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MADOFF

THE FINAL WORD

A well-written, swift-moving story of true crime and punishment.

A penetrating account of the web of lies that won the late con man Bernie Madoff his billions.

The subtitle notwithstanding, words are likely to be forthcoming still about Madoff’s crimes. As Forbes contributing editor Behar notes, a court-appointed administrator is busy recovering the billions of dollars Madoff distributed in his massive Ponzi scheme, which robbed countless people, among them Elie Wiesel, Sandy Koufax, and Steven Spielberg. That so many of Madoff’s victims were Jewish was itself a swindle, for Madoff well knew that “Jews through the centuries…, due to persecutions in country after country, tend to trust fellow Jews more than others simply because they are Jewish.” For all that, Behar, who visited Madoff in prison and exchanged emails and phone calls over several years, has an odd sort of empathy with his subject. He notes that a couple of Mafia dons with actual blood on their hands who did time alongside Madoff earned lighter sentences, in part, it seems, because the judge who sentenced Madoff to 150 years in prison was determined that Madoff never see free daylight again. Empathy or no, Behar enumerates Madoff’s extensive lies, tracing his network of fraud far back in time and implicating a number of accomplices, noting that 13 associates and two external accountants received sentences as well. “It’s tempting and perhaps common sense to dismiss everything Bernie says as bullshit,” writes the author; in this, Madoff and Donald Trump are blood kin (Behar isn’t shy to venture into this territory). Of particular interest, apart from Behar’s deep dive into the mechanics of the scheme, is his complimentary account of how the Securities and Exchange Commission, always strapped for cash and hated by the free-marketeers of the GOP, managed to bring Madoff down.

A well-written, swift-moving story of true crime and punishment.

Pub Date: July 9, 2024

ISBN: 9781476726892

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2024

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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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IN COLD BLOOD

"There's got to be something wrong with somebody who'd do a thing like that." This is Perry Edward Smith, talking about himself. "Deal me out, baby...I'm a normal." This is Richard Eugene Hickock, talking about himself. They're as sick a pair as Leopold and Loeb and together they killed a mother, a father, a pretty 17-year-old and her brother, none of whom they'd seen before, in cold blood. A couple of days before they had bought a 100 foot rope to garrote them—enough for ten people if necessary. This small pogrom took place in Holcomb, Kansas, a lonesome town on a flat, limitless landscape: a depot, a store, a cafe, two filling stations, 270 inhabitants. The natives refer to it as "out there." It occurred in 1959 and Capote has spent five years, almost all of the time which has since elapsed, in following up this crime which made no sense, had no motive, left few clues—just a footprint and a remembered conversation. Capote's alternating dossier Shifts from the victims, the Clutter family, to the boy who had loved Nancy Clutter, and her best friend, to the neighbors, and to the recently paroled perpetrators: Perry, with a stunted child's legs and a changeling's face, and Dick, who had one squinting eye but a "smile that works." They had been cellmates at the Kansas State Penitentiary where another prisoner had told them about the Clutters—he'd hired out once on Mr. Clutter's farm and thought that Mr. Clutter was perhaps rich. And this is the lead which finally broke the case after Perry and Dick had drifted down to Mexico, back to the midwest, been seen in Kansas City, and were finally picked up in Las Vegas. The last, even more terrible chapters, deal with their confessions, the law man who wanted to see them hanged, back to back, the trial begun in 1960, the post-ponements of the execution, and finally the walk to "The Corner" and Perry's soft-spoken words—"It would be meaningless to apologize for what I did. Even inappropriate. But I do. I apologize." It's a magnificent job—this American tragedy—with the incomparable Capote touches throughout. There may never have been a perfect crime, but if there ever has been a perfect reconstruction of one, surely this must be it.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 1965

ISBN: 0375507906

Page Count: 343

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1965

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