Shocking would be the word, if countless cases hadn’t proven how terrible people can be to each other. Monstrous might be better. Evil. Horrific. For fans of Erik Larson, Jon Krakauer, or Grann’s previous book, The Lost City of Z, Killers of the Flower Moon exposes a little known saga of American history, and the previously unknown extent of the conspiracy which spiraled out from those events. In an ironic turn, massive oil deposits were found on the remote reservation that the Osage tribe had been forced onto, making them the wealthiest people per capita in the world. Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. Based on original research and primary sources, Killers is a nonfiction thriller that ranks in the absolute best of the genre.
This is a sordid story from America’s history that I had never heard before. The Osage Indians were hustled off their land onto a small piece of Oklahoma scrub land that white men didn’t want. That is, until oil was discovered. After tribe members became immensely rich, many died in unexpected and unnatural ways. Local law enforcement couldn’t come to any conclusions so in comes a group of undercover agents from the Bureau of Investigation, later becoming the FBI, in one of the earliest uses of national law enforcement. This thrilling, infuriating true crime story uses the stories of individuals like Mollie Burkhart to examine the larger tale of greed and murder. Officially 24 died in this “reign of terror” but the story is much broader and its impact is still felt today. This is non-fiction that I wish weren’t true but it reads like a fantastic conspiracy tale from the best of our fiction story tellers.
“One of the most horrific chapters in American history is brought back to the national consciousness with alarming detail in Killers of the Flower Moon. After the Osage Indian Nation strikes oil, its members become rich beyond their wildest dreams, only to encounter a vast and murderous conspiracy that will leave more than 60 members of the nation dead. David Grann reconstructs those murders and the subsequent investigations with astonishing care and reveals the depths of a conspiracy that stretched from Oklahoma to Washington, D.C. This story will certainly be one of the most important books of 2017.”
— Steven Shonder, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, IL
“Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann (The Lost City of Z) is a page-turner that reveals a part of American history long forgotten. In the 1920s, the Osage Indians of Oklahoma were some of the wealthiest people in the world. They were also being poisoned and murdered. Grann covers all the sordid details, brings the principal characters to life, and just when you think it’s all figured out, reveals new information. It’s a compelling story of greed, betrayal, J. Edgar Hoover, the Wild West, and murder, still resonating with the Osage today.”
— Alison DeCamp, Between the Covers, Harbor Springs, MI