THE GREAT FIRE

ONE AMERICAN'S MISSION TO RESCUE VICTIMS OF THE 20TH CENTURY'S FIRST GENOCIDE

An inspiring illumination of a hero who deserves recognition.

Ureneck (Journalism/Boston Univ.; CabinTwo Brothers, a Dream and Five Acres in Maine, 2011, etc.) brings to light the miracles of a little-known hero.

In 1922, Asa Jennings was a Methodist minister working as a secretary for the YMCA assigned to Smyrna, located in modern-day Turkey. Smyrna, occupied by Greece, was the richest and most multicultural city of the eastern Mediterranean. Jennings and his family arrived shortly after the Turkish Nationalist Army defeated the Greeks at Afyonkarahisar-Eskishehir. The Nationalist’s leader, Mustafa Kemal, continued the policies of the “Young Turks” who had taken over the government. Ureneck’s research is thorough and wide-ranging as he explains the 500 years of conflict between Greece and Turkey, the World War I years of the Armenian genocide, and the new government’s policy of Turkey for the Turks, barring all others. Jennings’ appeals for evacuation to the American senior Naval officer, Adm. Mark Lambert Bristol, were generally ignored. Bristol was a well-known supporter of the Nationalists and harbored little sympathy for the refugees. With the backing of the heroic commander of the USS Edsall, Halsey Powell, and the help of the Greek commander of the Kilkis, they managed to evacuate more than 250,000 people from Smyrna in only seven days. With no Allied ships, they convinced the Greeks to lend merchant ships and then persuaded the Turks to allow them into the harbor under American escort, as long as they didn’t fly the Greek flag. Powell certainly fudged his orders by escorting the ships, and Jennings worked night and day to move the refugees to a safe location. The story, especially that of Jennings, crippled by tuberculosis and typhoid, is remarkable, and Ureneck delivers it with a wonderful style that grabs and holds the reader’s attention.

An inspiring illumination of a hero who deserves recognition.

Pub Date: May 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-225988-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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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

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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