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RACE OF THE CENTURY

THE HEROIC TRUE STORY OF THE 1908 NEW YORK TO PARIS AUTO RACE

Fenster is a superb storyteller, taking the factual information of the race and investing it with wit and brio. A race like...

A natty reconstruction of the famous round-the-world auto race.

When the contraption was only in its 20th year, six cars undertook to drive from New York to Paris the long way, 22,000 miles west from the starting point. Journalist Fenster (Mavericks, Miracles, and Medicine, 2003) has a charging style that suits the race to a tee, right from the blatting eruption of engines in Times Square. First, though, she covers the stakes involved: how the French wanted to maintain the dominance they’d established in the Peking to Paris race a year earlier; how the Germans wanted to display the aura of plenty that glowed on the Old Germany; how the Americans strove to demonstrate the pluck of their new industry. But where Fenster shines is in describing the terrain of the race. Roads were crude affairs in 1908, and service stations, of course, nonexistent. The idea was to drive across the Bering Strait, though circumstances demanded the drivers take boats instead, and what they met in the Far East, from bogs to bandits, was enough to make up for that bit of ease. After thousands of miles, what it boiled down to was a race between the German car and the American, with attendant displays of sportsmanship. Bad roads, when there were roads at all, were the least of the racers’ troubles: they had to contend with hunger when they weren’t being fêted; with wrong turns; insurrection; endless dank forests and the simple, terrifying fear of being plain lost. All this Fenster conveys with immediacy, including the cold, the mud and the essentially suicidal route, where local inhabitants could be more dangerous than the murderous lay of the land.

Fenster is a superb storyteller, taking the factual information of the race and investing it with wit and brio. A race like this, almost otherworldly in its setting, has much potential, and Fenster taps into every mile of it. (Six photos, not seen)

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-609-61096-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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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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