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THE CAUSE

THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION AND ITS DISCONTENTS, 1773-1783

It’s hard to imagine a better-told brief history of the key years of the American Revolution.

With his characteristically graceful prose, Ellis offers a short, straightforward history of a critical decade in the nation’s youth.

Unlike most of the author’s previous work—mostly reflective book-length essays on various aspects and leading figures of the Revolutionary era—this work is more in the line of traditional narratives about American history. While both elite leaders and average people populate these pages, no reader will mistake it for a social or cultural history or history-from-the-bottom-up. Nor is it a history of the entire Revolution, which usually starts no later than the 1765 Stamp Act crisis. Instead, Ellis digs in with the Boston Tea Party of 1773 and ends with the Treaty of Paris of 1783. His focus is on the Revolution’s male leaders, its politics, the colonists’ inner civil war, and military campaigns. Little here is new by way of interpretation. The author’s sole general argument—that the colonists’ victory was “foreordained”—won’t go unchallenged. This is, quite simply, a well-known story told by a master storyteller known for perceptive detailing. As is always the case with Ellis, he is brilliant at short takes—events, decisions, individuals. Here, he foregrounds four often overlooked men—diplomat John Jay, thinker and pamphleteer John Dickinson, military leader Nathanael Greene, and financier Robert Morris—without whom the Colonies might not have forged a nation. George Washington duly commands center stage, his character and genius indispensable for American victory. True to his own skills at bringing people alive, Ellis also includes sympathetic miniprofiles of normal, unsung participants in the period’s fraught events: loyalists, women, Native Americans, Joseph Plum Martin (“the Zelig of the American Revolution”), and, perhaps the most captivating, Washington’s personal slave, Billy Lee. The book’s only disappointment is its abrupt close.

It’s hard to imagine a better-told brief history of the key years of the American Revolution.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63149-898-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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