Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann is one of my favorite non-fiction books – read my review to find out why!
With the movie coming out this month, it was high time I finished David Grann’s Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI. Find out what the book is about and read my review to find out why I gave it five out of five stars!
What is the book about?
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 FBI 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 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. [goodreads.com]
Wow. I’m not sure where to begin. Do I start with the awful events I was completely unaware of before reading this book? Do I start by saying that this book is so brilliantly written despite its horrific subject matter that I couldn’t put it down? All of that is true, which is why David Grann’s Killers of the Flower Moon is one of my favorite non-fiction books of all time.
Killers of the Flower Moon follows the Osage Nation in the 1920s when their riches reached an all-time high because of oil. The disappearances of these wealthy Native Americans appeared to be random and coincidental at first, but with time, a deeper, more sinister conspiracy emerged. The deaths are not accidental or coincidental; the Osage people are being murdered, and the earliest form of the FBI takes on its first significant case.
I knew David Grann was an excellent storyteller after reading The Wager, but I think he outdid himself with Killers of the Flower Moon. Between his research and his desire to help others who still need answers, he clearly put everything he had into this book. I recommend this to anyone interested in buried history or looking for a fascinating book to read.
Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone, Jesse Plemmons, and Brendan Fraser, is available in theaters on October 20th and later on Apple TV+. Watch the latest trailer: