...the strangest, most horrific story that Grann has told ... Grann folds it, neatly, into three hundred pages. But he also makes something much more out of the material—something deep, devastating, and almost unbearably sad. On the one hand, he takes in the entirety of what was done to the Osage and, by extension, to the American Indian. On the other, he paints intimate portraits of men and women who'd murder their husbands, their wives, their own children ... What we're left with are circles of complicity that widen and widen until, terrifyingly, they grow to encompass the reader as well.
...a masterful work of literary journalism crafted with the urgency of a mystery ... Contained within Grann’s mesmerizing storytelling lies something more than a brisk, satisfying read. Killers of the Flower Moon offers up the Osage killings as emblematic of America’s relationship with its indigenous peoples and the 'culture of killing' that has forever marred that tie.
...[a] disturbing and riveting book ... If this all sounds like the plot of a detective novel, you have fallen under the spell of David Grann’s brilliance...As a reporter he is dogged and exacting, with a singular ability to uncover and incorporate obscure journals, depositions and ledgers without ever letting the plot sag. As a writer he is generous of spirit, willing to give even the most scurrilous of characters the benefit of the doubt ... in these last pages, Grann takes what was already a fascinating and disciplined recording of a forgotten chapter in American history, and with the help of contemporary Osage tribe members, he illuminates a sickening conspiracy that goes far deeper than those four years of horror. It will sear your soul.
Grann’s new book, about how dozens of members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma in the 1920s were shot, poisoned or blown to bits by rapacious whites who coveted the oil under their land, is close to impeccable. It’s confident, fluid in its dynamics, light on its feet. What it lacks is the soulful, trippy, questing and offhandedly cerebral quality of his last and best-known book, The Lost City of Z ... Killers of the Flower Moon has cleaner lines, and it didn’t set its hooks in me in the same way. But the crime story it tells is appalling, and stocked with authentic heroes and villains. It will make you cringe at man’s inhumanity to man ... Reading his book reminded me that the magazine’s founding editor, Harold Ross, once dreamed of starting a serious true-crime magazine he planned to call Guilty? This never came to pass. Grann’s book investigates one painful splinter of America’s treatment of its native people, and it snips the question mark off Ross’s title.
Flower Moon opens with the feel of an Erik Larson book — Devil in the White City, perhaps: an entertaining murder mystery set in the historical context of 100 years ago. But Grann’s book quickly grows darker, and then darker still. It is superbly done — meticulously researched, well-written — but it is hard to be entertained by a story of such unmitigated evil ... Grann digs deep. He spent years on the research, examining FBI files, court testimony, private correspondence, field reports from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, diary entries and scores of other documents. The result is a powerful book — not entertaining, no, but fascinating; an outrageous, devastating read.
Reading Mr. Grann’s writing has long given the same pleasure as reading a stylish, finely crafted detective story ... Hale was eventually convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Yet Mr. Grann seems barely interested in Hale as a character, giving a few details of his life in an early chapter and then neglecting any quotes or letters or dramatic scenes that might have been revealing ... But for all the murders and plots, for all the good pursuing evil, and for all the wealth that lured the greedy, Killers of the Flower Moon isn’t dramatic at all ... While not dramatic, Killers of the Flower Moon is something rather deep and perplexing and not easily forgotten.
""Grann tells the story of the Osage investigation with a Dashiell Hammett-like gift for suspense (appropriate, perhaps, since Hammett was himself briefly a Pinkerton op). Grimly entertaining, Killers of the Flower Moon is a marvel of detective-like research and narrative verve. Not surprisingly, it too is poised to become a Hollywood film.""
Grann’s singular skill is to find a story that, while not unknown, is not known enough, and to dig so deeply and precisely into the historical record that what he finds not only amplifies and builds upon that record but arrives with the force of revelation. This is a book that may significantly alter your view of American history. It did mine ... What makes Killers of the Flower Moon so compulsively readable is Grann’s ability to draw characters from the pages of history and give them the aura of living, breathing humans. ... Grann’s profound achievement in Killers of the Flower Moon is to construct the intellectual puzzle with infinite skill while never losing sight of the human impact of the brutal crimes against the Osage.
Grann [is] canny about the stories he chases, he’s willing to go anywhere to chase them, and he’s a maestro in his ability to parcel out information at just the right clip: a hint here, a shading of meaning there, a smartly paced buildup of multiple possibilities followed by an inevitable reversal of readerly expectations or, in some cases, by a thrilling and dislocating pull of the entire narrative rug ... But inside the wildly entertaining plot strands of Killers of the Flower Moon sits an untidy and deadly serious story. To his credit, Grann seems to understand this, and when he appears, it’s not as a hero, like White, but simply as a messenger, albeit one with a Hollywood-size megaphone. Here’s hoping he continues to use it so well.
Grann employs you-are-there narrative effects to set readers right in the action, and he relays the humanity, evil, and heroism of the people involved. His riveting reckoning of a devastating episode in American history deservedly captivates.
