended up sitting on a winning lottery ticket. Even as they became, in Grann’s words, the richest people per capita in the world, the vultures started circling. The U.S. Government appointed guardians for the Osage, meaning they could not spend their money freely, but rather had to get approval for expenditures. Many of these conservators were self-dealers or simple crooks. The Osage were also charged ridiculously inflated prices. An undertaker hired to bury one of the murder victims charged $6,000, a present-day sum of $80,000. Grann is a journalist for the New Yorker. His article Trial By Fire, on a man executed on junk arson science, is one of the best things I’ve ever read. He is incredibly talented, though at times I felt he was trying to stretch this out a bit more than it could bear. The final third of Killers of the Flower Moon is a first-person account of Grann’s experience researching the book. He talks of uncovering new evidence, finding lost manuscripts, and interviewing Osage men and women who still live in the shadow of these crimes. I actually enjoyed this section quite a bit, but it felt tacked on, an unnatural extension of a story that had already reached its conclusion. Killers of the Flower Moon feel’s like this year’s Devil in the White City. It’s the title that will be on everyone’s bookshelf, wherever you go. I have friends who seldom (if ever) read books recommending this with passionate raves. It is a quintessential example of popular history, an accessible and well-paced look at an event that most of us have never heard of before (though, at the time, it made all the headlines). Based on my expectations coming in, this felt a bit underwhelming. That’s not to say I hated it, or disliked it, or even thought it was average. It’s good. It really is. I flew through it. But I’m not about to get David Grann’s face tattooed on my back (which is what usually happens, when I love what I’ve read). The highest praise I can give about Killers of the Flower Moon, the thing I appreciated most, is that it makes an important point in an entertaining way. Grann sucks you in with an old fashioned murder mystery, an early 20th century episode of 48 Hours of Dateline. But as you are pondering the solution, Grann is also delivering an evenhanded indictment on the prejudicial treatment of American Indians. Everyone who pays the slightest attention to history knows about the treaties, the broken promises, the reservation system, and the forced assimilation that accompanied America’s westward expansion. That tale should be tragedy enough. Here, though, you see what happened when a tribe actually succeeded, when they tried to play the game of capitalism, of oil leases and income streams. For their trouble they were patronized, treated as incompetents, cheated, and – in an unknown number of cases – killed with impunity. Killers of the Flower Moon is a riddle wrapped in a bitter chronicle of greed, bloodshed, and racism.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Forsyth

    It's been a few months since a book truly grabbed me, both heart and mind, and wouldn't let me go. David Grann's latest is a compelling argument that he is the finest narrative non-fiction writer alive today. The story here is unbelievable, thrilling and heartbreaking, and the reporting is first-rate, penetrating and immersive. A moving elegy about the horrible abuses inflicted on indigenous peoples, a crackling whodunit set in the lawless frontier, a sobering examination of the corrupting influ It's been a few months since a book truly grabbed me, both heart and mind, and wouldn't let me go. David Grann's latest is a compelling argument that he is the finest narrative non-fiction writer alive today. The story here is unbelievable, thrilling and heartbreaking, and the reporting is first-rate, penetrating and immersive. A moving elegy about the horrible abuses inflicted on indigenous peoples, a crackling whodunit set in the lawless frontier, a sobering examination of the corrupting influence of money and oil, and even a kind of haunting domestic thriller, KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON is not to be missed when it releases in April.

  20. 5 out of 5

    L.A. Starks

    Everyone should read this book. I grew up in the county next to Osage, bought the book at an indie bookstore nearby when Grann was on his tour, and have researched Oklahoma history. So I am more familiar than most with the Osage saga, having heard the general stories. However, Grann has done a phenomenal job of researching as many of the Osage murders as possible (twenty-four are documented but there appear to have been far more), and of giving a picture of the ongoing predation to which the Osag Everyone should read this book. I grew up in the county next to Osage, bought the book at an indie bookstore nearby when Grann was on his tour, and have researched Oklahoma history. So I am more familiar than most with the Osage saga, having heard the general stories. However, Grann has done a phenomenal job of researching as many of the Osage murders as possible (twenty-four are documented but there appear to have been far more), and of giving a picture of the ongoing predation to which the Osage were subject between 1907 and the early 1930s. They were known far and wide as "the richest people on earth" but that fame had a dark side: it led to many non-Osage embedding themselves in the county and then seeking to take over Osage tribal member fortunes through the acquisition of head-rights. Very often a marriage between a non-Osage and an Osage was followed by the Osage being slowly poisoned and dying. In one case, a family was bombed. Local and state law enforcement was either corrupt, part of the crime, or if in pursuit of justice for the cases, killed. Grann outlines how Osage family after family lost members--young adults, even children--to murder. He also details more precisely the role of Tom White and the FBI in finally prosecuting the most notorious ringleaders. To his credit, he doesn't stop there--towards the end of the book Grann finds evidence of even more Osage murders that were never identified as such and thus not prosecuted. As if a reminder were needed, this book shows how the "good old days" were bad--especially as the law was routinely subverted--and how the mineral wealth of the Osage brought its own kind of curse due to the greed and jealousy of others. As I have said in endnotes to STRIKE PRICE, there are elements of Oklahoma history--the Osage murders are one, the Tulsa riot another--that have been covered up for too long. Grann has done the Osage, and all of us, a tremendous service with this history.

