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

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  180,959 ratings  ·  19,487 reviews

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, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.

Then, one by one, they began to be killed off. One Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, watched as her family was murdered. H

...more
ebook, 359 pages
Published April 18th 2017 by Doubleday
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Warren It's a well documented narrative (a history) of several issues. The Osage being forced to live in a region that later was discovered to be rich in oil…moreIt's a well documented narrative (a history) of several issues. The Osage being forced to live in a region that later was discovered to be rich in oil. How the U.S. government and local government agencies and individuals took advantage by manipulating the "laws", creating polices and murders to control and steal the oil money. The corrupted and or incompetent investigations and how an honest law enforcement investigation was launched by a newly formed and problematic FBI. (less)
Marji Morris If you don't want to buy the hardcover book, go to your library and borrow it there. You'll want to see the photos, map, etc., I think. I don't know i…moreIf you don't want to buy the hardcover book, go to your library and borrow it there. You'll want to see the photos, map, etc., I think. I don't know if you will want to reread the book or not, but you'll certainly think about it for a long time after reading.(less)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
”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.”

The Osage Indians lived in Kansas until the 18
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Elyse Walters
Reading about injustice -historical tragedies--such greed - such ugliness---does something to us. It's hard to explain the depths of what transforms.
We feel the anger... the incredible unfairness. We feel different- changed in ways - after reading a book like this. It's the type of book that makes me want to 'do something'.

White people cheated Indians out of their land! That we 'knew'.... but there is much in this small book many people are not aware of. Author David Grann kept peeling off the
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Trish
That we as a nation, less than one hundred years after the Osage Indian killings, have no collective memory of these events seems an intentional erasure. The truth of the killings would traumatize our school children and make every one of us search our souls, of that there is no doubt. David Grann shows us that the systematic killings of dozens of oil-wealthy Osage Indians were not simply the rogue deeds of a psychopath or two in a small town in Oklahoma.

The tentacles of guilt and the politics
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Matthew
3 to 3.5 stars

Interesting and eye opening. A scary true story of greed and racism in the development of the American West. This is one of those hard to read and accept truths of American history. If you enjoy history and/or true crime I think this is worth giving a go.

My main criticism is that while the story is interesting, I am not quite sure it is book worthy. It seems like this whole story could have been told in 30 to 50 pages or in a Wikipedia article. It feels a bit drawn out when expande
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Julie
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann is a 2017 Doubleday publication.

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 a criminal act- Don Delillo

This is a stunning historical true crime 'novel'
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Diane S ☔
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know why or even how, after all I have read, I can still be surprised at man's cunning and greed. I knew nothing about the Osage Indians, certainly nothing about headrights that provided them with a great deal of money.It is the money and the way the law was provisioned that made them a target for the unscrupulous and there were plenty of those.

This is the story of the investigation into murders that until Hoover involved himself and his men, we're virtually shoved under the rug and goi
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
This is a chilling story — hard to believe it's actually true, hard to believe I've never heard of this before. And mostly, hard to believe so many people could be so cruel and callous. David Grann, a journalist, has done an excellent job investigating and chronicling the terrible story of the Osage American Indian murders in the 1920s.

In about 1904, the Osage tribe had negotiated a contract with the U.S. government; significantly, their lawyer was able to slip in a clause that all oil, gas and
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MarilynW
This book is haunting. It covers the deaths of at least 24, but in reality many more, members of the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma, the richest people per capita in the world, at that time. In the first part of the book we get to meet some of the people who were murdered. In the second part of the book we learn about Tom White and his men, assigned by J. Edgar Hoover to find out why the Osage were dying (by bullet, poison, explosion, and more) and who was behind the deaths. In the third part o ...more
Liz
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
A good nonfiction book will read as fast as a good piece of fiction, all the while imparting new knowledge to the reader. Destiny of the Republic, by Candice Millard, is a prime example. Now comes Killers of the Flower Moon. Enthralling, it tells not only of the killing spree against the Osage, but the rise of the oil industry, the development of private detectives and the Bureau of Investigation ( the precursor to the FBI) and the political corruption of the day.

