Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann (“History is a merciless judge.”)

What a dreadfully boring book. If it had not been for the choice of my Book Club, and the responsibility I felt toward contributing to the discussion, I would not have finished it. As it was, each page was nearly tortuous to read, the writing as stilted as if I had been reading an encylopedia. Where was the passion? Where was the life within these characters? Absent, except for within my own imagination.

Certainly I am one of the few who feels this way, as Killers of The Flower Moon has been both a bestseller and a National Book Award Finalist. It’s possible I was disgruntled in part because of my intense passion for translated literature. But, I found the story slow to evolve and the characters largely devoid of life. However, it is does fit in perfectly with today’s recurring theme of the terrible white man, and all he has done to abuse others not of his race.

Grann tells the story of the Reign of Terror, in which Ernest Burkhart (following the orders of his uncle, William K. Hale) took away everything from his Osage wife’s family: her mother, sisters, brother-in-law, and trust were all sacrificed in his desire for the headrights (which the Osage had) to the oil fields in Oklahoma on which they lived.

In conjunction with the tale of the Osage murders, Grann relates tales of the judicial system in the 1920s and the subsequent birth of the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover. As my mother said, “It is hard to believe that the FBI is relatively new,” or that finger printing was not a common practice before the 1930s.

This book tells a heartbreaking tale of the horrible mistreatment of the Osage in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. But, in my opinion, their story was inelegantly told.

10 thoughts on “Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann (“History is a merciless judge.”)”

  1. Oh, dear! This is one that I’ve seen mentioned so many times on Goodreads and various “must read” lists for book clubs. I even thought about nominating it this year for my book group, but hesitated because I hadn’t read it or anything else by the author. I’m sorry it was such a disappointment. Did your book group enjoy it?

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    1. We haven’t met to talk about it yet, but I will let you know what the consensus was. Please remember I am such a particular reader, much of what the masses love, I do not. The premise is fascinating, and I really abhor what was done to the American Indians, but I found his writing….too factual. It was like reading a super long newspaper article.

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  2. Hello,
    I’m grateful that I chanced upon your site again after having commented once. It was a couple of years ago when I had another blog. We both spoke of being in Germany at the same time around the Berlin Wall; you as a relatively new teacher, me as an employee of Uncle Sam. I too am a particular and discerning kind of reader. The critic’s choices of great books have often rubbed me the wrong way. This title was recommended to me, but after your review I think I’ll just hold off until there is absolutely no other books in the world that I’ve left unread. That could be a while 🙂 Have a great week!

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    1. How nice to have you visit and get reacquanted with me! It is quite possible, with all of our similarities, that this book would strike you in the same way it did me. Here’s to happy adventures reading together!

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  3. Well, this is the selection for the afternoon book group that I attend part of the time. The selection for March anyway. I have not read it yet. I have it on audio – maybe that might suit better. What I had heard made me think I might be OK with it, regardless of the fact that I don’t love non-fiction all that much. We’ll see. I shall not force the issue at all. I’m too old for that – ha! Sometimes I read the books they select and sometimes I don’t. It’s all good. Sometimes I go anyway and just listen and sometimes I skip the meeting. As I said, it’s all good. My mother’s parents grew up in Oklahoma so I think that aspect of it is interesting to me.

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    1. I love your easy attitude, Kay, as I found myself feeling mounting resentment that this book was keeping me from others I was eagee to open. Don’t think the audio wil be better; for me it was worse, as it is narrated (slowly) by a woman with a nicey-nicey voice. Do you know what I mean? As if she was reading to kindergartners? I found it better to read to myself, skimming as necessary. I’ll be eager to hear what you, and your book club, think about it.

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