  21. 3 out of 5

    Bark

    This book pieces together a brutal piece of history and unravels an ugly murder mystery. It’s disturbing, depressing and, at least for me, not at all the fast moving read I was led to believe from some of the early reviews. Maybe it’s just me, but I had a difficult time sticking with it. There were so many people involved and random details tossed in that didn’t seem to move things along that to me it seemed a little too over-stuffed and hard to follow at times. Perhaps it should’ve been a littl This book pieces together a brutal piece of history and unravels an ugly murder mystery. It’s disturbing, depressing and, at least for me, not at all the fast moving read I was led to believe from some of the early reviews. Maybe it’s just me, but I had a difficult time sticking with it. There were so many people involved and random details tossed in that didn’t seem to move things along that to me it seemed a little too over-stuffed and hard to follow at times. Perhaps it should’ve been a little longer? I don’t know. I tried it first in its Kindle version which includes photos of the people involved and then I moved on to the audiobook when I found myself putting it down and not wanting to pick it back up again. The audiobook is read by three narrators and one of them, Will Patton, is one of my favorites so that definitely helped. Something about his voice just pulls you in and forces you to pay attention. This is a story about those in power who systematically attempt to eradicate an entire tribe of Indians in order to nab their wealth. First they remove them from their homeland and stick them on an unwanted patch of land (which turns out to be worth a fortune later when oil is struck), then they take their buffalo away making them dependent on the government’s money and then after the tribe has accumulated millions because they were far savvier than anyone assumed, the murdering begins. It is a terrible, awful story and it makes me heartsick that there was no justice and that these people were treated as if they were stupid children – or worse. I wasn’t expecting hearts and rainbows but I was hoping someone, somewhere would pay for all of the atrocities committed but no, the greedy and the powerful get away with murder. It’s sickening. Do I recommend it? Yes, I do. It’s an important book and appalling true story that needed to be documented. We all need to know about the evil that was done to the Osage Tribe and I am not sorry I read/listened to it but I can’t honestly say I would ever read it again. Previous reading notes: I'm putting this one on hold for a bit. I've been really struggling to get through it and am instead going to continue to wait for my number to come up for the audio version via Overdrive and read it that way. It's dense with information and history and I feel I'll absorb it better that way. My brain is too tired to read this at night after a never ending day. UPDATE: My number has come up and this is read by Will freaking Patton! Yes, this was most definitely a good decision on my part. Starting over with the audio today. I'm kind of glad I have both as I can read along with the Kindle and look at the pictures smattered about while listening to Will Patton's voice. I feel so spoiled ;)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michael Ferro

    Grann's reportage is both engrossing due to its thoroughly researched nature, and because of his adept skill as a well-rounded storyteller. KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON was a book that I had heard plenty about, obviously, and when I picked it up and read the synopsis, I suppose I was no different from many others who thought: "Murdered Native Americans? Perhaps hundreds of them? For their oil money?? A potential FBI cover-up!? WHEN? HOW?" Of course, I couldn't wait to start reading; I was certainl Grann's reportage is both engrossing due to its thoroughly researched nature, and because of his adept skill as a well-rounded storyteller. KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON was a book that I had heard plenty about, obviously, and when I picked it up and read the synopsis, I suppose I was no different from many others who thought: "Murdered Native Americans? Perhaps hundreds of them? For their oil money?? A potential FBI cover-up!? WHEN? HOW?" Of course, I couldn't wait to start reading; I was certainly not disappointed, other than in myself for somehow never knowing about this tragic period in our nation's history. If nothing else (though there is plenty else), Grann's book will set an incredible number of atrocious wrongs right. This is the true measure and worth of a great work of nonfiction: What does it uncover? What public service has it served? And has the truth finally been revealed? In a case like the Reign of Terror for the Osage Indians, this book is invaluable to all Americans. Grann has given a voice to the dead—murdered actually—those who were killed for greed, racism, and malice and their families who have suffered for nearly a century left wondering what happened. This massive cultural impact and popularity of this book is a godsend; let it be taught in schools and used in law enforcement training. The moment we forget history, we are doomed to repeat it. We are doing so now, but books like KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON can help right out path again. There is only one indispensable thing in the world and that is truth. Sometimes the truth is ugly, unbearable, and heartbreaking. That is the truth that we need to understand the most.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dem

