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Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage…

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI (edition 2017)

by David Grann (Author)

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2,3551574,258 (4.07)230
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)
Title:Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
Authors:David Grann (Author)
Info:Vintage (2017), 347 pages
Collections:Your library

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


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English (155)  French (2)  All languages (157)
Showing 1-5 of 155 (next | show all)
too many people, too dry writing style though the way the osage were treated is just awful; skimmed much of it ( )
  Terrie2018 | Feb 21, 2020 |
It's no secret that white settlers to the Americas treated the Indigenous people terribly, from physical violence to forced relocation to unfair "agreements" and treaties (which were subsequently broken when they became inconvenient for whites in power). But the story of the Osage murders proves that it can always get worse. Forced from their native lands in what is now Kansas into Oklahoma, the Osage were suddenly sitting on vast oilfields, and incredibly, they managed to retain mineral rights, making them some of the wealthiest people in the country. But many of them were declared "incompetent" by the government and assigned "guardians," who often cheated and swindled them, and in many cases, murdered them.

Federal investigator Tom White was able to convict William Hale and Ernest Burkhart, who were guilty of plotting and carrying out several murders over the course of years, but murdering Osage to gain possession of their wealth and, most importantly, their headrights (to their share of the mineral wealth of Osage territory) wasn't limited to Hale and his criminal associates. Scores and perhaps hundreds of Osage were killed for their oil money, often by those closest to them - spouses, attorneys, trusted friends. Tom White put away two of the worst offenders, but the murderous phenomenon wasn't limited to Hale and Burkhart.

See also: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, Devil in the White City by Erik Larson


...impatient settlers massacred several of the Osage, mutilating their bodies and scalping them. An Indian Affairs agent said, "The question will suggest itself, which of these people are the savages?" (43)

Murder cases that are not solved quickly are often never solved. Evidence dries up; memories fade. (122)

In 1924, the Indian Rights Association....conducted an investigation into what it described as "an orgy of graft and exploitation." The group documented how rich Indians in Oklahoma were being "shamelessly and openly robbed in a scientific and ruthless manner" and how guardianships were "the plums to be distributed to the faithful friends of the judges as a reward for their support at the polls." (166)

An Osage, speaking to a reporter about the guardians, stated, "Your money draws 'em and you're absolutely helpless. They have all the law and all the machinery on their side. Tell everybody, when you write your story, that they're scalping our souls out here." (167)

"Where wilt thou find a cavern dark enough
To mask thy monstrous visage? Seek none, conspiracy:
Hide it in smiles and affability." (Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, 174)

A prominent member of the Osage tribe put the matter more bluntly: "It is a question in my mind whether this jury is considering a murder case or not. The question for them to decide is whether a white man killing an Osage is murder - or merely cruelty to animals." (233)

"To believe that the Osages survived intact from their ordeal is a delusion of the mind. What has been possible to salvage has been saved and is dearer to our hearts because it survived. What is gone is treasured because it is what we once were. We gather our past and present into the depths of our being and face tomorrow. We are still Osage. We live and we reach old age for our forefathers." (Burns, 265)

"...they ripped out too many pages of our history....There were just too many lies, too many documents destroyed, too little done at the time to document how my grandmother died." (McAuliffe, 311) ( )
1 vote JennyArch | Feb 3, 2020 |
Greed, greed, greed, reservations, oil boom, greed, destruction, stop-at-nothing greed, greed, greed, racism, murder, greed, J Edgar Hoover, FBI, human greed and deception. Devastating. ( )
  DeidreH | Jan 26, 2020 |
Fascinating historical non-fiction about the Osage tribe, who resettled on seemingly barren land after being displaced by the American government and ended up making millions off of oil found on their land. As you can tell from the title, this influx of wealth did not go well for the Osage. This extremely thoroughly researched book follows two principle actors in the story while the final third steps back and provides some of the author's work researching it and the overall, historical perspective. The narrative lags at times and sometimes feels like too much "human interest" is shoved in there, but the basic story and the evidence from the primary sources makes it a worthwhile read.

Personally, the devastation wrought upon the Osage by the greed and indifference of their white neighbours is horrifying. It also shows how both individual malice and systemic racism both were at play in murders of potentially hundreds of Osage people. It wasn't just one evil man, but it wasn't some untouchable overarching force of nature either, it was a lot of people who made the conscious decision that money was worth more than the life of an Osage person. It is worth being reminded that this happened within a generation of when the book was written and its effects are still being felt today. ( )
  collingsruth | Jan 16, 2020 |
A great read, but very tragic and sad. ( )
  redbird_fan | Jan 13, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 155 (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 >

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Grannprimary authorall editionscalculated
Carella, MariaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Patton, WillNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, Jeffrey L.Cartographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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!
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.
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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