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THE OUTLIER

THE UNFINISHED PRESIDENCY OF JIMMY CARTER

The best study to date of the Carter era and a substantial contribution to the history of the 1970s.

Searching biography of a president whose contributions, the author argues, are undervalued.

Though Jimmy Carter (b. 1924) has been “perceived as a ‘weak’ or hapless executive,” that view, writes Pulitzer winner Bird, is “a simplistic caricature.” Carter’s single term in office was “consequential.” Bracketed between the Nixon/Ford and Reagan/Bush eras, it marked such matters as the beginnings of corporate deregulation and the beginning of the end of the Cold War. Carter is also remembered as a scolding moralist. He earns the rubric “outlier” for being a Washington outsider, a former governor swept into higher office largely because he wasn’t a Republican—but also, by Bird’s sharp account, for taking his own path, often against the counsel of his advisers. For example, he was urged not to hire economist Paul Volcker to lead the fight against inflation, knowing that Volcker “intended to make the economy scream as he faced reelection.” Carter’s failures, Bird suggests, were often not of his doing: A deeply split Democratic legislature made up then of Southern conservatives (who would soon defect to the GOP) and Northern liberals hampered him, and he had the likes of Edward Kennedy dogging him constantly. The author’s sprawling study is sometimes repetitious—e.g., he repeats the observation that Carter made more minority appointments to the federal judiciary than any other president before him. Nonetheless, Bird is a keen biographer of political figures, and he offers a welcome reminder that Carter’s liberal impulses were correct while his missteps were often the result of events he could not fully control, as when the Reagan campaign, in a “treasonous caper,” putatively met with the Iranian regime to delay release of the Tehran hostages and “scuttle Carter’s second-term presidency.” Shelve this alongside Jonathan Alter’s equally incisive biography, His Very Best.

The best study to date of the Carter era and a substantial contribution to the history of the 1970s.

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-451-49523-5

Page Count: 784

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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


  • New York Times Bestseller


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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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HIP-HOP IS HISTORY

Questlove’s instincts as a superfan and artist take this history beyond the hype to something very special.

A memorable, masterful history of the first 50 years of an indelible American art form.

While historians often cast themselves as omniscient in their works, delivering facts and stories as important without acknowledging the impact of their own experiences on the narrative process, Questlove—drummer, DJ, music historian, and author of Mo’ Meta Blues, Creative Quest, and Music Is History—is forthcoming about the fact that he experienced music differently as he grew older. “I wasn’t sitting down for five hours listening to them over and over and over again, trying to unpack every nuance from every corner,” he writes, recalling his feelings decades into his relationship with the genre. “But I was—I am—a DJ, which meant that I had a professional interest in excavating the songs that worked.” The author’s observations spanning the entirety of hip-hop’s history are consistently illuminating—e.g., connecting its shift in five-year increments to the dominant drug of the period, from crack to sizzurp to opioids. However, it’s his personal connection to certain eras that make his latest book stand out. Questlove considers the late 1980s and early ’90s as the “golden age of hip-hop, when innovative MCs and innovative DJs seemed to spring up every few months, and classic albums regularly sprouted on the vine.” That era—filled with masterpieces from Public Enemy, De La Soul, and N.W.A.—is universally revered, but Questlove also recognizes that it coincides with the years between high school and when he officially became an artist—a time when he was immersed in finding inspiration and understanding the construction of hip-hop. While the author’s knowledge of hip-hop is as deep as any musicologist, it’s his passion for certain artists and songs that sets him apart.

Questlove’s instincts as a superfan and artist take this history beyond the hype to something very special.

Pub Date: June 11, 2024

ISBN: 9780374614072

Page Count: 352

Publisher: AUWA/MCD

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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