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THE BIG OYSTER

NEW YORK ON THE HALF SHELL

A compelling, highly readable treat, whether you partake of Ostreidae or not.

Kurlansky (Boogaloo on Second Avenue, 2005, etc.) takes a fresh look at the tasty, once plentiful mollusk in this stimulating, often fascinating saga.

In describing the rise and fall of the oyster industry in New York, Kurlansky delivers an insightful history of the city itself, from the day in 1609 when Henry Hudson first sailed into New York Harbor (where he was promptly offered oysters by the resident Lenni Lenape Indians) through the inexorable pollution of New York's once teeming oyster beds, resulting in their closing by 1930. New Yorkers may be surprised to learn just how plentiful oysters were. One biologist claimed that New York Harbor once contained half the world's oysters, and, by 1880, with the help of scientific “cultivation,” New York's waters were producing 700 million oysters a year. Small wonder that oyster stands and oyster saloons were ubiquitous in 19th-century New York. Kurlansky seasons his scholarship with colorful asides on everything from the birth of Delmonico's restaurant to the boisterous oyster-shucking contests that were once a staple of New York life. (In 1885, a shucker named Billy Lowney opened 100 oysters in three minutes, three seconds.) Many vintage oyster recipes are included, with some calling for more than one hundred oysters per recipe. While oysters are clearly the stars here, Kurlansky also offers some intriguing human portraits, from Charles Dickens, who preferred eating his oysters in dingy oyster cellars, to the corpulent Diamond Jim Brady, who was said to begin each meal with a gallon of orange juice and six dozen Lynnhaven oysters. Kurlansky serves up the heady story with trenchant prose and a knack for curious insight. True, after hearing him describe the oyster's innards, you may not be rushing to the nearest oyster bar: “If the oyster is opened carefully, the diner is eating an animal with a working brain, a stomach, intestines, liver and a still-beating heart.”

A compelling, highly readable treat, whether you partake of Ostreidae or not.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-47638-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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  • 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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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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