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WAR

An often harrowing, though mostly conventional, account of the physical and psychological toll of modern warfare on the...

The latest flexing of journalistic muscle from Vanity Fair contributor Junger (A Death in Belmont, 2006, etc.).

The author dives into the most perilous form of immersion journalism, attempting to create an unflinching account of frontline combat. The prototype of this approach is Michael Herr’s peerless Dispatches (1977), a thoroughly unsentimental, grunt-level view of the Vietnam War’s bloodiest years. Yet if Junger’s dispatches from the fighting in Afghanistan solidify anything, it’s that war American-style hasn’t evolved much in the decades since Herr’s book. It seems that neither advanced tactics nor postmillennial weapons technology have negated the all-too-human imperfections of face-to-face ground combat. From June 2007 to June 2008, Junger was embedded—“entirely dependent on the U.S. military for food, shelter, security, and transportation”—with the 173rd Airborne, a seasoned outfit assigned to secure the notoriously untamable Korengal Valley in Afghanistan—murderous terrain that the Soviets had found impassable 30 years before. The author singled out Sgt. Brendan O’Byrne as his primary focal point for the book. O’Byrne’s no-nonsense attitude and bleak upbringing—he was shot by his own father in civilian life—seemed most representative of the squad as a whole. As in The Perfect Storm (1997), Junger blends popular science, psychology and history with a breathlessly paced narrative. What’s absent here is not only a significant political angle but also any big-picture questioning of what exactly these soldiers are fighting and dying for. Junger portrays the infantryman’s life as one dominated solely by the most primitive group loyalty. It’s this love for one’s brothers-in-arms, the author concludes, that allows the soldiers to stir up the courage and selflessness necessary to function at optimum levels under fire.

An often harrowing, though mostly conventional, account of the physical and psychological toll of modern warfare on the average soldier.

Pub Date: May 11, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-446-55624-8

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2010

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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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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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