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LAND

HOW THE HUNGER FOR OWNERSHIP SHAPED THE MODERN WORLD

Engaging revelations about land and property, often discouraging but never dull.

The latest sweeping, satisfying popular history from the British American author and journalist, this time covering a topic that many of us take for granted.

Having bought 123 acres north of New York City, Winchester muses on what land ownership means. At the most basic level, it means that “you have the right to call the police to throw anyone else off what the title documents say belongs to you.” Bronze Age farmers began the process of defining boundaries, but human ingenuity, technology, and avarice produced increasingly accurate markers, surveys, and maps that delineated national borders, a matter of obsessive concern to governments around the world. Winchester delivers a riveting history of mapmaking, which culminated over the past few centuries as heroic surveyors trudged with their instruments thousands of miles to produce charts that were both beautiful and dazzlingly precise. (For a particularly illuminating example, see Winchester’s The Map That Changed the World.) For most of history, human yearning for land outstripped that for money, and the author offers familiar, disheartening accounts of mass acquisitions and theft: Native America (and Australia, Canada, and New Zealand) to Whites, Arab Palestine to Jewish immigrants, Africa to European powers. Readers looking for inspiration will perk up to read about the Netherlands, which acquired its land from the sea and didn’t evict anyone. Although less well known than tech billionaires, America’s land billionaires are prospering, increasing their holdings by 50% since 2007. In fact, the top 100 own land equal to the size of Florida. With some exceptions, they are strangers to public spirit and sometimes fiercely opposed to anyone setting foot on even their wilderness property. The chapters on the Stalin-ordered mass famine in Ukraine and the shameful World War II imprisonment of Japanese Americans (and confiscation of their property) make for painful reading but important historical reminders. The author also discusses climate change and the land that continues to disappear as rising temperatures melt the ice caps.

Engaging revelations about land and property, often discouraging but never dull.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-293833-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Awards & Accolades

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


  • New York Times Bestseller


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  • National Book Award Finalist

Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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