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SIX FRIGATES

THE EPIC HISTORY OF THE FOUNDING OF THE U.S. NAVY

A welcome contribution to the small library of early American naval history, deserving a place alongside one of the last...

Who knew that we owe the U.S. Navy to long-ago Muslim machinations?

That gross oversimplification points to a historical accident that debut author and historian Toll capably works. At the time of the Revolution, America’s navy amounted to a ragtag collection of privateers and merchantmen; even John Paul Jones’s celebrated raid along the English coast was a freelance operation. After the Revolution, writes Toll, “what little remained of the Continental Navy was taken entirely out of service,” the ships auctioned off and the men dismissed. Whether the new country needed a navy at all was a matter of hot debate among rival political parties, even as America’s merchant fleet became an important presence in the Mediterranean and Caribbean markets. Enter the “Barbary pirates,” privateers of four Arabic states that seized American ships and sailors in a sort of elaborate protection racket—one that England, the world’s foremost naval power, could have easily crushed but instead used as a “check against the growth of economic competition from smaller maritime rivals,” particularly the upstart U.S. In response, though taking time out to come to the brink of war with France, Congress authorized the construction of a federal navy whose six-frigate core numbered “the most powerful ships of their class in any navy in the world.” The U.S. Navy then sailed off to Tripoli to begin the ten-year campaign that would finally break Barbary power. Toll’s narrative closes with an admirably thorough account of the naval dimension of the War of 1812, when James Madison determined that an organized fleet acting in concert was less effective than a single frigate that could “get loose in the Atlantic and prey upon British shipping,” which American ships did to great effect, doing much to win the war.

A welcome contribution to the small library of early American naval history, deserving a place alongside one of the last such books—by a pre-presidential Theodore Roosevelt.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2006

ISBN: 0-393-05847-6

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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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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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


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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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