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A WOMAN I KNOW

FEMALE SPIES, DOUBLE IDENTITIES, AND A NEW STORY OF THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION

Assassination buffs and students of spycraft will find this intriguing and endlessly enigmatic.

A cat-and-mouse search for a woman’s identity opens onto a shadowy corner of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Filmmaker Haverstick’s title is ironic, for the woman in question—Jerrie Cobb—is essentially unknowable. An unsung participant in NASA’s Mercury program, she was trained as an astronaut along with a dozen other women volunteers: “She’d been the first to ace the physical exams and had then gone on to tackle flight simulators, endurance tests, and spatial orientation studies, something the others hadn’t done.” When NASA scrubbed the women’s program, deeming men alone to be potential astronaut material, Cobb faded into the woodwork. Not quite: She logged time in Cuba as a supposed confidant of Fidel Castro, turned up in Mexico at the same time as Lee Harvey Oswald, explored the headwaters of the Amazon and advocated for its Indigenous peoples, spoke Spanish fluently—and was a CIA agent. Or was she? Cobb, a skilled pilot, was also on the tarmac at the Dallas airport as Oswald was making his way there, apparently to be transported elsewhere. Complicating the picture is a chain of false identities, pseudonyms, and the possible existence of another woman of the same skill set and physical appearance named June Cobb. “If Jerrie’s life was intertwined with June Cobb’s as a CIA cover,” writes the author, “then Lee Harvey Oswald was a covert player in intelligence, too.” Haverstick takes a few speculative steps into the engineers of the assassination—maybe Castro, maybe the Mafia, maybe renegade intelligence insiders. No definitive answer emerges, of course, but meanwhile, Jerrie Cobb’s fascinating life reveals her to be “a spy, an explorer, a gambler, an astronaut, an illusionist, a narcissist, and a con”—and, to say the least, a puzzle.

Assassination buffs and students of spycraft will find this intriguing and endlessly enigmatic.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2023

ISBN: 9780593727812

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023

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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


  • IndieBound Bestseller


  • 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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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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