WATERLOO

THE AFTERMATH

O’Keeffe offers no revelations for Waterloo buffs, but his book is a highly readable, richly anecdotal retelling of the...

The story of the physical aftermath of the Battle of Waterloo, where 200,000 men fought intensely for 10 hours on a bloody battlefield of 5 square miles, leaving more than 40,000 bodies piled in heaps and forcing Napoleon’s abdication as emperor of France.

O’Keeffe (A Genius for Failure: The Life of Benjamin Robert Haydon, 2009, etc.) draws nicely on letters, memoirs, and other documents to create this vivid account of the immediate days after the historic clash between French, Anglo-allied, and Prussian forces, from the “landscape of carnage” to the occupation of Paris and Napoleon’s exile to Saint Helena. Published to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Waterloo (June 18, 1815), the book’s grim recounting begins with the congested battlefield, which has been thoroughly documented before: littered with paper (letters, playing cards, prayer books, and much more), the drums of French drummers, and the naked bodies of soldiers stripped completely of their clothing by local peasants and soldiers. Survivors begged to be shot dead. Wheels crushed bodies into “a mass of blood, flesh and clothes.” Predators extracted the teeth of dead soldiers (preferably young), to be sold to London dentists, who offered immaculate “Waterloo teeth” to the fashionable and toothless rich. Tourists (including Walter Scott and Lord Byron) gathered swords, belt buckles, and a host of other mementos. The author describes the eagerly awaited news of Napoleon’s defeat as it arrived by mail coach in England, the many ensuing celebrations there, and the stripping of the Louvre. Thousands sailed out to see Napoleon on the ship where he was kept before his final exile. Some paid his laundress for the chance to wear his shirts.

O’Keeffe offers no revelations for Waterloo buffs, but his book is a highly readable, richly anecdotal retelling of the battle’s devastating results.

Pub Date: May 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4683-1130-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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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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