Goodreads: Killers of the Flower Moon: Oil, Money, Murder and the Birth of the FBI
Genre: Non Fiction, True Crime
(Review posted from 2018)
From the bestselling author of The Lost City of Z, soon to be a major film starring Charlie Hunnam, Sienna Miller and Robert Pattison, comes a true-life murder story which became one of the newly-created FBI’s first major homicide investigations.
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 this was just the beginning, as more and more members of the tribe began to die under mysterious circumstances, and many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered.
As the death toll climbed, the FBI took up the case. It was one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations and the bureau badly bungled it. In desperation, its young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to unravel the mystery. Together with the Osage he and his undercover team began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history.
“Today our hearts are divided between two worlds. We are strong and courageous, learning to walk in these two worlds, hanging on to the threads of our culture and traditions as we live in a predominantly non-Indian society. Our history, our culture, our heart, and our home will always be stretching our legs across the plains, singing songs in the morning light, and placing our feet down with the ever beating heart of the drum. We walk in two worlds.”
I’ve said it countless times before but I’ll say it again: I’m not usually a nonfiction reader. I always have trouble getting hooked into the flow and most of the time I lose interest after 35-50% or it takes me forever (read: months or years) to finish a book. BUT that wasn’t the case with this one.
This book sucked me in from the start – big props to David Grann and his writing! I don’t know what to say about this book though. It’s… appalling and fascinating? It is a chilling and despondent portrayal of a very dark side of humanity. Reading the history of the prejudices carried out against the Indians left me feeling incredulous. I know it’s not an isolated history and it still goes on today, but I guess reading about the full extent of the injustices done and the perpetrators’ attitude of absolute right and entitlement to do so… Really brings back the time age-old question: who really are the savages here?
That said, this book is also a testament to the strength and perseverance of a peoples – to come through that Reign of Terror, although even generations after the time, not unscathed. I can’t even begin to imagine how it would be like to know that justice will never be seen for the family that was lost in such sickening and brutal ways.
Although I’m not in any way connected to America or this American history, it’s still sad to know that this dark period is not something that’s taught to younger generations – “lest we forget”. It’s so important to not forget this history.
Have you read Killers of the Flower Moon or is it on your TBR?