It's a sad look back on the pre
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Colin
A fairly horrifying true crime story of the murder of multiple Osage Indians in the 1920s. Basically an extra-long New Yorker magazine piece - well-written, interesting history, a quick read; the last section drops the voice of god narration and provides some perspective on the practice of investigation reporting and digging through the historical archives in cases like these. (The author also discusses some of this in a Slate podcast interview, which is how I came across the book.) Some insight ...more
Debbie
Why I chose to read/listen to this book:
1. as a fan of the true crime genre, I was intrigued by the subject matter of this particular book; and,
2. my audiobook hold became available!

Positives:
1. this book is extremely well-researched! It includes the history of the Osage people, the countless individuals from all walks of life whose systemic racism towards the Osage and their fortunes led to massive exploitation, corruption and even several murders; and the various lawmen (especially from the ne
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Paula K (on hiatus)
This book was nominated for a lot of awards, but for me it didn’t live up to it’s praise. The cold-blooded murders of the Osage American Indians was a tragic part of American history. Full of greed and racism. The book, however, was too long and repetitive. The greed behind the murders and the disregard for Osage lives was not enough for a full book. There wasn’t much written about the birth of the FBI either. I would have liked to have seen more.

I listened to the audiobook and wasn’t impressed
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Linda
"We Indians cannot get our rights in these courts and I have no chance at all of saving this land for my children." (Widow of Joe Bates, Osage Nation, 1921)

No horror novella could possibly mirror the horrendous crimes that were visited upon the Osage Indian Nation in the 1920's. The catastrophic bungling of crime evidence, the leaks and sabotage, and the willful insidious behavior by unscrupulous individuals is mind-boggling. The devil and his cohorts wore well-pressed suits and walked among the
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Montzalee Wittmann
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann was a difficult book to read because of all the injustice to the Osage people and victims especially. What a horrible stain on our history. I wish it was a compulsory book for high school kids to read and discuss today. Would it make a difference? I don't know but there is so much white-washing in the history books as it is. This was a book for our reading group and I am so glad it was picked or I probably woul ...more
jv poore
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-it, non-fiction
If ever a story needed to be told, it is this one.

Although I was aware of the general horrific treatment of the indigenous people by the white man, I am shocked and shattered to learn of the special hell the Osage people were subjected to.

Because this history was so well-hidden, thorough and proper research was required. Mr. Grann was quite clearly the perfect person, as he uncovered and articulated multiple conspiracies. Although his affection and admiration of the Osage is evident, he miracu
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PattyMacDotComma
5★
“He was six feet four and had the sinewy limbs and the eerie composure of a gunslinger. Even when dressed in a stiff suit, like a door-to-door salesman, he seemed to have sprung from a mythic age.”


John Wayne? No, but if this had been written right after it happened and Hollywood had made a movie of it, John Wayne would have played Tom White, the special agent in charge of the Bureau of Investigation’s field office in Houston.

He was described as “an impressive sight in his large, suede Stetson
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Diane
Apr 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the best nonfiction book I've read this year. I've enjoyed David Grann's earlier work, but this latest one is just fantastic.

Killers of the Flower Moon tells a story I hadn't heard before: The "Reign of Terror" in the 1920s, when white folk were murdering dozens of Osage Indians in a despicable attempt to steal their money and rights to Oklahoma oil reserves. This case occurred during the beginnings of the FBI, and J. Edgar Hoover used it as marketing tool for the agency.

This book is ric
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Beata
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a powefrul book on murders committed on Osage people during the second decade of the 20th century. The author is an investigative journalist and does a tremendous job bringing this tragic story to the general public. I was astounded and could not put this book down...
PorshaJo
Lies, greed, murder, cover-ups....what a frightful Halloween read. Except this one is a true story, which makes it even more frightening. This is the true story of the Osage Indians. How they were taken advantage of and belittled by everyone. In the early 19th century, they were forced from their lands and eventually ended up taking up residence on Indian territory, which is now known as Oklahoma. Then, in the early 20th century, there was found to be oil on those lands. They had a headright on ...more
Matt
“History is a merciless judge. It lays bare our tragic blunders and foolish missteps and exposes our most intimate secrets, wielding the power of hindsight like an arrogant detective who seems to know the end of the mystery from the outset.”
- David Grann, Killers of the Flower Moon


