Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
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. Her older sister was shot. Her mother was then slowly poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more Osage began to die under mysterious circumstances.
In this last remnant of the Wild West—where oilmen like J. P. Getty made their fortunes and where desperadoes such as Al Spencer, “the Phantom Terror,” roamed – virtually anyone who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll surpassed more than twenty-four Osage, the newly created F.B.I. took up the case, in what became one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations. But the bureau was then notoriously corrupt and initially bungled the case. Eventually the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to try to unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including one of the only Native American agents in the bureau. They infiltrated the region, struggling to adopt the latest modern techniques of detection. Together with the Osage they began to expose one of the most sinister conspiracies in American history.
A true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history.
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Well dang. I love when I can come away from a book with a new perspective and understanding. Although the FBI was an integral part in this story I was more enamored by the Osage Murders. There are some screwed up, manipulative people in this world and these cases are definitely something I wish was a work of fiction. I work in the energy industry and spend my entire year jumping around between working in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas and this story answered questions I didn't even know I had. It did read a little stiffer than I would have hoped, but it didn't really have time to put in a perspective when it had so much to cover. I compare every similar nonfiction to my first and still favorite, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. In that story I was able to connect to the story unwinding on a deeper level by getting to experience the emotion behind finding out each detail with the reporter.
The betrayal and deceit are the main drive in this book, but each time I started feeling excited and entertained, I remembered that this was a true story and felt disturbed. It was a great read, but I don't know if I'd recommend it to everyone so openly. If you are looking for a book in this specific genre or about this specific subject matter I would, but this is not a book that I feel could reach across audiences who love other genres or that it should be peoples first nonfiction read.
“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.”
“the amount of oil money had surpassed the total value of all the Old West gold rushes combined, and this fortune had drawn every breed of miscreant from across the country.”