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A FIRST-CLASS CATASTROPHE

THE ROAD TO BLACK MONDAY, THE WORST DAY IN WALL STREET HISTORY

Solid economic reportage. Investors who remember the events of 30 years ago will blanch all over again, especially at the...

Financial journalist Henriques (The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust, 2011, etc.) turns her gaze on the catastrophic Wall Street collapse of 1987, “the contagious crisis that the system nearly didn’t survive.”

The crash of 1929 was miserable, the dot-com bubble burst of 2000 inconvenient, and the financial collapse of 2008 frightening. All these pale, however, to the events of Oct. 19, 1987, Black Monday, a one-day decline of 22.6 percent. To reach the same level today, writes the author, the Dow Jones would have to fall by 5,000 points. As Henriques writes, it was a perfect storm of allied causes, all of them ones that would ring true to cautious investors today: the financial firms had become too big, certainly too big to fail, while computer-mediated trades and other flashy innovations placed the exchange beyond immediate human reach. As bad or worse, the same ideology, the same set of academic theories, was driving Wall Street, leading to a monoculture of investment that was ripe to fail from the start. The author, a longtime New York Times writer and winner of the George Polk Award, delivers an account that is not for the financially naïve or the innumerate; a typical passage reads, “unfortunately, there were CBOE limits on how many options any one investor could hold at one time, and LOR was already ‘insuring’ accounts too large to fit easily within those limits.” Those who can read past the financial wonkiness, though, will be well-served by Henriques’ insights into the ascent of the quants and the concentration of big capital into fewer and fewer hands—trends that, she notes, continue to accelerate as investment strategies become “even more obscure.”

Solid economic reportage. Investors who remember the events of 30 years ago will blanch all over again, especially at the author’s suggestion that worse may be yet to come.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-164-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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