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YOU HAVE TO BE PREPARED TO DIE BEFORE YOU CAN BEGIN TO LIVE

TEN WEEKS IN BIRMINGHAM THAT CHANGED AMERICA

An eloquent contribution to the literature of civil rights and the ceaseless struggle to attain them.

Thoroughgoing study of the civil rights movement as it played out on a critical Alabama battlefield.

Though founded after the Civil War, in 1871, Birmingham was a center of neo-Confederate revanchism. “These people are vicious,” said one police officer at the time, referring to those “who could be the Klan.” As historian Kix notes, the city was poor, dangerous, polluted, and marked by one of the lowest literacy rates in the nation. Its infamous sheriff, Bull Connor, “was never quite the disease of Birmingham but a symptom,” a high school dropout who shrewdly realized, after working dead-end jobs, that “a hatred of Blacks and drawn-out populism toward whites could propel a political rise.” Pit the violent, autocratic Connor against nonviolent Martin Luther King Jr., and the outcome seems almost foreordained—except that King’s nonviolence and the savagery of Connor’s policing, evidenced most plainly by an infamous photograph showing a Black teenager being mauled by a police dog, led to nationwide sympathy for the civil rights marchers. They also finally got John and Robert Kennedy, hitherto indifferent to the Black struggle for equality, off the fence to bring about the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the beginning step in dismantling desegregation. All that didn’t stop Connor, whose deputies arrested 973 children in a single demonstration, but again, “the piercing screams of the children” created nothing but sympathy. Kix’s vivid and often maddening account of police brutality, ignorant racism, and the power of misguided ideas makes for sobering reading. Of course, the struggle for civil rights continues, but Birmingham wrought meaningful results: the ability of the author, for example, to marry a Black woman, expanded voter rights, and more, including King’s world-changing “Letter From Birmingham Jail.” Even so, writes the author, “America has always been home to both hope and hate,” and the latter always persists.

An eloquent contribution to the literature of civil rights and the ceaseless struggle to attain them.

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9781250807694

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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


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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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HIP-HOP IS HISTORY

Questlove’s instincts as a superfan and artist take this history beyond the hype to something very special.

A memorable, masterful history of the first 50 years of an indelible American art form.

While historians often cast themselves as omniscient in their works, delivering facts and stories as important without acknowledging the impact of their own experiences on the narrative process, Questlove—drummer, DJ, music historian, and author of Mo’ Meta Blues, Creative Quest, and Music Is History—is forthcoming about the fact that he experienced music differently as he grew older. “I wasn’t sitting down for five hours listening to them over and over and over again, trying to unpack every nuance from every corner,” he writes, recalling his feelings decades into his relationship with the genre. “But I was—I am—a DJ, which meant that I had a professional interest in excavating the songs that worked.” The author’s observations spanning the entirety of hip-hop’s history are consistently illuminating—e.g., connecting its shift in five-year increments to the dominant drug of the period, from crack to sizzurp to opioids. However, it’s his personal connection to certain eras that make his latest book stand out. Questlove considers the late 1980s and early ’90s as the “golden age of hip-hop, when innovative MCs and innovative DJs seemed to spring up every few months, and classic albums regularly sprouted on the vine.” That era—filled with masterpieces from Public Enemy, De La Soul, and N.W.A.—is universally revered, but Questlove also recognizes that it coincides with the years between high school and when he officially became an artist—a time when he was immersed in finding inspiration and understanding the construction of hip-hop. While the author’s knowledge of hip-hop is as deep as any musicologist, it’s his passion for certain artists and songs that sets him apart.

Questlove’s instincts as a superfan and artist take this history beyond the hype to something very special.

Pub Date: June 11, 2024

ISBN: 9780374614072

Page Count: 352

Publisher: AUWA/MCD

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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