Our new topic in our Countries and Continents theme is the USA and will run across a few months partly because there is so much to cover and partly because we are all so busy at the moment! To start this new theme, I want to highlight a really important read that recently blew my mind!
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
This new and unbelievable read by David Grann is breath-taking and deserves to win awards! Killers of the Flower Moon: Oil, Money, Murder and the Birth of the FBI is a book about a wide scale genocide of the Native American Osage tribe in Oklahoma in the early decades of the twentieth century. It will be made into a film just as Grann’s previous book the The Lost City of Z: A Legendary British Explorer’s Deadly Quest to Uncover the Secrets of the Amazon has been. Grann writes the book as if it is a crime fiction thriller making you rush through to see what happens. At times it is hard to comprehend exactly what you are reading as the acts committed are so astonishingly outrageous, you are dumbfounded as to how these actions could be real but real they are.
What is so intriguing about this book is that I had never heard of the Osage tribe who were extremely wealthy in the first part of the 1900s due to them living on oil rich lands. Though similar to the Australian aborigines, they were treated like children by many of the white population and not trusted to look after their own affairs and finances, hence a system of white guardianship was introduced. This meant that white senior men in the community were entrusted to look after the dividends and financial wealth of the Osage population. This system of guardianship was open to abuse and more sinisterly led to murder. This book follows the investigation of the murders of the Burbank family, a prominent Osage family in the area.
The system was so corrupt that when numerous numbers of Osage either went missing and turned up dead or were poisoned, no one was held accountable. This turn of extraordinary events coincided with the formation of J Edgar Hoover’s FBI which ultimately was sent to solve the murders. This task was so dangerous that previous investigators had been murdered during their investigations. This meant that most of the new detectives (apart from the lead Tom White and partner John Burger) had to go undercover. One posed as an insurance salesman, another a cattle rancher and one was native American himself. The story of how the case was solved is ingenious as they had no real forensic knowledge compared to now. It was old fashioned and dangerous hard detective work. Although the outcome of the case is startling, the story doesn’t end there as David Grann travels to Oklahoma to find out about more about many of the other Osage murders that were unsolved. What he finds is horrific and for this discovery alone and for making these atrocities more widely known, Grann should be applauded.