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ALARIC THE GOTH

AN OUTSIDER'S HISTORY OF THE FALL OF ROME

An admirable history of a lesser-known Roman era.

A fresh look at a little-known corner of the history of the Roman Empire.

Alaric, born around 370 C.E., led an army that sacked Rome in 410; this expert history describes his life but mostly his times. Boin, a professor of history and the author of Coming Out Christian in the Roman World, emphasizes that Rome’s “decline and fall” was a concept invented by later historians. No fourth- or fifth-century Roman believed the empire was “falling” even though times were difficult. Almost nothing is known of Alaric’s early life, and only a few historians, not all of whom were contemporaries, recorded his later accomplishments, most of which were military actions. Alaric was born into a Gothic tribe that, a few years later, under pressure from Huns invading from the north, migrated into Roman territory. As recent immigrants, they were denied the benefits of Roman citizenship, which caused resentment as well as economic hardship. By the second century, Romans had lost interest in most military matters, so the army had become dependent on “barbarians.” Alaric enlisted as a young man and quickly rose to high rank. Around 395, having won an important victory, he quit the emperor’s service, apparently frustrated at being denied promotion, and was elected ruler of his tribe (later known as Visigoths). For the remainder of his life, he fought against Rome, invaded and plundered Greece, and laid siege to Rome three times. Twice, he was bought off, but the third attack resulted in the sack, during which his men plundered but (rare for the time) did not massacre the citizens. A few months later, as his army and tribe wandered Italy, he died. Although Alaric never comes fully to life as an individual, Boin delivers a revealing account of the late Roman empire, which was misgoverned, retreating from its frontier provinces, and almost perpetually at war but still certain it was the epitome of civilization.

An admirable history of a lesser-known Roman era.

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-393-63569-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Norton

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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