    What an amazing insight into The Osage Indian murders which occurred in the early 1920s in Osage county Oklahoma. I had never heard of these murders and when I read reviews on this book by David Grann I really was keen to learn what happened to these people. Between 1921 and 1925 over 60 Osage were killed, and these crimes appear to have been committed by greedy individuals in order to take over the Osage lands which were rich in oil and were worth vast sums of money. Newspapers of the time desc What an amazing insight into The Osage Indian murders which occurred in the early 1920s in Osage county Oklahoma. I had never heard of these murders and when I read reviews on this book by David Grann I really was keen to learn what happened to these people. Between 1921 and 1925 over 60 Osage were killed, and these crimes appear to have been committed by greedy individuals in order to take over the Osage lands which were rich in oil and were worth vast sums of money. Newspapers of the time described the increasing number of unsolved murders as the "Reign of Terror". an extremely well researched and written account by David Grann, this is a book that informs and educates the reader as well as being a terrific true life crime story well worth reading.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dianne

    This is a remarkable and horrifying piece of American history that screams to be read! I had never heard of the Osage "Reign of Terror." This true story is really a dual story; the mass murder of wealthy Osage Indians in Oklahoma for their oil headrights in the 1920s and 30s and the forming of the FBI. It's an amazing piece of investigative reporting and very well put together. There are so many characters it can be hard to keep track of who is who, but hang in there. If you think the U.S. is me This is a remarkable and horrifying piece of American history that screams to be read! I had never heard of the Osage "Reign of Terror." This true story is really a dual story; the mass murder of wealthy Osage Indians in Oklahoma for their oil headrights in the 1920s and 30s and the forming of the FBI. It's an amazing piece of investigative reporting and very well put together. There are so many characters it can be hard to keep track of who is who, but hang in there. If you think the U.S. is messed up now, read this - institutional racism, greed, corruption, conspiracy....and just pure, unadulterated evil. Kudos to David Grann for this scholarly effort and bringing this piece of neglected history to light. I especially treasure the photographs included. It brings the story and the characters to life.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Esil

    By a complete twist of history, the Osage who were ousted from their own land during the 19th century were relocated to a part of the US that turned out to be a huge source of oil. While the oil brought tremendous prosperity to the Osage, it also brought greedy unscrupulous assassins who decimated and terrified these people with little protection from law enforcement or the courts. I listened to the audio of Killers of the Flower Moon. The three parts are cleverly read by different narrators. Th By a complete twist of history, the Osage who were ousted from their own land during the 19th century were relocated to a part of the US that turned out to be a huge source of oil. While the oil brought tremendous prosperity to the Osage, it also brought greedy unscrupulous assassins who decimated and terrified these people with little protection from law enforcement or the courts. I listened to the audio of Killers of the Flower Moon. The three parts are cleverly read by different narrators. The first part focuses on the history of a few individual member of the Osage who were killed in the early 20th century. The second part is about the investigation and trial of some of those killings. And the third part is the author's own take on what was missed at the time, and how much more widespread the killings likely were. Grann does an excellent job in making this tragic part of American history interesting. Often I had to give my head a shake to remind myself that this gruesome tale of widespread greed and brutality is truth and not fiction. Highly recommended to anyone interested in learning about parts of North American history that are at risk of being forgotten.

