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SHANE COMES HOME

A fine and moving story, full of heroes.

An affecting portrait of the first American combat fatality in the Iraq war, and of those who suffered his loss.

As Hartford Courant staff writer Buck (Flight of Passage, 1997) reports, Marine Lt. Shane Childers was “one of a handful of grunts picked every year for promotion from the enlisted to commissioned officer ranks,” and for good reason: he excelled at everything he turned his hand to, had grown from redneck to world traveler and would-be French teacher, and was “the kind of soldier whom all the enlisted men and officers boasted about and who was well known throughout the network of Marine bases across the country.” His legend, the reader is left to presume, will only increase in the wake of his death. Shot down only a dozen hours after assuming command of a rifle platoon while attempting to secure an Iraqi oil-pumping station, Childers was an exemplary soldier; of that Buck leaves no doubt. But there are other noteworthy soldiers in Buck’s cast of characters, including the young CACO, or Casualty Assistance Calls Officer, assigned to bring the news of Childers’s death to his family. Buck’s leisurely developed account of the rituals by which Marines attend to their fallen is very well done, though at points not for the squeamish. Well done, too, are the character studies that emerge as Buck relates the effects of Childers’s death on his small community and his many relatives. Childers’s inconsolable Vietnam vet father and his mother wrestle early on with the question of whether to inter him in Arlington National Cemetery, “buried in the company of soldiers he practically knew,” but decide instead to return him to the Wyoming mountain country he loved; in each step of reaching each decision, they emerge as people of great principle. So do Childers’s fellow Marines, and particularly that young captain, who questions the war in Iraq but nonetheless lobbies hard to be sent to fight there, doing the job he was trained to do.

A fine and moving story, full of heroes.

Pub Date: March 15, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-059325-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2005

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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

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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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