I was disappointed by this. It got good ratings on Goodreads, and sounded like a historical crime thriller that would be up my alley. But I finished aI was disappointed by this. It got good ratings on Goodreads, and sounded like a historical crime thriller that would be up my alley. But I finished and was left with one thought: what was the point of that? The setting was interesting: I've never read anything set amongst 1800's Scottish tenant farmers. But that's about where the interest runs out. The actual story is straightforward. There's no real thrill. No surprises. (I think something that came up in the trial was perhaps meant as a surprise, but it's obvious long before it's revealed.) There were also some missed opportunities, I thought. All in all, it's a pretty straightforward plot for an uneventful courtroom drama in a novel setting. ...more
This is a fantastic book. David Grann writes great stuff, apparently. The Lost City of Z was wonderfully done, but Grann brings his probing mind and fThis is a fantastic book. David Grann writes great stuff, apparently. The Lost City of Z was wonderfully done, but Grann brings his probing mind and fluid writing to a topic that hits much closer to home, and I'm glad he did it.
Killers of the Flower Moon is about the series of murders that devastated the Osage tribe in the 1920s. The Osage had been relegated by the US to some land in Oklahoma that turned out to be fertile oil grounds. The wealth of the tribe triggered both some truly heinous federal legislation, and a varied series of murders that kicked off a fascinating investigation that would in turn lead to the creation of the FBI. Not only does this book shed light on a fascinating and little-known chapter of our country's history, but Grann further pursues the investigation to shed additional light on what was going on at the time.
Besides being a sort of non-fictional whodunit thriller, Killers of the Flower Moon meaningfully sheds light on some important topics. A central theme, of course, is the outrageous, racist treatment of the Osage Indians, not just by the local whites, but by the federal government. There's an interesting quote at one point in the book speculating about whether killing an Indian would be considered murder or cruelty to animals. The Osage were a tremendously wealthy tribe because of the oil discovered under their land, and learning about how they were treated despite that wealth (or because of it) adds a whole new dimension to the travesty that is our government's treatment of Native Americans.
The book also paints an interesting picture of what was still a sort of Wild West in Oklahoma, despite the fact that it was the 20th century and the Roaring 20's were in full swing. It is a bit surprising to me how recently a wide swath of our country could have still been controlled by such overt corruption and a sort of cowboy code. At the same time, it's interesting to see the development of investigative techniques, and how the investigations of the murders made use of (or didn't) the forensic progress of the day. This was a time when fingerprints and handwriting analysis were starting to see greater use, but weren't the standard practice.
Finally, I think this book teaches us some important things about justice. I don't want to give anything away (even though this is based on real events that happened almost 100 years ago so it should be too late for spoilers), but I think the book suggests how particular narratives about events--narratives that we as a society often desire and seek out--can sometimes hinder both investigations and the ultimate attainment (or not) of justice.
All in all, I think everyone should read this book. It's both compelling and important. And while I already liked Grann's previous book, this new one puts Grann onto the list of authors whose next work will automatically go on the top of the to-read list....more