Projects editor

I read "Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI," by David Grann, published in 2017.

This is a great piece of journalism that publicizes a shocking episode in American history in the 1920s and '30s and uncovers new information. Grann, a journalist and staff writer for The New Yorker, is not a poetic writer, but his straight-ahead prose works well for a story whose details are more lurid and appalling than you could imagine.

The skeleton of the story, without spoilers, is that, in the late 1800s, the Osage tribe, which had dominated huge swaths of the West, had retreated to a barren section of Oklahoma. Then oil was found under their land — a whole lot of oil. The tribe owned the rights to the oil, and for awhile the Osage had one of the greatest concentration of millionaires in the country. But the white power structure did everything possible to prevent the American Indians from controlling their own wealth by manipulating the law and the levers of power, and then things got much worse: Members of the tribe started dying in suspicious or obviously criminal ways.

The eventual involvement of the FBI, then in its infancy and not even called the FBI yet, adds a fascinating edge to the tale.

You read through this book, following the ups and downs of the case, and when you think you're done, you notice you've got about four chapters to go. Those chapters are the most chilling of the book, transforming it from the expected: a tale of crime and investigation, pursuit and resolution, to something far deeper and far worse. The book reveals a conspiracy, but in the end, the nature of that conspiracy proves to be different and more disturbing than you expect. Justice does not prevail.

Will Doolittle is projects editor at The Post-Star. He may be reached at will@poststar.com and followed on his blog, I think not, and on Twitter at

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