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GHOST FLAMES

LIFE AND DEATH IN A HIDDEN WAR, KOREA 1950-1953

A top-notch addition to the literature on the Korean War.

A Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist forges a masterly new history of the Korean War through character studies of the participants caught in the conflict.

During his 40-year career at the Associated Press, Hanley reported from nearly 100 countries around the world, and his journalistic talents are on full display in his latest book. He also demonstrates a novelist’s touch and a wonderful ear for dialogue and detail. He builds his history via observers’ testimonies about the war, from the initial invasion of South Korea by North Korean troops on June 25, 1950, to the stunning “morning of silent guns” on July 28, 1953. The characters Hanley chooses to highlight aptly represent the diversity of people involved, from refugees and soldiers on both sides to U.S. military leaders like Matthew Ridgway, appointed Far East commander by Harry Truman after certain miscalculations by Gen. Douglas MacArthur. In countless poignant snapshots, the author describes harrowing, often horrific experiences, including those of Sister Mary Mercy at a clinic in Pusan, where “sanitation is abysmal and disease endemic,” and “existing facilities fall far short of what’s needed to deal with the typhoid, typhus, smallpox, and tuberculosis spreading through the refugee population”; and South Korean AP journalist Bill Shinn, who tried to cover the conflict while protecting his family. Elsewhere, Hanley discusses numerous witnesses to the horrendous retaliation by both North and South Korean troops in terms of executions and mass burials as well as American troops’ “depravity” in torturing and raping the local population. The author also details the conditions at the POW camps, including Pyoktong, where a black American soldier endured not only an existence of “simple misery,” but also racist taunts from fellow American soldiers in the camp. In addition to excellent maps and a chronology, Hanley provides photos of the characters and an “After the War” section about each of them. The accretion of astounding detail makes for a vivid, multilayered look at a deeply complicated war in which few emerged as heroic.

A top-notch addition to the literature on the Korean War.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5417-6817-8

Page Count: 528

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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