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SUNKEN GOLD

A STORY OF WORLD WAR I ESPIONAGE AND THE GREATEST TREASURE SALVAGE IN HISTORY

A well-told tale of naval exploits in which gold is the MacGuffin.

The history of the sinking of a trans-Atlantic liner and the hunt for the 43 tons of gold it was carrying.

Early in 1917, the Laurentic, an elegant passenger ship refitted for wartime service, set sail from Northern Ireland bound for the United States, laden with gold ingots to finance Britain’s effort in World War I. Before the vessel left the Irish coast, it was sunk by a German submarine as part of Germany’s U-boat campaign. Along with details on submarine development, Williams (Seventeen Fathoms Deep: The Saga of the Submarine S-4 Disaster, 2015) writes like a truly sober sailor, with a vocabulary that includes “coaming,” “paravane,” and “splicing the mainbrace.” The author graphically recounts the sinking and provides a biography of Guybon Damant (1881-1963), the naval officer who undertook the salvage for the Admiralty. Though Damant loved the task, it was not a simple assignment. Clad in inflated canvas diving dress, heavy boots, and globular metal helmets and tethered by lifelines and air pipes that tended to tangle, divers were subject to the bends. Damant became an expert in the practice of recompression. The wreck of the Laurentic was compressed accordionlike and shifting in rough water. Tons of plating and bulkheads required exploding and removal. There was also Admiralty red tape, shifting sand, silt, and crumbling wreckage. Winter weather was bad, and diving was restricted to summers. The effort took seven years, but, eventually, Damant’s group was successful. After he retired, he became a commander of the British Empire. Ultimately, the crew recovered 3,186 of the 3,211 ingots that went down with the ship. Others have since searched, unsuccessfully, and there are still a few bars of gold deep down in what is now an Irish historic site.

A well-told tale of naval exploits in which gold is the MacGuffin.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61373-758-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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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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