CAN’T FIND MY WAY HOME

AMERICA IN THE GREAT STONED AGE, 1945-2000

Maybe it was all just (mostly) fun, but Torgoff's father’s question remains unanswered: “What did any of it really mean?”

Music writer Torgoff informally collects scenes from the illicit drug culture during the second half of the 20th century.

As all the singular and emblematic figures in the dope world over the last 50 years come walking through the author’s door, he passes on their words—good, bad, indifferent, paranoid—or tenders a bit of their drug history if they’re dead. Torgoff is not here to pass judgment, but rather to chronicle the rise of illicit drug use. He takes the middle road. Demonizing dope is absurd and pointless, he argues, and it’s equally nutty to claim that drugs are harmless, as a percentage of users will always experience abuse problems. He simply wants to know what Timothy Leary and William Burroughs were after. (The former said he learned “that consciousness and intelligence can be systematically expanded”; the latter noted after his first injection, “Well, now, that’s very interesting”). Allen Ginsberg’s “optical consciousness” interests him too. Torgoff paints a sad picture of Charlie Parker, who emerges as something of an idiot savant with one overwhelming fixation enwrapping one prodigious talent, and an equally sad picture of the Summer of Love: as novelist Tom Robbins said, “All utopias attract thugs, like iron filings to a magnet.” The hope for utopia, Torgoff notes, forms a major part of dope’s attraction, as do the brilliance of drug-fueled synesthesia and the wildness of literary forms created by users. In the 1960s, he recalls, smoking dope led to other kinds of rebellion: “All you had to do was get high to understand in the most visceral sense that the government was lying about pot; once you saw through that hoax, you started questioning what the authorities were saying about everything else.” Or maybe you got lost to bad acid or crack. Anything was possible.

Maybe it was all just (mostly) fun, but Torgoff's father’s question remains unanswered: “What did any of it really mean?”

Pub Date: May 13, 2004

ISBN: 0-7432-3010-8

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2004

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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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