Also, I listened to the audiobook version of this work.
A look into a fascinating yet disheartening (and often overlooked) passage of American history. The Osage murders represent the worst of American history: greed, colonialism, racism, ecological destruction, and more. Americans have a tendency to see the sins of their country as if through a turned around telescope; small and distant. Grann’s book helps turn the telescope the right way and brings this tragedy into better focus.
The book is competently written, though I felt that at times, Grann overreached when trying to give the work a novelistic feel. This approach worked better in his last book, The Lost City of Z, in part because he himself was more present in much of it.
I also felt the last section of the book fells a little flat. The first two sections are strictly historical, delving into the murders and their investigation. The last section attempts to move forward into the present day, showing the lasting impact of the crimes and his own attempts to research several unsolved murders. Overall it seemed underdeveloped, especially in comparison to the first two sections. Grann also quickly confesses to an inability to bring closure to most of the unsolved cases because of a lack of records. Still interesting, but less satisfying.
Also, I didn’t feel that Grann quite delivered on the “Birth of the FBI” part of the subtitle. I’m not denying parts of that story are here, but it never seemed to focus on the narrative.
Overall, I would highly recommend this book. First, it’s competently written and well researched. Second, as an American, especially in a time when much of our country chooses to whitewash our country’s history, to dwell in some kind of rose-tinted nostalgia, these kinds of stories must be told ands studied and learned from. Must be reckoned with and, if possible, made right (which, I know, is not actually possible, but we should try anyway).