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KILLING CUSTER

In his first nonfiction work, noted Native American novelist Welch (The Indian Lawyer, 1990, etc.) stretches the boundaries of history. With the research assistance of Stekler, Welch offers a sweeping history of the American West based on work the pair did for their 1992 PBS documentary, The Last Stand. Though centered on the Battle of the Little Big Horn, in which warriors led by Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull defeated Custer's 7th Cavalry, the volume actually chronicles white/Indian contact and conflict from the voyage of Lewis and Clark in 1804 to the present—from the viewpoint of the Indians. Welch begins by describing the 1869 massacre of a band of his own Blackfeet people and his efforts to locate the forgotten site of the carnage. He then moves on to the story of Custer, a Civil War hero who was demoted following the war and sent to fight Indians on the Western frontier. His conduct at the Washita Massacre, during which he and his men wiped out Black Kettle's peaceful Cheyenne, called his abilities into question and demonstrated the character and leadership flaws that would help bring about his death eight years later. Brash, cavalier, and supremely confident, Custer embodied America's larger self-image. His death, in the worst military disaster of the Indian Wars, thus assumed mythic proportions, aided by a relentless publicity campaign by his widow. Welch traces the fates of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull following the famous battle and uses accounts of such other engagements as Sand Creek and the Fetterman Massacre to help put Little Big Horn in historical perspective. A late chapter personalizes the text, as Welch tells the story of his mother and his early desire to become a writer. An excellent Native version of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: a sad tale that, despite momentary triumphs like Little Big Horn, could not but end tragically for the Indians. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 1994

ISBN: 0-393-03657-X

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1994

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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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