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CHESAPEAKE REQUIEM

A YEAR WITH THE WATERMEN OF VANISHING TANGIER ISLAND

A well-rendered narrative about how one specific island’s fate stands as a warning for all coastal regions.

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Land and culture erode on an island in the Chesapeake Bay.

Journalist Swift (Auto Biography: A Classic Car, An Outlaw Motorhead, and 57 Years of the American Dream, 2014, etc.) spent more than a year on Tangier Island, among crab fishermen and their families, in 2000 and again in late fall 2015. In a graceful melding of history, nature writing, and perceptive cultural commentary, the author offers an affectionate portrait of the island and its “God-fearing, self-reliant,” close-knit residents—now numbering under 500. Although Tangier currently faces new social problems—drugs, alcohol (on an island defiantly dry), and loss of young people to the mainland—the island “is more Norman Rockwell than real American town, with morals intact, air fresh, and entertainments wholesome.” When Swift returned to the island in 2015 from his home in Virginia, he was particularly concerned with how Tangier was dealing with climate change that threatens to raise sea levels. Already, the island has shrunk from 2,163 acres, as documented in 1850, to 789. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predicted that about a third of remaining acreage would vanish within the next 50 years without major intervention. Residents, however, ascribe topographical changes “solely to wind-driven waves, not climate change,” refusing to believe that accelerating winds were “a symptom of a global phenomenon.” Still, they feared for their future as crab fishermen. With hundreds of millions of crabs swimming by the island each year, Tangier supplies restaurants all along the east coast; New York, for example, pays handsomely for soft-shell crabs. Swift’s profiles of individuals are sharply drawn and empathetic, and he captures their frustration with government bureaucracy as they hope for federal financing of a sea wall. It will take a miracle, writes the author, for the Army Corps of Engineers and Congress to act “before a storm muscles up the bay and renders the whole thing moot.”

A well-rendered narrative about how one specific island’s fate stands as a warning for all coastal regions.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266139-5

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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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

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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