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SICILY

THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF HUMAN HISTORY

A useful introduction to a portion of the world whose crowded history is not easily condensed.

A compact history of the Mediterranean’s largest island, the most frequently conquered spot on earth.

Sicily’s natural resources, agricultural importance and strategic location have made it a prize since antiquity. Benjamin (The World of Benjamin Tudela, 1995) separately chronicles the successive periods of Greek, Roman, Vandal, Goth, Byzantine, Muslim, Norman, Holy Roman, Spanish, Bourbon and Italian occupation. The island’s geography, topography and climate remain fixed, but the art, architecture, cuisine, religion, education and government altered with each conquest. Sicily’s story is the tale of obsidian and sulfur, Zeus and Mohammed, the farmer and the sailor, the slave and the master, migration and emigration, war and more war. A procession of famous people—Archimedes, Empedocles, Cicero, Pompey, Caesar, Richard Lion Heart, Goethe, Coleridge, Nelson, Garibaldi and Patton—all played out at least a portion of their lives at this seemingly inevitable crossroad. No single volume can hope to do more than touch on so many topics or so many actors, making it likely that this one will be more often referred to than read through. Still, the unflagging author does an especially good job of explaining how history never quite goes away in Sicily, how through the accretion of centuries, through so many varied influences, the island’s unique culture has emerged. For the reader who knows Sicily only as an irregular triangle on the map, the home of volcanic Mt. Aetna, or the birthplace of the Mafia, the densely packed information here will seem overwhelming. This may account for the author’s occasionally awkward shifts in tone from the professorial to the jaunty, as if she feared readers would lose heart if she didn’t jolly them along.

A useful introduction to a portion of the world whose crowded history is not easily condensed.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58642-101-8

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Steerforth

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2006

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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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