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GENEALOGY OF A MURDER

FOUR GENERATIONS, THREE FAMILIES, ONE FATEFUL NIGHT

An absorbing, thought-provoking inquiry into what it means to change and defy the odds.

The entangled history of the people, incidents, and systems that led to the murder of a police officer in 1960.

On July 7, 1960, a convict out on parole killed David Troy in a holdup gone wrong. Belkin, a former New York Times correspondent and author of Show Me a Hero and Life’s Work, begins her story decades before, tracing the twists and turns of four families to the moment they entwined in that tragic event. From the years before the Great Depression through the following decades of war and economic growth, we come to know not just Troy and his killer, Joseph DeSalvo, but also their ancestors and Dr. Alvin Tarlov, whose support led to DeSalvo’s being granted a second chance. Obsessed with “how any of us become who we are,” Belkin inspects the inflection points that push an individual—and their family tree—into one plot rather than another. As generational stories overlap, the author masterfully builds hand-wringing anticipation of the fateful evening despite having already revealed its shape. Wading into the details of characters’ personal dispositions, successes and failures, and attempts to correct course, she creates a rich backdrop against which to probe the implications of punishment, rehabilitation, and recidivism in America’s system of imprisonment and parole. She deftly manages the particularities of a wide catalog of individuals and their historical and cultural contexts, teasing out pertinent insights into how America treats its prisoners; the tenuous position of parolees and the system surrounding them; and the messy connections among fate, dispositions, and outcomes. If never decidedly answering some of her questions about the case, Belkin creates an impressive work of in-depth narrative journalism that artfully conveys the countless paths a life can follow and exposes the instinctual human desire for alternative endings.

An absorbing, thought-provoking inquiry into what it means to change and defy the odds.

Pub Date: May 30, 2023

ISBN: 9780393285253

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: March 10, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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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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TANQUERAY

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

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A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

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