THE DEFENDER

HOW THE LEGENDARY BLACK NEWSPAPER CHANGED AMERICA

A pertinent, well-fashioned American success saga.

This chronicle of the influential black Chicago newspaper simultaneously tracks the important issues pertaining to African-American history from the turn of the 19th century.

A copy editor and investigative reporter at the Defender from 1991 to 1996, journalist Michaeli tackles an enormous swath of American history in his thorough, painstaking account of the newspaper’s rise to prominence. The story begins with the Georgia-born Robert Abbott, who had been so impressed by the accomplishments of the black professionals he met while visiting Chicago’s World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 with his singing group, the Hampton Quartet, that he stayed in the city to attend law school. He was resolved that the city needed an African-American newspaper that would “ ‘wake them up,’ expose the atrocities of the southern system, and make demands for justice.” With scant resources, depending on subscriptions from the South Side black community, and using his landlady’s dining room as a newsroom, Abbott launched his first issue of the “defender of his race” in May 1905, with a print run of 300. Subsequently, Abbott led the newspaper to prominence over four decades, becoming the mouthpiece for the seminal race issues of the day: exposing the spate of lynchings in the South; advocating for the integration of sports teams; covering race riots; agitating for the huge migration of blacks to find industrial jobs in the North, known as the Great Northern Drive; and supporting the troops in a “Jim Crow army” while carefully avoiding undermining the war effort. As the Defender’s mantle of leadership was assumed by Abbott’s nephew John Sengstacke in 1940, the paper took on the role of galvanizing the black electorate, which would become key in the presidential elections of Harry Truman (1948) and John F. Kennedy (1960), the Chicago mayoral upset by Harold Washington in 1983, and Barack Obama’s astonishing homegrown surge in 2003. Michaeli has obviously put a considerable amount of care into the research and crafting of this important history.

A pertinent, well-fashioned American success saga.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-547-56069-4

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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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


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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

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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