THE ROGUE REPUBLIC

HOW WOULD-BE PATRIOTS WAGED THE SHORTEST REVOLUTION IN AMERICAN HISTORY

Davis (History/Virginia Tech; The Pirates Laffite: The Treacherous World of the Corsairs of the Gulf, 2005, etc.), presents a significant study of an obscure but highly revealing moment in American history—the declaration of independence by American settlers of the oft-disputed Territory of West Florida in 1804.

So much of the political conflict during the Federalist period involved territorial control. Nowhere was this more overt than the first American “Southwest,” which at the time included what is now Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi and the westernmost parts of Florida. The fluctuation of colonial ownership throughout the region reflected the larger geopolitics of European power struggles, even as the Louisiana Purchase should have settled any remaining disputes. Regardless of who controlled this vast wilderness, it was home to a pragmatic population of settlers, speculators and frontier opportunists, who lived equally comfortably live under Spanish, French or American jurisdiction—until it became uncomfortable. Thus was the case with the brothers Kemper—Nathan, Reuben and Samuel—who became involved in a failed business arrangement with an Ohio politician John Smith. When Smith ended his arrangement with the Kempers, whom he had hired to manage his mercantile endeavors in Spanish West Florida, a Spanish court ordered the surrendering of the Kemper property and their removal from the territory. The Kempers contemptuously defied the order, in part because they believed the finalization of the Louisiana Purchase would render the decision moot. A series of standoffs with militia eventually led to a full-on insurgency of American settlers against the Spanish rule, resulting in a very brief period of nationhood. Not only does Davis cast a bright light into these murky corners of our national past, he does so with a grace and clarity equal to the best historical writing today.

 

Pub Date: April 20, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-15-100925-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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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

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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