David Grann
Killers of the Flower Moon:
Oil, Money, Murder and the Birth of the FBI
Simon & Schuster, 2017

A Review by Rickey Pittman

The Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann was an enthralling read. Though I have been an avid reader and researcher for many years on America’s Native Americans, I knew little about the Osage, other than the fact they were fierce enemies of the Kiowa in the past. After watching Martin Scorsese’s wonderful, award-winning movie and reading Grann’s well-researched book, I received new insights into the Osage culture and their passage from rez Indians to becoming the wealthiest people in America.

 The book’s title fascinated me, speaking with double imagery—describing the beautiful flowers of the Osage hills and prairies seen in April that would die in the month of May—the flower-killing moon—and a title also suggestive of the killers who plagued the Osage in the early 20th century. The lands of the mighty Osage had shrunk until they were finally driven to what was then an undesirable section of Oklahoma; ironically that is, until those same lands were found to contain the richest oil fields in America. The Osage were smart enough to take advantage of their newly found wealth.

However, what could have been a dream fantasy for the Osage turned into a nightmare as so many Osage were murdered by white men who schemed, manipulated, bribed, and murdered so they could obtain the lands and oil income belonging to the Osage. Not only did the Osage suffer from such outlaws, they also suffered from the same corrupt politics our age suffers from—politicians, lawyers, judges and lawmen who lie, who use oppressive laws, and who are even willing to use brute force to get what they want. And if the book’s account of the newly formed FBI had not risen to deal with the Osage murders, there is no telling when these evils and murders would have stopped.            I would encourage the reader to both watch the movie and read Grann’s book. It will be an unsettling experience, but a rich one.

The book can be ordered HERE:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Grann is a staff writer at the New Yorker and the bestselling author of the Lost City of Z and the Devil and Sherlock Holmes. He has received several honors for outstanding journalism, including a George Polk Award.