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APOSTLES OF REVOLUTION

JEFFERSON, PAINE, MONROE, AND THE STRUGGLE AGAINST THE OLD ORDER IN AMERICA AND EUROPE

Another winner of early American history from a renowned practitioner.

A history of three of the Founding Fathers who fought relentlessly “for nothing less than the dignity, equality, and rights of man in America and throughout Europe and England.”

Except for stressing the revolutionary credentials of his subjects—Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and James Monroe—Ferling (Emeritus, History/Univ. of West Georgia; Whirlwind: The American Revolution and the War that Won It, 2015, etc.) delivers solid, conventional biographies, so readers searching for lives of the Founders can kill three birds with this one stone. All three men supported rule of the common man, but only Paine could not be accused of hypocrisy. He hated slavery and the seizure of Indian lands and never had much money, but his later attacks on George Washington and organized religion made him so unpopular that some Americans have never considered him a true Founding Father. Members of the Virginia aristocracy, Jefferson and Monroe opposed slavery in theory but treated their own slaves poorly. Jefferson is well-known for proclaiming that an ideal nation consists of small, independent farmers whose representatives would rule with a light hand. What he meant was that these sturdy yeomen would elect responsible gentry like himself who knew how to govern large groups of citizens. He was most unhappy when the electorate turned to crude, less-educated types more to their taste—e.g., Andrew Jackson. Mostly a follower of Jefferson and president from 1817 to 1825, Monroe is the least known of the three, so readers will find his biography particularly illuminating. Ferling matured during the turbulent 1960s when a school of historians believed that revolutionaries were cool and that traditional elitists like Washington and Adams lacked a je ne sais quoi. Though he has moved beyond this camp, a trace remains in this excellently opinionated history.

Another winner of early American history from a renowned practitioner.

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63286-209-9

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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