Book Review: Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
“There are so many of these murder cases. There are hundreds and hundreds.”
A comprehensive–nay exhaustive–study of the uncounted murders of Osage people a hundred years ago. Grann gets lost in the details, as apparently did many others trying to untangle the skein of murder, extortion, and theft against the newly-rich, but undefended Osage. The very legislation purporting to protect them in fact allowed their “guardians” to rob, cheat and kill them with apparent impunity.
“Over the tribe’s vehement objections, many Osage, including Lizzie and Anna, were deemed ‘incompetent,’ and were forced to have a local white guardian overseeing and authorizing all of their spending, down to the toothpaste they purchased at the corner store. One Osage who had served in World War I complained, ‘I fought in France for this country, and yet I am not allowed even to sign my own checks.’”
Make no mistake: this is a story that needs telling. As with almost every other native people, the Osage were lied to, betrayed, and left to the white wolves.
“Some day this oil will go and there will be no more fat checks every few months from the Great White Father,” a chief of the Osage said in 1928. “There’ll be no fine motorcars and new clothes. Then I know my people will be happier.”
Too much attention to trivia. Grann chases every rabbit, pausing the narrative repeatedly to give background and biographies of all and sundry. The run-on, rambling title is indicative. Hoover had little to do with the story, other than the obligatory piling on to his publicity seeking and megalomania. Deserves a higher rating, but the organization and writing are so poor. (Wikipedia did a better job.)
“There were countless other killings—killings that were not included in official estimates and that, unlike the cases of Lewis or Mollie Burkhart’s family members, were never investigated or even classified as homicides.”
“The blood cries out from the ground.”
Great review of a mediocre book. Recall only a tiny bit of this history from long ago.
Our authorities lied, in our name, to countless people. And then they built a narrative to obscure their depredations. It’s still happening.
But it sounds as if this is not the book that will change things.