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LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

BRITAIN AND THE AMERICAN DREAM

An energetic and meticulously researched history.

A nation rises out of the Enlightenment.

Like Jenny Uglow’s The Lunar Men and Leo Damrosch’s The Club, Moore’s vibrant group biography brings to life the intellectual and political currents, in Britain and Colonial America, that gave rise to the phrase “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” words that “were destined one day to become an evergreen mantra for politicians, and a shorthand for that ideal we call the American Dream.” Moore’s central figures are Philadelphian printer, scientist, and politician Benjamin Franklin, aspiring to “gentlemanly credentials”; Scottish-born printer and publisher William Strahan; the irascible Samuel Johnson; “political agitator” John Wilkes; historian Catharine Macaulay, whose romantic liaisons inspired salacious gossip; and outspoken British émigré Thomas Paine. In tracing their lives and interconnections in the decades leading up to 1776, Moore depicts a British nation increasingly focused on commerce and geopolitics, with a new generation of Britons “beginning to see themselves as masters of their own destiny,” talking of liberty “as a rare and fragile thing.” As the author writes, “liberty meant freedom from tyranny. More distinctly, people thought of it as the right to live with some independence, within a legal system that protected them from the malignant reach of arbitrary power, in a property of their own possession that was safe from intruders.” To Britain’s colonies, liberty meant independence from a king who was quashing free speech, imprisoning opponents, and extorting money from its possessions through taxation. They would not be enslaved by Britain, although they did not include their own slaves in their cry for freedom. “How is it,” Johnson remarked acerbically, “that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?” It was Paine who urged his fellow colonists to send a “manifesto” to Britain outlining their intentions to break with the motherland, in effect providing a prototype for the committee that met to draft that declaration, and it was Jefferson who summarized the yearnings of the age in a simple phrase.

An energetic and meticulously researched history.

Pub Date: June 27, 2023

ISBN: 9780374600594

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 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.

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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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THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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