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AMERICAN-MADE

THE ENDURING LEGACY OF THE WPA: WHEN FDR PUT THE NATION BACK TO WORK

Readable and vividly rendered—a near-definitive account of one of the most massive government interventions into domestic...

Breezy but well-considered account of the Works Progress Administration, the New Deal’s signature jobs program.

Taylor (Laser: The Inventor, the Nobel Laureate, and the Thirty-Year Patent War, 2000, etc.) writes popular history, which means that academics may find his fast-paced narrative lacking in complex ideas. He peppers descriptions of major policy clashes with profiles of destitute people whose lives were literally saved by going on the workforce program. The book is filled with plucky, fast-talking characters who by dint of charm and grit pulled themselves up by their bootstraps to participate in the nationwide effort to put the jobless to work. Taylor’s principal hero is Harry Hopkins, the tireless, charismatic FDR aide who steamrolled bureaucratic opposition to get the WPA up and running, then saw it through to the end, at the expense of his health and personal political ambitions, until it was ultimately derailed by the onset of World War II. The author paints a colorful, compelling picture of how miserable life was for most Americans after the stock market crash of 1929; his portrait of government competence and visionary goals contrasts pointedly with the radically restricted ambitions of today’s politicians. He gives airtime to critics who found the WPA anti-business and anti-American, who invented the term “boondoggle” to describe the government’s sometimes wasteful methods for getting people back to work. He also shows those voices drowned out by the concerns of starving citizens and reminds us that the WPA built some of the nation’s most beloved pieces of infrastructure, from San Francisco’s Cow Palace to New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

Readable and vividly rendered—a near-definitive account of one of the most massive government interventions into domestic affairs in American history.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-553-80235-1

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2007

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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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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


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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

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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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