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1864

LINCOLN AT THE GATES OF HISTORY

Stirring history told in rich detail.

Historian Flood (Grant and Sherman, 2005, etc.) offers an inside view of the Lincoln White House during one of the most critical years of the Civil War, focusing on the president’s battle for re-election.

The author conveys the turmoil of a period when Lincoln spent almost as much time fighting his own Cabinet as his generals did fighting the Confederacy. Flood opens with the traditional White House New Year’s Day reception, then follows all the major twists and turns of Lincoln’s fortunes during the course of 1864. A key decision came in January, when McClellan was dropped from command. The general, who privately described Lincoln as “an idiot,” became his Democratic opponent in the election. Meanwhile, Grant was transferred to the eastern front to apply new pressure to the still defiant South. The election and the war were inextricably bound; as the Union army’s fortunes changed, so did Lincoln’s prospects for returning to office. Both the Peace Democrats and the radical Republicans saw him as an enemy of their goals. Grant’s first encounters with Lee’s army led to long casualty lists, and Jubal Early’s assault on Washington in July gave Lincoln reason to despair. By late summer, he was convinced the Democrats would oust him. But just before the election, Sherman’s capture of Atlanta, backed by Sheridan’s scourging of the Shenandoah Valley, gave Lincoln the boost he needed to win. Flood orchestrates the complex events of this roller-coaster year with a sure hand, taking plenty of time to look at individual dramas away from the main scene, such as the reporter who brought news of Grant’s first Virginia battles to Washington but was nearly shot as a spy before Lincoln saved him. The author does fair justice to all the astonishing events, closing with a poignant look ahead to the president’s assassination and a letter from an admiring journalist wishing, “May God help you in the future as he has helped you in the past.”

Stirring history told in rich detail.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4165-5228-4

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2008

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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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