  26. 5 out of 5

    DeB MaRtEnS

    Killer's of the Flower Moon is a scorching exposé of a terrible period in American history. In the 1920s, when the American West still retained elements of lawlessness and secret codes of misplaced justice, in Oklahoma there were criminals hidden and their crimes unsolved, while these powerful white men profited off the Osage Indians misfortunes. The Osage Indians had been pushed off of their homeland and designated reserve in Kansas with the arrival of more and more white settlers. Frustrated, Killer's of the Flower Moon is a scorching exposé of a terrible period in American history. In the 1920s, when the American West still retained elements of lawlessness and secret codes of misplaced justice, in Oklahoma there were criminals hidden and their crimes unsolved, while these powerful white men profited off the Osage Indians misfortunes. The Osage Indians had been pushed off of their homeland and designated reserve in Kansas with the arrival of more and more white settlers. Frustrated, in 1871, their Chief chose the rocky outcrop in Oklahoma as their place, seeing it as somewhere that settlers would not see as advantageous for farming, and allowing the Osage to finally collect as a people. All was great until oil was discovered on their land, and prospectors and speculators came out to get oil leases. Osage owned the underground mineral rights, and the tribe became very wealthy. A series of suspicious deaths, compromised investigations locally and the increasingly frightened tribe put pressure on the federal government, which in turn brought in the very fledgling FBI service. J. Edgar Hoover would make his mark on this case, and win over the country for the need for a nation investigative police force. David Gramm gives a thorough, detailed and compassionate report on this terrible time in American history. The white man's antipathy toward the Red Man, the envy of their wealth and their devaluing of the people themselves, supported by a racist and entitled stance left the tribe in the clutches of villainously callous greedy "guardians". These were appointed under the guise of managing the "savages" income, by the government, yet many were bankrupted, and murdered for those riches. The horror of what is known as "The Reign of Terror" continues to cast long shadows over their descendants even today, a hundred years hence. David Gramm's investigation of thousands more records led to the discovery of an even bigger story, led by greed and powered by evil. The story gets a bit thick with facts midway, but a bit of skimming through the lists and lists of field agents, dry data and repetition of the facts of the case, checked and doubled checked against liar and truthtellers numerous times, eased that and hustled me back onto an otherwise steady and at times, pressing pace. There is a great deal to think about, upon closing the last page of this story. It is an important in America's profile of itself historically and certainly says a great deal about the country and how it claims its identity. Highly recommended. Advanced reader copy made available through RandomHouse Canada. Publishing date April 14, 2017. *A recommendation from Library Reads New Books for April.

  27. 5 out of 5

    JanB

    The blurb: “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. The newly created F.B.I. took up the case, in what became one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations.” This book surpasses any fictional murder mystery – the fact th The blurb: “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. The newly created F.B.I. took up the case, in what became one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations.” This book surpasses any fictional murder mystery – the fact that it’s true and took place in this country in the not-too-distant past makes it even more horrifying. Before reading this book, I knew little of the Osage Indians and the injustices done to them. It’s shameful that this wasn’t taught in American history classes. The horrifying crimes, the cover-ups, the bungled investigations, and, finally, the newly created FBI’s involvement makes for riveting reading. Given the atrocities that take place all over the world, I shouldn’t be surprised at the greed, envy, prejudice, and evil that lurks in men’s hearts, but I am. This is a book that should be read by everyone, and is a part of our history that should never be forgotten. Highly recommended.

  28. 4 out of 5

    LeAnne

    EDITED UPDATE: I recently saw that the works of Laura Ingalls wilder have now been put on some sort of list of controversial books. Because she and her books are mentioned here in this nonfictional account, I wonder if that had something to do with it. I mean really, when was the last time you had someone bring up Laura Ingalls Wilder as semi-racist? Pretty ridiculous. ORIGINAL REVIEW: Okay, think right now about your neighborhood or your apartment complex. Consider your various neighbors and that EDITED UPDATE: I recently saw that the works of Laura Ingalls wilder have now been put on some sort of list of controversial books. Because she and her books are mentioned here in this nonfictional account, I wonder if that had something to do with it. I mean really, when was the last time you had someone bring up Laura Ingalls Wilder as semi-racist? Pretty ridiculous. ORIGINAL REVIEW: Okay, think right now about your neighborhood or your apartment complex. Consider your various neighbors and that all of a sudden, 2 out of every 10 of them was about to be murdered. For the affluent citizens of Osage County - native Americans - that's precisely what went on for years. Why in the world don't we all already know this story? Stunning content in this work of nonfiction. Apparently swiping the entire country from native peoples, then rounding them up like cattle and sending them onto plots of hideous, mostly unusable land was not enough. Turns out that the Osage tribe, now compressed into one area in Oklahoma, at least had savvy enough leadership to accept the terms of their confinement but to demand mineral rights below ground. Surely you've read the book blurb - oil-rich Osages were murdered right and left back in the 1920s by somebody who either had an axe to grind or theft in mind. Whether it was a gunshot to the back of the head, poisoning, or bombing, after the first half dozen tribal members were assassinated, private investigators were hired by the wealthy tribe. Good men tried to garner help from Washington, DC but were stabbed to death or thrown from moving trains. I'll spare you the details but promise you'll be stunned. Estimates tell us that hundreds of tribal members were murdered (more than 60 were assassinated in just one four-year span!) with suspicious deaths occurring for sixteen years. There were deaths from 'wasting illnesses' and unusual maladies that at the time were labeled as being from natural causes, but it turns out, we still do not know the full toll of the murders because toxins were used frequently. Some of the poisonings were obvious - frothing, seizures in otherwise healthy adults who suddenly became ill and perished quickly. When the dead hit the two dozen mark, young J. Edgar Hoover was called in to assemble an army of FBI investigators, and even they were stymied for a very long time. Beyond the obvious outrage over killing innocents, the other eye opener was how the wealth of the tribe was 'managed' by the government. Because the income from oil productions was so massive, the Indians were deemed too ill educated (or otherwise inferior) to be able to responsibly handle their assets. 'Concern' was that they'd blow the money and not leave any left for civic improvements or their heirs. This supposed concern for their welfare was to blame for a guardianship program. Essentially, the Osage were treated like minor children whose sponsors would allot financial allowance to them. They legally HAD the wealth but could not access it freely. Good stuff: the author did an exceptional job of research and deserves every accolade awarded. The book is masterful in its details of the lives and deaths of the victims, but also the heroes who risked death themselves to bring this tribe and our nation justice. Bad stuff? You're going to question the morality of our species. And you may wonder why this awfulness was swept under the carpet. In sum, if you enjoyed reading "The Devil and the White City" or "The Revenant" or "Into the Wild" then this is one you'll want to get your hands on. I've heard this will be made into a film, but I encourage you to read it first. You won't believe your eyes.

