Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann Review

Title: Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
Author: David Grann
Publisher:  Doubleday
Format: eBook
Publication Date: April 18th, 2017 
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Libby (Overdrive)

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 F.B.I. 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 to 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.

A true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history.

This is not a genre that I am typically drawn too(true crime books), but it popped up in my library’s app and I knew I had to read this. I love true crime, but I typically listen to podcasts or watch tv shows like Cold Case Files( Hosted by Bill Kurtis ONLY no others need apply). So I knew I was going to find this fascinating, and boy did I.This book is an indictment on the way Europeans treated the Native Americans. If you have ever thought that it wasn’t that bad, or they deserved it, or maybe you’ve never thought about it, please pick up this book.

“The blackest chapter in the history of this State will be the Indian guardianship over these estates,” an Osage leader said, adding, “There has been millions—not thousands—but millions of dollars of many of the Osages dissipated and spent by the guardians themselves.” This so-called Indian business, as White discovered, was an elaborate criminal operation, in which various sectors of society were complicit. The crooked guardians and administrators of Osage estates were typically among the most prominent white citizens: businessmen and ranchers and lawyers and politicians. So were the lawmen and prosecutors and judges who facilitated and concealed the swindling (and, sometimes, acted as guardians and administrators themselves). In 1924, the Indian Rights Association, which defended the interests of indigenous communities, conducted an investigation into what it described as “an orgy of graft and exploitation.” The group documented how rich Indians in Oklahoma were being “shamelessly and openly robbed in a scientific and ruthless manner” and how guardianships were “the plums to be distributed to the faithful friends of the judges as a reward for their support at the polls.” Judges were known to say to citizens, “You vote for me, and I will see that you get a good guardianship.”

This was a full on attack against the Osage Indians, and quite frankly it’s terrifying that it’s part of our history. That being said I think everyone should know this story and they should have to reflect on it. It is heartbreaking how even to this day those murders affect the lives of the Osage. The way that this was so pervasive and intertwined with their lives is just mind boggling. I can’t give enough credit to the work the author and generations of Osage who were willing to talk and work with him. 5 out of 5 stars.

**Please Note: This review is my honest opinion and I did not receive monetary compensation from it.**
Find DAVID GRANN online:
“To believe that the Osages survived intact from their ordeal is a delusion of the mind. What has been possible to salvage has been saved and is dearer to our hearts because it survived. What is gone is treasured because it was what we once were. We gather our past and present into the depths of our being and face tomorrow.”
― David Grann, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI