THEIR LAST FULL MEASURE

THE FINAL DAYS OF THE CIVIL WAR

Wheelan has combed entire libraries to make this thoroughly readable, lucid survey. Well-practiced buffs will welcome the...

First-rate study of the often overlooked closing months of the Civil War, which, though the impending end was visible, saw some of the fiercest fighting of the conflict.

So desperate was Confederate resistance, writes former Associated Press editor Wheelan (Bloody Spring: Forty Days that Sealed the Confederacy’s Fate, 2014, etc.), that in the late winter of 1865, it did the unthinkable: it enlisted African-Americans into the army, conferring “the rights of a freedman” on anyone who signed up. Hearing the news, Abraham Lincoln rightly remarked that the South was done, “and we can now see the bottom.” It helped the Union cause that the generals under Ulysses Grant were committed to a program of total war. As Wheelan notes, William Tecumseh Sherman had earlier “held the conventional view that war was between armies and did not involve civilians,” but a spell in Tennessee convinced him otherwise—and even in surrender, many Southerners vowed to continue hating their Northern foes. “Hatred was practically all that remained for many former Confederates,” Wheelan sagely writes, for the South lay in utter ruin. The author capably traces the closing military campaign in Virginia, with Robert E. Lee’s fast-dwindling army encircled by a vastly superior Union force, and he examines the lesser-known theaters that remained, including pockets of resistance in the Deep South and Texas. At the same time, he writes critically, by way of foreshadowing, of the failure of Reconstruction, which would follow the North’s perhaps-too-lenient policies of repatriation of former Confederate leaders, some of whom quickly returned to Congress. Particularly interesting are Wheelan’s occasional forays into speculation: what might have happened had Lee fought a strictly defensive war? Is there any way the South might have prevailed?

Wheelan has combed entire libraries to make this thoroughly readable, lucid survey. Well-practiced buffs will welcome the book, but novices can approach it without much background knowledge, too.

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-306-82360-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: March 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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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

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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