BELLEVUE

THREE CENTURIES OF MEDICINE AND MAYHEM AT AMERICA'S MOST STORIED HOSPITAL

A lively contribution to popular histories of New York and its institutions, worthy of shelving alongside Robert Caro’s The...

An eye-opening history of the Manhattan hospital whose name is a byword for asylums everywhere.

If a person is taken to Bellevue, it’s never for good reasons. It is the hospital where sick homeless people, injured construction workers, and wounded cops and robbers come, scooped up from all over Manhattan, with elite wards for the elite and less-than-elite wards for the rest. In that sense, writes Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Oshinsky (History/New York Univ., and Medical Humanities/NYU School of Medicine; Polio: An American Story, 2010, etc.), “Bellevue is a microcosm of the city it serves.” It has made news for generations, in recent years for housing John Lennon’s assassin but also for having been the death place for Stephen Foster, O. Henry, and Lead Belly. That familiarity in the popular culture, notes the author, comes at a price, for though Bellevue has an ineradicable reputation, it is the definitive public hospital, treating rich and poor, attending to every conceivable malady, its doctors researching epidemics, ushering in public health reforms, and dispensing wisdom (“Work and keep out of the easy chair….Don’t eat too much meat”). From the ER to the Insane Pavilion (“Imagines Himself a Mosquito—Now an Inmate at Bellevue,” reads one headline of yore), Oshinsky’s account focuses on people. Anecdotal, its learning lightly worn, it makes a fine complement to the medical writing of Atul Gawande and Richard Selzer. It is also full of discoveries. For instance, it should come as no comfort to anyone that electroshock therapy, in which Bellevue was a pioneer, had its origins in the electrical stun guns used to stun pigs before they were slaughtered; it looks humane, Oshinsky suggests, only against other “therapies” such as lobotomy, and it was applied to thousands of patients, “many of them children.”

A lively contribution to popular histories of New York and its institutions, worthy of shelving alongside Robert Caro’s The Power Broker and Edwin Burrows and Mike Wallace’s Gotham.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-385-52336-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Sept. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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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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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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