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Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

by David Grann

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,0712412,506 (4.08)294
Presents a true account of the early twentieth-century murders of dozens of wealthy Osage and law-enforcement officials, citing the contributions and missteps of a fledgling FBI that eventually uncovered one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history. In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, they rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe. Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. Her relatives were shot and poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more and more members of the tribe began to die under mysterious circumstances. In this last remnant of the Wild West--where oilmen like J.P. Getty made their fortunes and where desperadoes like Al Spencer, the "Phantom Terror," roamed--many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll climbed to more than twenty-four, the FBI took up the case. It was one of the organization's first major homicide investigations and the bureau badly bungled the case. In desperation, the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including one of the only American Indian agents in the bureau. The agents infiltrated the region, struggling to adopt the latest techniques of detection. Together with the Osage they began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history.… (more)
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» See also 294 mentions

English (235)  French (2)  All languages (237)
Showing 1-5 of 235 (next | show all)
Such a great novel. I loved how the story was a history, yet read like a work of fiction. ( )
  battlearmanda | Nov 29, 2022 |
This was the first book I had to keep secret. I couldn't post on Goodreads that I was reading it, I couldn't share my thoughts on Litsy or any other social media, and I couldn't tell my friends about it. Why? Because I received it early from Book of the Month, so I could blog about it on April 1st! How cool is that?

Killers of the Flower Moon is the next book from David Grann who wrote the incredible Lost City of Z. If you have not read that one, I highly recommend it. This one is a different story, but told just as well.

It is the 1920s and the Osage Indians have been living the high life thanks to the discovery of oil running underneath the reservation. Oil tycoons from everywhere come to bid on the oil into the millions (in the 1920s). The Osage nation gets portions of the sales, so the reservation is filthy rich.

The problem is it IS the 1920s, so people think less of the Indians and are resentful that they are making so much money by doing nothing. All of a sudden, richer members of the tribes start dying. Individuals are shot and bullets seem to disappear, people are murdered and the investigations come to nothing, yet these are not isolated incidents. Someone is murdering these tribal members.

The story switches then to the investigation and as the book title suggests, the roots of what will become the FBI. An outside individual starts the investigation into these murders and will uncover all sorts of crime scene manipulation, corruption, and all sorts of other problems. We are talking about estates worth millions of dollars in the 20s.

Obviously, this is a true story, so Grann is dealing with what may be known history (although it was new to me), but he is such a wonderful storyteller that I was drawn right in. I loved it so much that I wound up finishing it in just about a day and a half. I think anyone who picked it for Book of the Month would enjoy it.

My only critique is that the Tom White (the investigator) story starts to take over, the Osage become background to their own story. It becomes his story and how he was going to solve everything. That was minor though.

I really enjoyed this one. It was an interesting story with good twists and turns. I gave this one 4 stars. ( )
  Nerdyrev1 | Nov 23, 2022 |
2022 book #68. 2017. In the early 20th century, oil was discovered on Osage land in OK making them rich. In the 1920's at least 24 Osage were murdered for their oil. Only a handful of cases were solved. The FBI dropped the case after only 2 men were convicted. Book club selection ( )
  capewood | Nov 22, 2022 |
When the United States government created the Osage reservation, it was unaware of the extensive oil reserves underneath the surface. The oil boom brought great wealth to the Osage. It also brought great trouble. The powers that be viewed the Osage as an inferior race, incapable of managing their own wealth, and they appointed guardians to manage the Osage’s oil riches. It wasn’t uncommon for guardians to exploit their ward’s property for their own benefit.

During a period of several years in the 1920s, many Osage died violently during a “Reign of Terror.” No one knew who would be struck down next. Those who knew who was responsible for the murders weren’t talking. The corruption of local and state officials provided an opportunity for J. Edgar Hoover’s fledgling FBI to demonstrate its effectiveness on its way to becoming a national law enforcement agency.

