KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON/DAVID GRANN/THE OSAGE TRAGEDY

David Grann’s extraordinarily researched work of non-fiction, Killers of the Flower Moon, The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, details  yet another contemptible and murderous abuse of  Native Americas.  The killing of many dozens of Osage Indians in Osage County, Oklahoma were conceived and carried out by the white establishment over a period of two murderous  decades.  The motive?  A common theme of greed, in this case stealing from the Osage the mineral rights to the booming oil field discovered on their reservation  in the early 1900s.

When J. Edgar  Hoover  was first named head of what was  later to become the Federal Bureau of Investigation he prioritized the solving of the Osage Indian murders and turned to Texas Ranger Tom White to lead the investigation. The details of this tragedy are shocking. It was a conspiracy the specific purpose of which was to kill Osage and their descendants in order to steal the valuable mineral rights that had made the Osage among the wealthiest per capita people in America.  Local law enforcement was major part of the conspiracy.

Grann spares no detail in uncovering the horror of this injustice.  The accolades he has received from the literary  community speak to the importance of this work. High praise from Jon Krakauer, Erik Larsen, John Grisham and S.C. Gwynne.

David Grann also authored The Lost City of Z and The Devil and Sherlock Holmes.

 

 

 

CAMINO ISLAND/ JOHN GRISHAM/AUTHORS REPLACE LAWYERS

Again, John Grisham proves himself among the great storytellers in American literature.  CAMINO ISLAND fits the bill for a wonderful summer read and Grisham leaves the lawyers  behind and writes of authors, writers and the theft of  the original  F. Scott Fitzgerald  manuscripts from their safekeeping at Princeton University.  He is so compelling in his prose,  of course, you believe it may have  actually happened.

And so the story begins  and the twists and turns roll through the pages. As is my custom, I will allow you to discover the conclusion. The good news is that the novel m,reads so well you will arrive at the finish in four sittings or less.

A refreshing good read,  An enjoyable break from some heavier selections on your summer list.

 

 

 

IN THE KINGDON OF ICE/ THE USS JEANNETTE

Hampton Sides, author of Ghost Soldier and Blood and Thunder has impeccably researched and brilliantly written the saga of the ill-fated  North Pole quest of the USS Jeannette. In The Kingdom of Ice is an adventure narrative that keeps the reader gripped to the pages throughout the journey.  If you have read the story of  Ernest Shackleton’s  expedition with the ship Endurance you will be astounded  by the incredible story of  George De Long and his ship the Jeannette.

Within these pages, author Sides unfolds the parallel story of James Gordon Bennett Jr , owner of the New York Herald, adding  historical dimension to this work of non-fiction. Publisher Bennett, always seeking ways to dramatically promote his newspaper’s  circulation , stepped forward to underwrite the entire cost of De Long’s quest for the North Pole. Bennett was the same publisher who sent Stanley to find Livingstone, thought to be lost in the depths of Africa. That story, as would coverage of the fate of the Jeannette, became a sensation as it unfolded in the pages of the Herald. 

I recommend this read with great enthusiasm.  You will be unable to leave these pages until the fate of every man who sailed aboard the Jeannette is known.

 

HILLBILLY ELEGY/ A BEST SELLING MEMOIR

Hillbilly Elegy, a memoir written by J.D. Vance , is a brisk read that has established itself on the New York Times Best Seller List.  The book is a captivating personal story with a broad reach into class distinctions within American society.  Vance extends the hillbilly narrative beyond the hollers of his Kentucky heritage.

I am reminded of two similar memoirs,  Jeannette  Walls’ The Glass Castle  and Tobias Wolff’s  This Boy’s Life.  I would not attempt a ranking here but the status of Wall’s book as a best seller in this genre speaks for itself.  Time will tell if Hillbilly Elegy has similar staying power.

J.D Vance’s personal story is  a narrative of a culture that few American’s know or understand.  It’s impact is broadened because it is contemporary and opens a greater understanding of the polemic in which the country finds itself today.

Narrated with  shocking honesty, Vance’s story took  great courage to tell. It is deserving of your summer reading list.

J.D. Vance is a graduate of Yale Law School and is an Investment Banker in San Francisco.

 

A PIECE OF THE WORLD ” CHRISTINA’S WORLD ” A MUST READ NOVEL

Christina Baker Kline, author of Orphan Train, has eclipsed that acclaimed novel with her latest, A Piece of the World.   This marvelous work of historical fiction is a priority read adding illuminating context to the story behind America’s most famous painting , Andrew Wyeth’s  Christina’s World.

I have been to the Olsen House  in Cushing on that spit of land on the Maine Coast. However, now that I have read  A Piece of the World, I will eagerly travel there again with a new perspective having met through this wonderful novel, Christina, the woman who Andrew Wyeth immortalized in his painting Christina’s World.

Once you read A Piece of the World you will be drawn into Wyeth’s painting as never before.  When  you visit the farmhouse in Maine the humanity that was once there will become very much among the living.

Also, visit the Wyeth family collection at the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland.

 

 

 

TOM CLANCY/FULL FAITH AND ALLEGIANCE

Prescient is my favorite description of Mark Greaney, Jack Ryan/ Tom Clancy novels.

TRUE FAITH AND ALLEGIANCE , although written in 2016 , speaks to 2017  cyber theft, the ISIS crisis, Saudi hidden agendas and terrorism inside the United States.  The book can only be described as another Greaney, Clancy page by page gripping thriller.

The entire Hendley Associates and White House cast is present and even if you have not read the majority of this series, TRUE FAITH AND ALLEGIANCE can work as a stand alone.

It is not summer yet but put this one on your reading list.  It will not disappoint.

You can find overviews of  the majority of  the Tom Clancy series here at gordonsgoodreads.com.

SHATTERED/INSIDE HILLARY CLINTON’S DOOMED CAMPAIGN

SHATTERED is certainly a read for enthusiasts of political intrigue. SHATTERED is not of the calibre of the late Richard Ben Cramer’s  WHAT IT TAKES or political writers  Caro, Goodwin or Meacham. However, Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes tell an insightful story of the disastrous 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign for the presidency.  The book raises a fundamental question of whether Hillary lost the election at the hand of herself and her organization.

A fundamental paradox raised throughout the book is the modern campaign issue of  analytics  and algorithms versus street level  political acumen and gut feeling.  Just as  the media projections of the 2016 election failed because of too much reliance on polling numbers, the direction of  Clinton’s campaign fell upon the same sword.

The writing in SHATTERED casts a broader picture of the campaign than just the numbers. It tells of infighting, sycophants, personalities, favorites and internal  power struggles.

Why did Hillary fail in  what many considered an easy win against Donald Trump ? SHATTERED  offers some answers.