  29. 3 out of 5

    William2

    The depiction of human venality here will set your hair on fire. The Osage Indians, whose reservation happened to be on a major oil reserve, were in the 1920s set upon by an army of white grifters who murdered them for their wealth. And the entire white institutional infrastructure in and around Osage County, Oklahoma—lawyers, bankers, judges, retailers, housewives et al.—were complicit in the killing. The book is an object lesson in concise storytelling. It contains nothing superfluous. It’s a The depiction of human venality here will set your hair on fire. The Osage Indians, whose reservation happened to be on a major oil reserve, were in the 1920s set upon by an army of white grifters who murdered them for their wealth. And the entire white institutional infrastructure in and around Osage County, Oklahoma—lawyers, bankers, judges, retailers, housewives et al.—were complicit in the killing. The book is an object lesson in concise storytelling. It contains nothing superfluous. It’s a stunning port-wine reduction of a tale. Grann has learned his lessons well from Truman Capote (In Cold Blood) and Norman Mailer (The Executioner’s Song) and has matched them exquisitely. A superb nonfiction novel. The short, compulsively readable chapters give one the sense of actually hurtling through the narrative.

  30. 3 out of 5

    Char

    Killers of the Flower Moon is the true story of the slaughter of dozens of Osage Indians and how MANY people got away with it. It's SO over the top that if this were a fiction story I would say the author had overwritten it and that it wasn't realistic. David Grann has come at this story from two angles. The Osage tribe reigned over much of the mid-west back in the day. By the time of this book, roughly the early 1920's, they were mostly moved onto what was thought to be worthless land in Okla Killers of the Flower Moon is the true story of the slaughter of dozens of Osage Indians and how MANY people got away with it. It's SO over the top that if this were a fiction story I would say the author had overwritten it and that it wasn't realistic. David Grann has come at this story from two angles. The Osage tribe reigned over much of the mid-west back in the day. By the time of this book, roughly the early 1920's, they were mostly moved onto what was thought to be worthless land in Oklahoma. Then oil was discovered there and their lives changed forever. The first angle was how the Osage were changed by the sudden influx of millions of dollars and how the white man viewed that; how they were jealous over that, and what they did about that. The second angle comes from the law enforcement side of the story, and specifically the building up of the FBI. At the time the first murders occurred the FBI wasn't the FBI yet. By the time the investigation was in full swing, (keeping in mind that the Osage tribe had to basically beg and pay through the nose to get anyone to investigate or do anything at all about these murders), the FBI was officially called that and Mr. Hoover was in charge. There is a third portion of the book, not exactly another angle, but a portion so unbelievable yet proven,(to my mind at least), to be true that it actually brought tears to my eyes. I can't get into more detail but trust me on this: it was horrifying. It was shameful. It was a wrong that's never been righted and I don't believe it ever can be. Bravo to Mr. Grann for his extensive research on this case. A case that, until now, I had never heard of. That is an injustice. I believe Mr. Grann has done his damnedest to bring to light the wrongs that were committed here, and that alone is the only justice that the Osage can hope for at this late date. I think we owe it to the Osage to read this book, and as such, I highly recommend it. *Thanks to NetGalley and Random House/Doubleday for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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