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LAST OF THE BLUE AND GRAY

OLD MEN, STOLEN GLORY, AND THE MYSTERY THAT OUTLIVED THE CIVIL WAR

Serrano’s an adequate writer, and the story could have been a decent long-form magazine article. As a book, however, there...

A Civil War story only for those who can’t get enough of the War Between the States.

Serrano (One of Ours: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing, 1998) proposes to tell the stories of two men, one of whom probably never served as a soldier. “One of them was a soldier, but one,” writes the author, “according to the best evidence, was a fake. One of them had been living a great big lie.” The run-up to the centennial in 1961 brought attention to those who still survived. Albert Woolson (1847–1956) was a drummer boy with the 1st Minnesota Heavy Artillery, and Walter Williams foraged for “cattle, fresh crops, and anything else to eat” for John Bell Hood’s Texas Brigade. Woolson was quick with tales of his war experiences, and, as often happens with old men, his stories tended to change. He was active in the Grand Army of the Republic’s reunions, or encampments, which continued intermittently until 1949 (the organization was disbanded upon Woolson’s death in 1956). Williams, on the other hand, never talked much about his short enlistment. He was more cowboy than Confederate and preferred talking about his days herding cattle on the Chisholm Trail. These two men were the last veterans of their respective sides, but there’s not a lot to tell. The author goes into detail about their last years and all that goes with aging: fighting for pensions, deafness, blindness, toothlessness, general deterioration and the process of dying. As the narrative progresses, Serrano sprinkles in stories of the other last few living soldiers of the Civil War, a tactic that merely bulks up the page count.

Serrano’s an adequate writer, and the story could have been a decent long-form magazine article. As a book, however, there is just too much mystery-free filler.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-58834-395-6

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Smithsonian Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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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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