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THE INTERPRETER

Kaplan illuminates some abhorrent recent history that the Army would likely prefer to forget.

Justice for all? Not in the Jim Crow U.S. Army of WWII, as a French civilian discovered, to his horror.

Louis Guilloux, one of France’s leading novelists in the 1930s, prided himself on his knowledge of Russian literature, especially that of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. The authors’ ironic sense of what happens when the law is badly served came to the fore when, as Kaplan (French/Duke Univ.; The Collaborator, 2000) documents, Guilloux was hired as an interpreter for and intermediary between the newly liberated people of Brittany and the Third Army under George S. Patton, who voiced concern for the “increasing number of crimes against French civilians which are being committed within the Army, particularly by service troops.” By service troops, Patton meant black GIs attached to quartermaster, ordnance and transportation companies behind the lines, and he warned that some charges, including rape, would carry the death penalty. Only hours after Patton’s warning was issued, a black GI named James Hendricks went off after a drinking bout and allegedly killed a French civilian and sexually assaulted the dead man’s wife; after a trial in which Guilloux served as interpreter, Hendricks was sentenced to die and was publicly hanged, though his family in North Carolina were told only that he died as a result of misconduct. Guilloux discerned a pattern: “The guilty were always black,” he noted, “so much so that even the stupidest of men would have ended up asking himself how it was possible that there be so much crime on one side, and so much virtue on the other.” As Kaplan demonstrates, that virtue was illusory: In one case that she closely documents, a white American officer murdered an Austrian attached to Free French forces but was readily acquitted, while black soldiers—including civil-rights martyr Emmett Till’s father—were executed for capital crimes, making up 55 of the 70 Americans thus killed in Europe from 1943 to 1946.

Kaplan illuminates some abhorrent recent history that the Army would likely prefer to forget.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-5424-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2005

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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.

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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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