"A fiercely entertaining mystery story and a wrenching exploration of evil" (Kate Atkinson)
From the best-selling author of The Lost City of Z, soon to be a major film starring Charlie Hunnam, Sienna Miller, and Robert Pattison, comes a true-life murder story that became one of the newly created FBI's first major homicide investigations.
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, they rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.
Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. Her relatives were shot and poisoned. And this was just the beginning, as more and more members of the tribe began to die under mysterious circumstances, and many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered.
As the death toll climbed, the FBI took up the case. It was one of the organization's first major homicide investigations, and the bureau badly bungled it. In desperation its young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to unravel the mystery. Together with the Osage, he and his undercover team began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history.
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A tale of stupefying greed, corruption and racism
Osage county, !920’s Oklahoma, and the native American people, the Osage, were notionally the wealthiest per capita of that time. Sitting atop vast oil reserves to which they had legal title, outsiders viewed their wealth variously as a source of fascination and envy. Indeed, and carrying over much of the vestiges of racism from the prior century, for many the Indians did not deserve to be so fortunate. Government policies of paternalism, corruption at state and local level in which whites were always favoured, and venal criminality leading to countless murders, meant for the Osage this period is remembered as the reign of terror.
I cannot recommend this book enough.
- P Garbett
The birth of the FBI