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COWBOYS FULL

THE STORY OF POKER

A satisfying, useful overview—given poker’s popularity, this is sure to be a prominent book this holiday season.

The epic story of how poker has grown from disreputable roots to become America’s—and the world’s—game.

Poker journalist McManus follows up his bestselling memoir Positively Fifth Street (2003) with a comprehensively structured history of the game. He argues that the complexities of poker lend a uniquely intricate American metaphor for many aspects of society, from the codes of the antebellum South to the frontiers of Artificial Intelligence. Fittingly, he begins by observing that the leader of the free world prides himself on being “a pretty good poker player.” In fact, President Obama is the latest in a long line of presidents who “have used the card game to relax with friends, extend their network of colleagues, or even deploy its tactics and psychology in their role as commander in chief.” This line of discussion is typical of McManus’s arguments for poker’s metaphorical or talismanic status in society—essentially, that a majority of powerful, driven people have incorporated it into their lives. The author first explains how the game gradually evolved—often covertly—in multiple cultures over hundreds of years. It was first known as poque and “pokuh,” and came into its own on the Mississippi steamboats of the early 19th century, among soldiers in the Civil War and on Western ranches. McManus also highlights some fascinating classic cheating methods, surely for entertainment purposes only—especially since these techniques would require more skill to pull off than honest play. The game’s outlaw status began to fade around the turn of the 20th century (Theodore Roosevelt was one high-profile fan), the author writes, and he alternates discussions of cultural phenomena in which poker plays a part with explorations of how the game became less crooked and more streamlined and difficult. This resulted in the development of the now-famous World Series of Poker. These suspenseful chapters on contemporary poker play—McManus asserts mathematical professionalism has replaced the “sharps” of old—may be difficult for neophytes to follow, but the author provides a helpful glossary.

A satisfying, useful overview—given poker’s popularity, this is sure to be a prominent book this holiday season.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-374-29924-8

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2009

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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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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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