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A WAR OF FRONTIER AND EMPIRE

THE PHILIPPINE-AMERICAN WAR, 1899-1902

Ironic, bloody, full of foreshadowing: a solid work.

A big-picture account of an unremembered war that has uncomfortable parallels with ugly little wars that followed.

Silbey (History/Alvernia Coll.) maintains academic distance, so let the reader insert the appropriate names. A ruler forges from a congeries of tribes a rudimentary nation. Another nation invades, ostensibly to free those tribespeople from oppression. The invader churns up resistance that truly unifies those hitherto scattered tribespeople. Silbey worries at the outset how to characterize the conflict: “If there was no Philippine nation to engage in war or be conquered . . . what happened in the archipelago from 1899 to 1902 was an insurgency, not a war.” Fine distinctions aside, the Americans certainly considered it a war, and so did the Filipinos, and so did subsequent Filipino historians whose work Silbey takes into account, unlike some earlier histories of what has thus been called the Philippine-American War. Silbey is good on the overall shape of the conflict, whose preamble is rebel leader Emilio Aguinaldo’s innocent remark to American officers: “I have studied attentively the Constitution of the United States and in it I find no authority for colonies and I have no fear.” He had reasons to be afraid, as Filipino forces began to suffer casualties that outnumbered American losses. Massacres ensued on both sides—and Silbey says too little about the American counterinsurgency techniques, among them assassination and torture, that led Mark Twain to suggest that the stars on our flag be replaced with skulls. It was a war against “niggers,” “gooks,” “chinks” and “redskins,” and on this racist dimension Silbey is quite good. When one black detachment arrived to fight, he notes, a white man yelled, “What are you coons doing here?” The reply came from several black soldiers at once: “We have come to take up the White Man’s Burden.”

Ironic, bloody, full of foreshadowing: a solid work.

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2007

ISBN: 0-8090-7187-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2006

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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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