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GHOSTY MEN

THE STRANGE BUT TRUE STORY OF THE COLLYER BROTHERS, NEW YORK’S GREATEST HOARDERS

A welcome addition to Bloomsbury’s Urban Historical series, shimmering with dabs of color that bring the entire portrait to...

Poignant, dark-humored account of the brothers who transported 140 tons of street stuff to their Harlem brownstone.

Homer and Langley Collyer lived at 128th Street and Fifth Avenue from 1909 until their deaths in 1947. They became ever more reclusive as the neighborhood went shabby on them, barricading and booby-trapping their home with midnight street pickings, creating a sanctuary of junk. But their unusual behavior, explains Sports Illustrated senior writer Lidz (Unstrung Heroes, 1991), was not lost on human-interest pages of the New York press, in particular Helen Worden, a reporter on the old World-Telegram who turned the odd fellows into a news story. The Collyers became known as the Hermits of Harlem, objects of attention to stone-throwing neighborhood children, to burglars, and ultimately to a rogues’ company of sheriffs, taxmen, and bank goons who wanted them out of the area. In Lidz’s hands, the brothers are unexpectedly sympathetic characters. Langley gave far from mad answers when questioned about his lack of a phone (“there’s no one in particular I want to talk to”), his crummy clothes (“dressed like this, no one ever molests me”), the bulwarks of junk (“the truth is that I barricade the windows to keep thieves out”). The author interlaces the story of his own Uncle Arthur, another substantial packrat, whom the youthful Lidz admired “for his commitment to extreme squalor,” his rejection of order and convention. Maybe touched, maybe crazy, these men defy Freudian analysis; Lidz’s sympathetic evaluation makes more sense: “They tried to build personal utopias behind drawn shades and locked shutters from oddments of their own childhood, mementos of their families, and parapets of newspapers . . . they found themselves trapped by their own fantasies.”

A welcome addition to Bloomsbury’s Urban Historical series, shimmering with dabs of color that bring the entire portrait to life.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2003

ISBN: 1-58234-311-X

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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.

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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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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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