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THE DISCOVERY OF MIDDLE EARTH

MAPPING THE LOST WORLD OF THE CELTS

Flaws aside, Robb has broken significant new ground in this deep, fastidiously researched exploration into the ingenuity of...

When planning a bicycle route through the Alps of central Europe, Robb (The Discovery of France, 2007, etc.) discovered a sophisticated ancient Celtic landscape that called for nothing short of a revision of ancient history.

The author is a refreshing new voice in a canon of outdated, barbaric perceptions of an ingeniously advanced society and endlessly recycled quotes from Tacitus, Caesar or Cicero. “Tribes who used perishable materials where Romans used stone, and who recorded their histories in nothing more durable then brain tissue, are unlikely to be seen as sophisticated precursors of the modern world,” writes the author. However, through use of celestial mathematics, etymology, geometry, mapping and a charming measure of common sense, Robb reveals a clear picture of a culture that has been buried by the Roman conquest. He shatters the misconception that Rome built the first roads in Gaul and Britain, describing the well-maintained long-distance routes used by the Celts to move around their territories. They demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of astronomy and celestial movements, and they made mathematically inspired art. They also created one of the most prestigious universities in the ancient world (12 centuries before the Sorbonne) and laid out their cities, towns and sacred places via a series of meticulously ordered geometric and astronomical lines, imposing an intriguingly spiritual map on a very real terrestrial landscape. The dizzying array of tribal and place names—not frequently enough given modern geographical reference—and the occasionally tedious explanations of the mathematical/geometrical calculations may be necessary, but they are the weakest links in this otherwise gripping text. Some readers will also wonder if the title itself is a play to win readership from Tolkien fans, most of whom would find the book too dry for their tastes.

Flaws aside, Robb has broken significant new ground in this deep, fastidiously researched exploration into the ingenuity of the ancient Celtic people.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-393-08163-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

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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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