My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It's rare that I find a work of non-fiction to be an easy read, but Killers of the Flower Moon flowed well while telling an important story of a great injustice that was new to me. In the early 20th Century, the Osage Indians, who had been pushed onto land in Oklahoma (just as so many Native Americans had been displaced and moved to lands not of their choosing), found that their land sat over large oil deposits.
Much to the chagrin of white people, this made the Osage quite wealthy. Sadly, blatant notions of white supremacy had the government and its citizens doing everything they could to disenfranchise the Osage, including routinely having perfectly competent adults declared incompetent, so white "guardians" could be appointed; those guardians then free to steal Osage money.
But for some, that wasn't enough. The Osage were being murdered at a staggering pace by people who had set up underhanded arrangements, through marriage, insurance policies and other means to steer Osage wealth into white hands. The indifference to the murders that underpinned these schemes was shockingly blatant, but nothing really was being done until the precursor of the FBI got involved.
With glimpses of the sociopathic madness that we'd eventually learn drove the actions of J. Edgar Hoover, he pulled the strings of an investigation that eventually curtailed the ongoing murders. The real heroes are no-nonsense lawmen who worked in the Osage Nation on behalf of the Bureau of Investigation (the FBI's name at the time). That didn't end all of the killings, as some have clearly gone unsolved and went well beyond the more commonly known reign of terror, but the federal involvement at least seemed to stop the worst of it.
Killers of the Flower Moon is a quick read, likely because of the writing skill of David Grann, its author and a veteran of The New Yorker, and it's an important piece of American history. I highly recommend this book!
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