Grann spins a riveting tale told from dusty archives. Much of his research was pouring over wills, ledgers, and court transcripts. But what emerges is a horrifying story of conspiracy and white complicity. I read the book as I traveled through Oklahoma, while the president went to Tennessee and lauded the legacy of Andrew Jackson—it made the past feel desperately present ... What emerges is a complicated portrait of a woman who still remains largely voiceless. This isn’t entirely Grann’s fault. Burkhart didn’t leave much of her voice behind and Grann’s writing is careful not to speculate, not to overstep, or imagine. Yet, in turning to the historical record to find her, she evades rendering ... Killers of the Flower Moon calls forth a history of memory, of loss, of silence, and white complicity, all of which are still part of our devastating national reality. Despite its flaws, it is an important and powerful read.
Some of this history have been told before, though not by someone with the graceful touch of Grann. His attention to the craft of writing is matched by his obsessive research — really, the only sort of research that matters ... In the third and final section, Grann visits the reservation, in what will be one of several trips. This is when Killers of the Flower Moon shifts from a solid book into a revelatory experience. There will be no spoilers here. Let it simply be said that not everything was as it appeared to be. Alas, it was worse.
...here lies the macabre intimacy that marks this out from other stories of mass killing of American Indians: inheritance, of course, entailed marrying Native women, raising children with them while knowing the plan’s murderous outcome ... Though Grann does not write like a Cormac McCarthy or Larry McMurtry, one can forget sometimes that this is historical investigation, and not fiction in their vein. Then turn the page, and there are photographs of the characters about whom we are reading, from the archive, in real life ... a timely and disturbing chapter in the original, terrible atrocity.
Grann has sweated the details: dug into the archives, interviewed surviving principals and peripherals, thought long and hard about what he has heard and read, and—despite his relative youth—displays an old-school, learned hand in Killers of the Flower Moon. He is also a canny raconteur, providing both the play-by-play and the color commentary, following one thread, then picking up another, and so the tapestry of the story takes shape ... The case turns on a bit of serendipity—and there will be no spoilers here. Let it be said that Killers of the Flower Moon follows the painstaking disentangling of all those threads. It is deeply gratifying when the last thorny knot comes loose, the villains such a surprise. Still, the story is deeply saddening, and though Grann plays it like a violin, it is mournful tune.
David Grann delivers a haunting, inexplicably forgotten real-life tale of improbable wealth and unspeakable horror in his new book, which is all but certain to spend ample time on best-of and bestseller lists alike ... Readers will find the stain of that blood all but impossible to wash away after reading Grann’s absorbing but disturbing story.
Grann’s no-frills narrative allows the facts to do the talking and the peril and body count that escalate page-by-page to create the suspense ... A talented storyteller, Grann knows how to make distant times and crimes feel present and personal.
Grann’s reporting and archival sleuthing ballast a powerful account, which, at its best, evokes the noirish worlds of the movies Chinatown and L.A. Confidential ... The last section of Killers of the Flower Moon is a haunting exploration of the legacy of these crimes, and a first-person account of Grann’s encounters with Mollie’s granddaughter and other tribe members, as well as his exacting, even fanatical, research. As Grann discovers a pattern of mysterious deaths that extends far beyond the official tally, a sense of creeping dread takes hold of the reader and never lets go.
In language as spare and affecting as that land north of Tulsa, author David Grann vividly tells how the killer, an influential rancher, systematically arranged for the murder of at least two dozen members of the Osage Indian Nation and how he was brought to justice.
...[an] expertly crafted narrative ... A historical detective of the first order, Grann weaves his work of narrative nonfiction so well and so subtly that he puts the reader right there in that time and place, revealing plot twists only as they became known. Grann also blends into his narrative how the murders became J. Edgar Hoover’s first significant test of the capabilities of the fledgling FBI.
...as Grann carefully shows, the FBI’s victory declaration obscured the scope of headright-related killings. The US’s official death count for the Reign of Terror topped out at 24, but scholars who delved into the historical evidence believed the real death toll to be in the hundreds. Most of the murders weren’t solved. Instead, Grann says, the victims’ 'descendants carry out their own private investigations, which have no end. They live with doubts, suspecting dead relatives or old family friends or guardians' ... Grann’s accomplished and necessary account of injustice, avarice and racist violence, tells a story both old and new.
...a very painful, but essential book in understanding American history of the same rank and nature as Dee Brown’s 1970 classic, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee ... [Grann] not only chases down every loose end in the publicly available account of the Osage members, weaving a riveting story, but he also pursued as an eagle-eyed reporter modern loose ends, adding poignant details that extend the story into our times. His success in tracking the story adds to the horror of what occurred in Oklahoma in the 1920s but also makes it at least partly comprehensible how human beings could have done what was done to the Osage and remain identifiable as human beings with feelings, a perception otherwise hard to grasp.
This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs. Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.
Grann burnishes his reputation as a brilliant storyteller in this gripping true-crime narrative ... Grann demonstrates how the Osage Murders inquiry helped Hoover to make the case for a 'national, more professional, scientifically skilled' police force. Grann’s own dogged detective work reveals another layer to the case that Hoover’s men had never exposed.