Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
by David Grann
Nikki’s Rating: 10 out of 10
Summary: Living a life of luxury during the 1920s, the Osage Nation in Oklahoma were the envy of many and this envy took a deadly turn. Members of the Osage tribe began dying under suspicious circumstances and anyone who investigated were murdered as well. With the rising death toll, the newly put together FBI gets involved and exposes a large conspiracy that will haunt the Osage for generations to come.
10 Kingly Things about KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON by David Grann
(May Contain Spoilers)
Killers of the Flower Moon was an absolute eye-opener, I’ve never even heard about the Osage Nation and definitely not about their murders. This novel was a wealth of knowledge about the Osage Indians, the Osage murders, and also the beginnings of the FBI. It is a testament of the atrocities we can do to fellow human beings due to prejudices and believing they are less-than.
2. Osage Indians
David Grann showed the utmost respect when talking about the Osage Tribe and their people throughout Killers of the Flower Moon. Grann gave background and described some practices of the Osage people but he did not attempt to be an expert and he did not make stereotypes. He did not portray them as ignorant savages who need pity nor did he portray them as nature protecting shaman who should be revered.
3. White Power
Ultimately, the Killers of the Flower Moon is a story of how whites took advantage and even killed many members of the Osage Tribe during the 1920s for their money. And they got away with it because of prejudices and discrimination against Native Americans. Many of the whites in the county including judges, policemen, and doctors were complacent, no one cared about the rich Indians and there was an overall attitude that these crimes were okay because they were benefiting white people.
4. Good Whites
On the flip side, David Grann makes sure to show that not all whites in Osage County were involved with the conspiracy. There were some white men who honestly tried to solve the Osage murders and found themselves killed as well. And then there was Comstock, an affluent white citizen of Osage County who openly and willing assisted investigators.
5. New Information
One of the most important things that came out with David Grann’s investigation into the Osage Murders was that there were more killings than just what the FBI investigated and pressed charges for. Through Grann’s research he found that hundreds of Osage Indians had died at a much higher rate than normal and that all of them had money being overseen by whites. Grann uncovered a conspiracy that went farther than what was once believed and the victims will never have justice.
While incredibly heavy with dates, facts, and overall information, Killers of the Flower Moon does not read like a history textbook. Instead Grann does an exceptional job of uncovering the facts, people, and places in a story-telling way and he keeps his readers engaged with great pacing, beautiful descriptives, and a layer by layer reveal of the conspiracy and its key players.
Another exceptional writing skill that Grann displays is that of contexts. Grann makes sure to explain customs or norms that were different during that time period. He also includes background on numerous characters allowing readers to better understand their motives, values, and choices. And Grann also includes reminders of who people are in relation to events. This was incredibly helpful and allowed for easy understanding without having to flip back in the book or to look something up.
Even though the events of the Osage murders occurred during the 1920s, Grann visited Osage County and interviewed relatives of those who were directly involved. This is so powerful because of generational trauma and the fact that so many of the murders did not get investigated. Grann looks at the repercussions on a people who have been abused and neglected by the government and justice system that was meant to protect them.
Throughout Killers of the Flower Moon are pictures. Pictures of people, sometimes places but pictures to help remind you that these are not fictional characters. The tragedies that happened in Osage County during the 1920s were real. Killers of the Flower Moon isn’t a fictional mystery novel and the pictures help provide context but also to drive that fact home.
There was extensive research done for the Killers of the Flower Moon and Grann has both an “Archival and Unpublished Sources” and “Selected Bibliography” included at the end. It is proof that Grann did his work and provides credibility to all information presented in Killers of the Flower Moon. It is hard to realize that this tragic tale is not fiction but rather a true tale of horror that many people lived through.
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