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TEXAS HOLD ’EM

HOW I WAS BORN IN A MANGER, DIED IN THE SADDLE, AND CAME BACK AS A HORNY TOAD

Kinky for sure, and twisted in a sentimental, good-spirited way. (Cartoons by John Callahan)

Well known for his antic mysteries, freethinking, colorful Friedman (The Prisoner of Vandam Street, 2004, etc.) offers a Texan’s view of life and other oddments.

Friedman’s short, good-and-warped journalistic pieces are intended as survival tools, a way of holding on to the good hand and playing a poor one well. In the belief that “humor always sails dangerously close to the truth,” he takes broad comic swipes at all things Texan. These include people who go to their pet’s vet for their own illnesses, pickup-truck decorations such as “a window sticker of a cowboy kneeling at the foot of a cross, head bowed, hat in hand,” a state version of the Ten Commandments, including “Honor thy styling gel,” and those who proudly proclaim that the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame sports a petrified buffalo hairball. Friedman is equally broad in his friendships; few others can count both George W. Bush and Molly Ivins as chums. Declaring his candidacy for governor of Texas, Friedman acknowledges that he has less political experience than his opponents, but reassures voters, “Trust me, I’m a Jew. I’ll hire good people.” Though Texas launches many of his visions, the author also happily explores such topics as why Eagle Scouts are a breeding ground for future mass murderers, why seeking out Saddam Hussein’s tailor in London is almost as special as meeting Gandhi’s barber and why friendship transcends politics: “I feel close to the Bush family in the same way that I feel close to the Willie Nelson family and the Charles Manson family.” The one extended piece here is a great profile of Nelson on tour. Friedman knows and likes the singer enough to repeatedly poke him in the eye, describing Nelson’s trademark headgear, for instance, as “a bandana that has been carbon-dated and found to be slightly older than the shroud of Turin.”

Kinky for sure, and twisted in a sentimental, good-spirited way. (Cartoons by John Callahan)

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-312-33154-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 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.

Awards & Accolades

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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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