THE HOUSE OF THE PAIN OF OTHERS

CHRONICLE OF A SMALL GENOCIDE

A grim, complex, and admonitory account of a deeply racist episode that many would rather forget—or ignore.

The story of a highly sanguinary, “revealing but buried episode of the Mexican Revolution.”

Mexico-based writer, musician, and teacher Herbert (Tomb Song, 2018, etc.) uses a kind of patchwork-quilt approach to composition in this account of the horrifying episode—in May 1911, “some three hundred Chinese immigrants were murdered, their corpses mutilated, their clothes removed, and their belongings looted. Their bodies were dumped in a mass grave”—that consumed him for a number of years. There are some passages of traditional historiography, but the author also includes several interviews with residents of Torreón, where the slaughter occurred (none could tell him much about the events of 1911), and first-person accounts of his research and other related activities. Some sections about the intricacies of local and international politics—and long block quotations from others’ accounts of the slaughter—will require patience from readers, but the stories of the preludes to the violence, and of the horrors themselves, are simultaneously gripping and depressing. Murder, post-mortem brutality, the blood of children running in the streets, and xenophobia out of control: These and other aspects of the narrative will simultaneously propel readers through the pages and frequently disgust them. As the author points out in a number of places, in this particular region, there is historical amnesia about the event, an unwillingness, even, to want to know what happened. And although there were negotiations between Mexican and Chinese diplomats concerning a financial settlement, no money ever changed hands. The strengths of Herbert’s writing are patent throughout: his vast, comprehensive research; his often elegant phrases and sentences (“the surreptitious legalization of chaos”); his empathy; and his determination to be accurate and fair. The author closes with a “selected chronology” of parallel events in Torreón, Mexico as a whole, Europe/Mexico/USA/China, and China.

A grim, complex, and admonitory account of a deeply racist episode that many would rather forget—or ignore.

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-55597-837-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Graywolf

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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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

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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