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THE ROOTS OF DESIRE

THE MYTH, MEANING, AND POWER OF RED HAIR

Roach approaches her subject from several angles, providing much that’s entertaining. Unfortunately, though, her...

A redhead—and definitely proud to be one—combines a long personal essay on her own experience and feelings about her red hair with research into the mythology and science of the phenomenon.

Roach, co-author of Dead Reckoning: The New Science of Catching Killers (2001) and a commentator on NPR’s All Things Considered, examines the question of why we think of redheads the way we do—as oversexed wild women with the power to lead men astray. In “Sinners,” she researches the meaning of red hair (in both women and men) in the Judeo-Christian tradition, finding, for example, that Adam’s first wife, the promiscuous she-demon Lilith, is usually depicted as a redhead, as is Judas, and that in morality plays of the Middle Ages, Jews frequently appeared as diabolical characters in red wigs. Among the more famous historical redheads, she reports, are the Celtic warrior (and the author’s personal heroine) Boudicca, Henry VIII, and his daughters Mary I and Elizabeth I. While the lore and history are often fascinating, when Roach, in Part Two, turns to what science has learned about red hair, her focus on herself does little to illuminate the account. Eager to find out more about her own genetic inheritance, she travels to England and Scotland to interview various geneticists about red hair. She describes their work briefly—the gene for red hair is now known to be on chromosome 16—but keeps herself and her hair very much in the foreground. In the last section, called “Sex,” the net she casts is wide, hauling in both Mary Magdalene and Miss Kitty of TV’s Gunsmoke. Depicting a woman as a redhead, it seems, is now a convenient shorthand way of saying that she’s someone to be reckoned with.

Roach approaches her subject from several angles, providing much that’s entertaining. Unfortunately, though, her near-obsession with her own identity as a redhead becomes annoying.

Pub Date: July 7, 2005

ISBN: 1-58234-344-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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