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THE ODYSSEY OF PHILLIS WHEATLEY

A POET'S JOURNEYS THROUGH AMERICAN SLAVERY AND INDEPENDENCE

Wheatley’s poetry comes into sharper focus, but Wheatley herself remains elusive.

A biography of the Phillis Wheatley focused on her poetry and the politics of Revolutionary-era America.

Waldstreicher, a history professor and author of Slavery’s Constitution and Runaway America, documents Wheatley’s arrival in Boston on the slave ship Phillis, her purchase by Susanna Wheatley in 1761, her storied writing career, and her life after emancipation. The author’s primary focus, however, is Wheatley’s work, about which he offers many intriguing insights. This book, he writes, is “a joint exercise in history and literary criticism.” Waldstreicher argues that Wheatley gave “subversive and productive meanings” to her classical and neoclassical-inspired poetry, becoming both a “political actor and an artist of quality and note” in the 18th-century world she inhabited, a world marked by the “abominable hypocrisy” of American slave owners who likened their oppression by Britain to slavery. For those familiar only with Wheatley’s often anthologized “On Being Brought From Africa to America,” the breadth and depth of her poetry will be a revelation, as will her correspondence with Samson Occom and George Washington; her intimate, lifelong friendship with Obour Tanner, an enslaved woman in Newport, Rhode Island; and the details of Wheatley’s trip with her enslaver’s son to London, where she stayed for six weeks in 1763. The attention that Waldstreicher pays to the complexity of Wheatley’s identities as an African, a woman, and an enslaved person (among other identities) in his close readings of her poetry is sometimes missing from his discussion of her life. Questions like how much control Wheatley had over her own literary productions and their circulation while she was enslaved remain largely unasked. Given his focus on the political contexts and meanings of Wheatley’s work, Waldstreicher leaves room for future biographers to further examine Wheatley’s life as she became the “most famous African in North America and Europe during the era of the American Revolution.”

Wheatley’s poetry comes into sharper focus, but Wheatley herself remains elusive.

Pub Date: March 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780809098248

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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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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