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FALLINGWATER RISING

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, E.J. KAUFMAN, AND AMERICA’S MOST EXTRAORDINARY HOUSE

Digging into personal and architectural history, Toker demonstrates spadework of the highest, most exacting, and refined...

A cerebral, spiritual, and social pilgrimage through Fallingwater and the long shadows cast by the two personalities who brought the great home to fruition.

It rises beside a stream in western Pennsylvania, an architectural icon of cognitive dissonance, the thrusting lines cutting through the unruly rusticity: “Pittsburgh-on-Bear-Run,” Fallingwater. A piece of man-made sublime, architectural historian Toker suggests, it is a counterfoil wedding industry to nature. Yet Toker’s story of Fallingwater is not solely, or even primarily, about the building of the masterpiece (though he goes to great lengths to draw out the legion of influences, starting—and ending—with Frank Lloyd Wright), but about how the house pumped oxygen into Wright’s career after the eclipse of the European stylists and catapulted E.J. Kaufmann past anti-Semitic snobbery: “His fixed strategy was to use architecture to raise his social status” and to use Fallingwater as a commercial showcase to demonstrate “nothing more than simple adherence to the merchant’s creed,” though also emphasizing Kaufmann’s role as patron. Toker softens the edge of the characterizations here with profiles that make Wright and Kaufmann human, “in their own moral universe,” sparking “eccentric and self-indulgent lifestyles.” Fallingwater, too, becomes a living thing through Toker’s intimate wording: a wondrous creature, exquisitely tuned to the site. As for the client: “It would be hard to find a house plan that better chartered the dynamics of a dysfunctional family.” Toker sees Fallingwater as a symbol of hope for all Americans during the black heart of the Depression, escapism at its best, even, thanks to the publicity machine of Time and Life, “a patrician dwelling that passed for the abode of one of the people.” Finally, Toker ably skewers E.J. Kaufmann Jr.’s self-serving bluster regarding his role in the project.

Digging into personal and architectural history, Toker demonstrates spadework of the highest, most exacting, and refined order. (16 pp. color and 150 b&w photographs)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2003

ISBN: 1-4000-4026-4

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2003

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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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