Title: Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
Author: David Grann
Genre: Non Fiction, Crime
Publication Date: April 18, 2017
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.
David Grann, the author, did a fantastic job writing this book. There is so much information packed into this 350 page book but the story never felt jilted at all. The book flowed so well together even with all the different people, crimes, and the history of everything. The pacing was perfect for me as well. I liked how we first got to see the story unfold from the perspective of the Osage Indians and then it switched to seeing how the story unfolded from the perspective of the FBI. Both of these perspectives were so fascinating to me for different reasons.
My biological grandma is/was a Shoshone Indian but she gave my mom up for adoption when she was born. My mom was raised by a white family and she has no interest in trying to find her birth family. So, although by blood I am part Native American it is a part of me that I don’t know at all culturally so it is not something that I claim. However, I have always wanted to learn more about my background but I also want to respect my mom’s wishes and so I do all of my learning from afar. The Native American culture is so beautiful and it is one of my life goals is to always be learning more. For this reason I was so heartbroken by this book. Although, even without my background this book is heartbreaking. The white man felt that they could do these terrible crimes of poisoning and killing and it didn’t bother them because they considered the Osage animals. It made me so disgusted reading this that people can believe that they are better than anyone because of the color of their skin. Although, it is even more disgusting that more than a hundred years later we are still dealing with the same issue.
I also really liked the FBI aspect of this book. I have mentioned before that I am a true crime junkie so this book really appealed to me. I definitely am on the lookout for a great non fiction book about J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI because the little tastes that I got of it in this book definitely intrigued me. The book mainly focuses on Tom White as he is the main investigator for the FBI. He is such a stand up guy and I really liked learning about his life and how he handled the investigation. It was also interesting to learn about how private investigators got their start and the different techniques that they would use.
This third act of this book deals with the author, Grann, and his research for this book. Which led to him putting together more information that what was done in the original FBI investigation. The whole story is so unbelievably sad and such a dark time in American history. As if what the American government did to Native Americans wasn’t awful enough this happened.
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys true crime or anyone interested in the different histories of America. It is so important that we keep telling and reading these stories so we are always cognizant of our past. History is so so important to our lives and to society. We should always be striving to be better than we were.