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HISTORY AS MYSTERY

paper 0-87286-357-3 A somewhat scattered but well-considered manifesto for a history that serves as a weapon —in the age-old war for our intellectual emancipation.— A quarter of college seniors cannot come within 50 years of pinpointing Columbus’s arrival in America; 40 percent cannot give the dates of the Civil War; most cannot distinguish WWI from WWII, except to guess that one preceded the other. Small wonder, says left-wing historian Parenti (Dirty Truths, 1996, etc.), for most written history is —an ideologically safe commodity— that serves the interests of the ruling class—and that in any event is generally pretty uninteresting fare. At points in this collection of essays, Parenti examines the nature of American history textbooks, which, he believes, ignore or undervalue the contributions of ethnic minorities, women, and labor; considers the influence of Christianity on European culture, a tradition, he argues, that is replete with misogyny, anti-Semitism, and book-burning; and generally offers assessments of the nation’s past that would give Lynne Cheney and William Bennett fits. Opponents of left-wing points of view will immediately dismiss Parenti’s arguments as more liberal breast-beating; proponents of those points of view will likely admire this book, which suffers only from a tendency to repeat attention-getting slogans on matters of racism, sexism, and classism. Historically minded readers on the left and right alike will find Parenti’s account of the 1991 exhumation of President Zachary Taylor—who, some scholars have suspected, was assassinated by poisoning—to be of much interest. Parenti takes issue with the conclusions of that long-after-the-fact inquest, writing that —the chief medical examiner’s investigation pretended to a precision and thoroughness it never attained,— while the media —eagerly cloaked the inquest with an undeserved conclusiveness.— Solid if surely controversial stuff.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1999

ISBN: 0-87286-364-6

Page Count: 222

Publisher: City Lights

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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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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