GHOST SHIP

THE MYSTERIOUS TRUE STORY OF THE MARY CELESTE AND HER MISSING CREW

An excellent, clear-eyed primer to one of the world’s most resilient ghost stories.

South Carolina reporter Hicks seeks to make sense of a legendary nautical mystery.

In 1872, the brigantine Mary Celeste was found drifting in the Atlantic; although the ship was in fine condition and there seemed to be nothing missing, its entire crew was gone, the last log entry dated ten days earlier. The Mary Celeste’s captain, Benjamin Spooner Briggs, came from a long line of salty New England sailors and was hardly one to capriciously abandon ship or lose control of his small crew; he didn’t even allow his sailors to drink. The vessel that found her, the Dei Gratia, was captained by David Reed Morehouse, a friend of Briggs’s who had had dinner with him in New York before their ships set out across the Atlantic. When Morehouse made the decision to claim the Celeste as salvage, this coincidence was immediately seen as suspicious and ignited a long, tangled legal battle, about which Hicks (co-author, Raising the Hunley, 2002) goes into perhaps too much detail. Over the course of more than a century, every attempt to find a plausible explanation for what happened to the crew has run aground on the shoals of improbability. The author has a good time debunking most of the more hysterical claims that have been made and even proposes a decent—though dull, and so likely true—hypothesis of his own. Hicks knows when to pull back, though, and admit that there are certain things that are just plain creepy, like the strange last log entry, “Francis my own dear wife Francis N.R.,” or the undeniable string of bad luck that afflicted every owner of the Mary Celeste before and after the incident. She was finally deliberately sunk in 1885 in a badly managed insurance scam.

An excellent, clear-eyed primer to one of the world’s most resilient ghost stories.

Pub Date: June 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-345-46391-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2004

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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

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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