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BLOOD MOON

AN AMERICAN EPIC OF WAR AND SPLENDOR IN THE CHEROKEE NATION

A vigorous, well-written book that distills a complex history to a clash between two men without oversimplifying.

“To the Cherokee, balance was everything”: a broad-ranging history of a political rivalry that upset the Cherokee world for more than a century across the face of North America.

Veteran journalist and author Sedgwick (War of Two: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the Duel that Stunned the Nation, 2015, etc.) dispels any notion that the Native American world was either monolithic or pacific. In the absence of other powers, tribes and alliances of tribes fought for land and influence, and in their presence, they became blunt-force instruments. During the events that led to the War of 1812, for example, Andrew Jackson was successful in co-opting the Cherokee nation to fight the Red Sticks, Creek Indians who had aligned with Tecumseh’s pan-Indian rebellion. Of one leader, Sedgwick writes, “to The Ridge and other enlightened Cherokee, America was their future. Any identification with their fellow Indians was long past.” Given the rank of major, which he would use as part of his name thenceforth, The Ridge advanced the career of a Scottish-sired young man named John Ross, a non–Cherokee speaking member of the nation, who quickly positioned himself as a rival. Both became rich and politically powerful through trade with the Americans, but the Cherokee were poorly repaid for remaining loyal to the young United States: They were effectively given the choice of moving as a nation to Oklahoma or living as Americans in their southeastern homeland. On that question, Ross and Ridge divided again. “Stay or go left no room for compromise,” writes the author. “No words from John Ross or any of the Ridges could ever bridge the gap.” That division persisted: Followers of both parties would contend on issues thereafter, from joining the Confederacy during the Civil War (Gen. Stand Watie, the Confederate cavalry legend, was a follower of Ridge’s) to questions of national sovereignty after the war.

A vigorous, well-written book that distills a complex history to a clash between two men without oversimplifying.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2871-4

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 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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