The evidence and testimony uncovered by the FBI is disturbing enough. The added details Grann uncovered nearly a century later are even more disturbing. This is a story that could only be told from this distance in time. Would-be writers of that era would have risked their lives by probing as deeply into the evidence as Grann has done. ( )
  cbl_tn | Nov 16, 2022 |
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann delves into the financial saga of the Osage Indians in Oklahoma in the 1920’s. This is a story that I have somehow missed and did not realize the wealth of the Osage tribe. These Indians faced many reservation moves due to the greed for land by the white settlers. Finally, the Osage tribe settled in Oklahoma, and then black gold was discovered, and the troubles began. Starting in 1921, little by little members of the tribe were found brutally killed. After local authorities found nothing, the FBI entered the story. A new director, J Edgar Hoover, frantically took over the investigation. Hoover instilled many ideals into his organization and earned the trust of the country. Grann writes an interesting and readable novel about this lawless time in America. ( )
  delphimo | Nov 11, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 235 (next | show all)
De maand van de bloemendoder is een fascinerend en tegelijkertijd gruwelijk boek over de moordpartijen, discriminatie en uitbuiting van Osage indianen aan het begin van de 20e eeuw in Oklahoma. Nadat de Osage, zoals zoveel indianen in de Verenigde Staten, waren verjaagd naar een reservaat in Oklahoma, bleek hier olie gevonden te worden. Hierdoor werden de Osage opeens rijk. Echter dit betekende ook uitbuiting, discriminatie en vele moordpartijen. David Grann is jarenlang bezig geweest met onderzoek naar misstanden die plaatsvonden en De maand van de bloemendoder is het zeer boeiende eindresultaat hiervan...lees verder >
 

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Grannprimary authorall editionscalculated
Campbell, DannyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carella, MariaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dedekind, HenningTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fontana, JohnCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gay, CyrilTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, Anne MarieNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Patton, WillNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Strömberg, RagnarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, Jeffrey L.Cartographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
There had been no evil to mar that propitious night, because she had listened; there had been no voice of evil; no screech owl had quaveringly disturbed the stillness. She knew this because she had listened all night.
—John Joseph Mathews, Sundown
A conspiracy is everything that ordinary life is not. It's the inside game, cold, sure, undistracted, forever closed off to us. We are the flawed ones, the innocents, trying to make some rough sense of the daily jostle. Conspirators have a logic and a daring beyond our reach. All conspiracies are the same taut story of men who find coherence in some criminal act.  —Don DeLillo, Libra
We have a few mouth-to-mouth tales; we exhume from old trunks and boxes and drawers letters without salutation or signature, in which men and women who once lived and breathed are now merely initials or nicknames out of some now incomprehensible affection which sound to us like Sanskrit or Chocktaw; we see dimly people, the people in whose living blood and seed we ourselves lay dormant and waiting, in this shadowy attenuation of time possessing now heroic proportions performing their acts of simple passion and simple violence, impervious to time and inexplicable. —William Faulker, Absalom, Absalom!
Dedication
For my mom and dad
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In April, millions of tiny flowers spread over the blackjack hills and vast prairies in the Osage territory of Oklahoma.
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Page 141
Perhaps because he witnessed this—and other executions—or perhaps because he had seen the effect of the ordeal on his father, or perhaps because he feared the system could doom an innocent man, Tom grew to oppose what was then sometimes called “judicial homicide.” And he came to see the law as a struggle to subdue the violent passions not only in others but also in oneself.
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Presents a true account of the early twentieth-century murders of dozens of wealthy Osage and law-enforcement officials, citing the contributions and missteps of a fledgling FBI that eventually uncovered one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history. In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, they rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe. Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. Her relatives were shot and poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more and more members of the tribe began to die under mysterious circumstances. In this last remnant of the Wild West--where oilmen like J.P. Getty made their fortunes and where desperadoes like Al Spencer, the "Phantom Terror," roamed--many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll climbed to more than twenty-four, the FBI took up the case. It was one of the organization's first major homicide investigations and the bureau badly bungled the case. In desperation, the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including one of the only American Indian agents in the bureau. The agents infiltrated the region, struggling to adopt the latest techniques of detection. Together with the Osage they began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history.

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Haiku summary
Les Indiens sont riches,
mais sous la tutelle des Blancs.
Des morts mystérieuses
(Tiercelin)

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