April Book Review - 'Killers of the Flower Moon' by David Grann

Apr 9, 2019

Between the years 1921 and 1924 at least 24 Osage Indians had been murdered and local officials did nothing to capture and punish the perpetrators. Newspapers across the country referred to this period as the "Osage Reign of Terror".

This month's review is of Killers of the Flower Moon: Oil, Money, Murder, and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann.

The Osage Indians, when forced to move to the Oklahoma Territory in the late 1800's, had the foresight to purchase their land as opposed to living on a Federal Reservation. It was soon found that their land was over a large oil deposit, and the Osage soon became what newspapers labeled as "The World’s Richest People Per Capita in the World" during the early 1900's.

The "non-Indians" living in the area still maintained a 19th century attitude toward the Osage and felt justified in working to separate the money from them. The thought was that it was okay to cheat, steal, and even kill the Osage for their money and no one would be punished.

Which was the case, as local authorities did nothing to catch the perpetrators of their murders...actually protecting those thought to be involved in the crimes.

The author was very diligent in his research and used interview notes of the private detectives hired by the Osage to solve the crimes, the notes of various law enforcement agencies involved in trying to solve the murders, the court records of the trials, and a variety of newspaper clippings dealing with the murders and the trials.

Tom White, a young agent of the Bureau of Investigation, was appointed by a young J. Edgar Hoover to investigate the murders and bring the perpetrators to justice and end the "Reign of Terror". Tom White and his team brought three people to trial and convicted all three for a few of the murders. This so called "success" helped lead Congress to establish the Federal Bureau of Investigation with Hoover as its leader.

Newspapers across the country hailed this fledgling Bureau as "A Thing of Majesty" for their success in solving the murders.

Killers of the Flower Moon provides a realistic and objective view of the life and values of the Osage and American Society during the 1920's. through his research, David Grann found there were also other persons responsible for many of the deaths who were not brought to trial and who became very wealthy as a result of their crimes.

Killers of the Flower Moon comes highly recommended and can be found in print at the Park City Library.