David Grann’s Killers of the Flower Moon is an irresistible combination: part history, part true crime, and part journalistic memoir, it sheds a bright light on a dark corner of our nation’s history, one that has been
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Rick Riordan
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating story of a time I knew little about — the 1920s in Osage territory, Oklahoma, when the Osage became suddenly and tremendously wealthy thanks to the oil rights they retained on tribal property. During this time, Osage Indians started being murdered in mysterious ways. It soon became apparent the deaths were linked, but was it a serial killer? Multiple killers? As one can imagine, justice for Native Americans was not a high priority for white authorities, locally, statewide or nation ...more
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recent-favorites
A good book friend of mine says that the best nonfiction reads like fiction, and Killers of the Flower Moon is that. I soak up any books seeped in culture. What I learned about Osage culture was a corollary to the compelling, deeply disturbing, Reign of Terror that happened to the Osage during the early 1900s. I saw this book covered on The View earlier this week, which pleased me because this is one of those important books you wish everyone would read. Compassion would run a little deeper, and ...more
Sujoya (semi-hiatus till the end of the year)
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann is a gripping true crime narrative of the horrendous crimes committed against the Osage American Indian people that took place in the 1920s and 30s.

The Native American Osage are forced to leave their land in Kansas and relocate to Oklahoma where they unexpectedly strike a fortune . With 'headrights' to an oil rich prosperous land that attracts white prospectors and businessmen who lease the properties owned by
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Perry
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Malfeasance toward Osage Inherent in the System Intended to Protect Them
[revised/improved May 15, 2017]

In the 1870s, the United States government drove the Osage nation in herds onto a small reservation in Oklahoma, situated on a relatively small tract which was chosen because its rocky terrain was particularly unsuited to agriculture and thus undesirable to sooners arriving from the East to stake land claims.

Forty years later, after the discovery of vast reserves of oil below this barren land,
...more
William2
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, 21-ce, nonfiction, us
The depiction of human venality here will set your hair on fire. The Osage Indians, whose reservation happened to be on a major oil reserve, were in the 1920s set upon by an army of white grifters who murdered them for their wealth. And the entire white institutional infrastructure in and around Osage County, Oklahoma—lawyers, bankers, judges, retailers, housewives et al.—were complicit in the killing. Let there be no doubt: This was one of the myriad forms of genocide visited by the white man o ...more
Beverly
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There is nothing I can add to the already wonderful reviews of this heinous story, except that I am grateful that reporters are still out there telling stories that cry out to be told. I also read The Lost City of Z, but this book is much better.
JanB
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook

The blurb: “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, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe….Then, one by one, they began to be killed off. The newly created F.B.I. took up the case, in what became one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations.”

This book surpasses any fictional murder mystery – the fact th
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, David Grann

In the 1920's, 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
...more
Michael Ferro
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Grann's reportage is both engrossing due to its thoroughly researched nature, and because of his adept skill as a well-rounded storyteller. KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON was a book that I had heard plenty about, obviously, and when I picked it up and read the synopsis, I suppose I was no different from many others who thought: "Murdered Native Americans? Perhaps hundreds of them? For their oil money?? A potential FBI cover-up!? WHEN? HOW?" Of course, I couldn't wait to start reading; I was certainl ...more
Dianne
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2017
This is a remarkable and horrifying piece of American history that screams to be read! I had never heard of the Osage "Reign of Terror." This true story is really a dual story; the mass murder of wealthy Osage Indians in Oklahoma for their oil headrights in the 1920s and 30s and the forming of the FBI.

It's an amazing piece of investigative reporting and very well put together. There are so many characters it can be hard to keep track of who is who, but hang in there. If you think the U.S. is me
...more
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David Grann has written about everything from New York City’s antiquated water tunnels to the hunt for the giant squid to the presidential campaign. His stories have appeared in several anthologies, including What We Saw: The Events of September 11, 2001; The Best American Crime Writing, of both 2004 and 2005; and The Best American Sports Writing, of 2003 and 2006. A 2004 finalist for the Michael ...more

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380 likes · 78 comments
“History is a merciless judge. It lays bare our tragic blunders and foolish missteps and exposes our most intimate secrets, wielding the power of hindsight like an arrogant detective who seems to know the end of the mystery from the outset.” 42 likes
“There was one question that the judge and the prosecutors and the defense never asked the jurors but that was central to the proceedings: Would a jury of twelve white men ever punish another white man for killing an American Indian? One skeptical reporter noted, “The attitude of a pioneer cattleman toward the full-blood Indian…is fairly well recognized.” 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.” 20 likes
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