Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

The Osage Nation once roamed the Great Plains, from Missouri to the Rockies. As the buffalo population died off, their dwindling numbers finally forced them to negotiate a deal with the United States government to live in what one chief called a "big pile of rocks" in the no-man's land of northeast Oklahoma. The one bright spot? The tribe's savvy lawyer who secured mineral rights in perpetuity for the original 2,000 registered members on the Osage Roll. When oil was discovered outside rundown Pawhuska in 1894, their world was upended. By the Roaring '20s, "the Osage were considered the wealthiest per capita people in the world." Then, mysteriously and systematically, tribe members began to die of poison, odd diseases, gunshots, even a house bombing. The ragtag local police found no suspects as the deaths continued to mount. The Osage "Reign of Terror" had begun.

Killers of the Flower Moon is the sterling history of this forgotten drama that precipitated the first successful major crime prosecution by J. Edgar Hoover's fledgling Federal Bureau of Investigation. In the seasoned hands of historian and New Yorker staff writer David Grann (The Lost City of Z), it is a thoroughly researched narrative with helpful archival photos--as colorful as many of the characters and as well paced as a good true crime thriller. Tracking the killers is Hoover's former Texas Ranger Tom White, who was "six feet four and had the sinewy limbs and the eerie composure of a gunslinger." In Killers of the Flower Moon, Grann turns his years of primary source research into a storytelling wonder. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

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