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THE FIFTIES

AN UNDERGROUND HISTORY

Inspiring activists populate a useful revisionist history.

A history of the courageous men and women who roiled postwar complacency.

In his latest book, former Timemanaging editor Gaines debunks the image of the 1950s as a period of quiet contentment. Although the postwar period was “hostile to change,” American society, Gaines reveals, was prodded by activists who dared to speak out against sexism, racism, classism, and environmental contamination. Drawing on histories, memoirs, reportage, and government documents, the author creates a vigorous group biography of several feisty individuals who risked isolation and censure by advocating for systemic change. His subjects include Harry Hay, a closeted gay man who founded the Mattachine Society, “the first sustained advocacy group for gay rights in American history”; feminist lawyer Pauli Murray, feminist historian Gerda Lerner, and civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, all of whom “saw that race, class, and gender were inseparable, mutually reinforcing sources of discrimination that could only be defeated on the basis of that understanding”; Black veterans such as Isaac Woodard, Medgar Evers, James Forman, and Aaron Henry, who became leaders in a variety of significant civil rights organizations throughout the South; and philosopher and mathematician Norbert Wiener and biologist Rachel Carson, who, from their vastly different perspectives, “converged on the heretical, even subversive idea that the assertion of mastery over the natural world was based on an arrogant fantasy that carried the potential for disaster.” Each individual confronted formidable obstacles: Hay, for example, faced the challenge of arousing support from men who feared exposure and “inspiring solidarity in people who had never wished to be known as a group, around questions most had never asked.” Carson, who wrote Silent Springwhile being treated for advanced cancer, battled a campaign mounted by the chemical industry. Black GIs came home from the war to face violent racist uprisings. Hamer, who worked as a sharecropper in Mississippi until she was 45, was thrown off the cotton plantation when she tried to register to vote.

Inspiring activists populate a useful revisionist history.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4391-0163-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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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


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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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