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THE SOURCE

HOW RIVERS MADE AMERICA AND AMERICA REMADE ITS RIVERS

Waste, restoration, and efforts to use a scarce resource wisely: Doyle speaks well to issues that are as pressing today as...

A vigorous look at American history through the nation’s waterways.

In at least some measure, writes Doyle (River Science and Policy/Duke Univ.), federalism was born of an effort to regulate the use of waterways that, in the eastern portion of the country, often lay entirely within individual states: the James, for instance, in Virginia, and the Hudson in New York. In the 18th century, private river companies had formed with “modest ambitions: keeping their river cleared of logs, sandbars, and any other blockages.” The newly formed federal government stepped in, placing rivers in the national domain; it’s no accident, writes the author, that the U.S. Military Academy was sited alongside a river, since its graduates were trained to be river engineers above all else. Where states retained power, they sometimes governed for the eventuality of a flood, as with the levee districts along the Mississippi in the South. However, when Ronald Reagan’s administration made moves to revert power to the states, “this meant putting the impetus back on local and state governments to spend their own money on projects,” which was a nonstarter. Doyle links subsequent developments in taxation, environmental policy, energy, and resource management to the management of water, with all its many tangles; as he notes, for example, “fences dividing fields or lines dividing a map; both are intuitive. Dividing water is not so intuitive.” Thus, the fight continues over such things as the allocation of the Colorado River or the ownership of the mouth of the Columbia. Doyle is not the first to look at history through the lens of water; Wallace Stegner and Donald Worster, among others, have written signally important books in the field. This book is a comparatively minor entry alongside them but still worthy of a place in any water-centered library.

Waste, restoration, and efforts to use a scarce resource wisely: Doyle speaks well to issues that are as pressing today as in the first years of the republic.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-393-24235-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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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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