COFFEELAND

ONE MAN'S DARK EMPIRE AND THE MAKING OF OUR FAVORITE DRUG

An intriguing account that darkens the depths of that daily cup of joe.

A broad-ranging, often surprising study of the economics and political ecology of coffee.

Drawing alongside such studies as Stanley Mintz’s Sweetness and Power and Tom Standage’s A History of the World in Six Glasses, Sedgewick, a professor of history and American studies, debuts with an examination of the intersection of people from different parts of the world in forging an extractive colonial economy. One was a Brazilian immigrant to El Salvador who arrived in the mid-1800s and set to work nudging the agricultural economy away from indigo and toward coffee. That deal was sealed with the arrival, decades later, of another immigrant, this one from England. James Hill, writes the author, oversaw the conversion of that agricultural economy to the monocultural production of coffee, with coffee plantations that eventually took up a huge percentage of the country’s arable land. All of this was done in concert with American markets, with the timing just right for the arrival of immigrants to the U.S. who came from coffee-drinking Mediterranean societies. It also appealed to a change of tastes that, in its day, had children both drinking and growing the stuff, with Danish immigrant Jacob Riis observing in New York “men and boys of all ages crowded around one-cent coffee stalls on the street.” Sedgewick casts a wide net in his capably written book, observing, for instance, that liberals in newly independent El Salvador had once made advances to the U.S. to be incorporated as a state. Moreover, he links the rise of the coffee monoculture to the development of an enriched ruling class in that country but also an immiseration of the peasantry: “The transformation of the volcanic highlands into a coffee monoculture transformed the diet of El Salvador’s working people into a flat, featureless landscape of tortillas and beans.” Meanwhile, workers in the U.S. became so dependent on coffee, and so powerful in times of labor shortage, that the coffee break was enshrined in the nation’s culture and remains so today.

An intriguing account that darkens the depths of that daily cup of joe.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-59420-615-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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

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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