A FAMILY SKETCH AND OTHER PRIVATE WRITINGS

Of interest to Twain scholars and die-hard fans but not to a general audience.

A collection of writings by Twain, his wife and his eldest daughter that depict the day-to-day life of one of America’s most beloved writers and his family.

The six essays that comprise this volume form a unique biography of the Clemens clan during the time of its greatest thriving. The most complete piece, “A Family Sketch,” begins the book. Twain wrote it after the death of his eldest daughter, Susy, in 1896 but never published it. The author introduces readers to his three daughters and several family servants, including a resourceful black butler named George and an Irish wet nurse who “whooped like a Pawnee…swore like a demon…and drank great quantities of strong liquors.” The essay that follows, “A True Story,” was published in fictionalized form in the Atlantic Monthly in 1874. Like “Sketch,” it focuses on portraiture—in this case, of a long-suffering but ever cheerful black servant named Aunt Rachel. The two following pieces are more anecdotal in nature and offer a series of informal observations on the often silly and outrageous but sometimes remarkably wise words and actions of Twain's daughters. His wife, Livy, adds her voice to the mix in the fifth essay. Comprised of a series of journal entries she kept while the family summered at their Elmira, New York, home in 1884, the piece records the quotidian events of her family. Rounding out the collection is the essay, “Mark Twain” by Susy Clemens. Incomplete and deliberately unedited for spelling errors, Susy speaks with disarming honesty about her famous father and his flaws, which included a “peculiar gait” and teeth that were not “extraordinary.” These essays are refreshing for their at times draftlike quality. At the same time, that they are so “private and unpolished” limits their appeal.

Of interest to Twain scholars and die-hard fans but not to a general audience.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-520-28073-1

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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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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  • 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

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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