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AMERICAN ENDURANCE

BUFFALO BILL, THE GREAT COWBOY RACE OF 1893, AND THE VANISHING WILD WEST

Western history buffs will enjoy this entertaining but middling account, burrs under the saddle and all.

The story of an inspired stunt on the part of Buffalo Bill Cody, who organized a horse race from Nebraska to Chicago, the winner claiming his prize in the arena at Cody’s Wild West Show right next door to the world-changing Columbian Exposition of 1893.

The race was decried as an overly attention-greedy stunt, while constabularies scrambled to arrest speeding riders and animal rights activists assembled to protest the perceived mistreatment of the cowboys’ horses. In the end, a rider did materialize, exhausted—and with controversy of another kind swirling around him. Pop historian and journalist Serrano (Last of the Blue and Gray: Old Men, Stolen Glory, and the Mystery that Outlived the Civil War, 2013) turns in a serviceable story; he's up to the business of describing the race itself but a little less certain on the big picture ground. In the hands of a historical storyteller like David McCullough or Nathaniel Philbrick, this flitting episode would have shone, and it’s nowhere near the book that Louis Warren’s Buffalo Bill’s America (2005) is. Even so, the events themselves carry the tale, which has larger dimensions: the race came at a time when historians and journalists were declaring the frontier West to be at its end and the cowboy to be a soon-extinct species and when a pronounced divide was forming between Eastern and Western mores and manners. Serrano earns points among the horsy set for his attention to the mounts and their welfare as well as to their riders, who likewise are little known to history. Yet his set pieces are too often genre clichés: “And as the stars flashed across the eastern Iowa sky, Rattlesnake Pete dreamed that he and General Grant were prancing around not in a small-time traveling circus in a tiny Iowa town, but in the majestic Wild West show in Chicago.”

Western history buffs will enjoy this entertaining but middling account, burrs under the saddle and all.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58834-575-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Smithsonian Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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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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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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