The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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“Killers Of The Flower Moon” Book Review and Cinematic Preview

A new masterful non-fiction book promises to stick with readers and moviegoers in the near future.
Photo Courtesy / YouTube The1920sChannel

“Killers Of The Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI,”  is a harrowing retelling of a series of racially-motivated murders in 1920s Oklahoma. The book explores themes that echo loudly in the modern-day political landscape: racism, entitlement and the oil-industrial complex. 

Although the story itself is over a hundred years old, the mistreatment of the Native American nation — the Osage — is undoubtedly connected with the greed of the Iran and Iraq wars and the invasion of Kuwait. These modern examples demonstrate the societal lust for wealth and oil superseding human rights is a continuous problem and one that has not been combatted since the Osage were forcibly pushed into extinction in the last century. 

The book’s connection to modern-day issues is what elevates “Killers Of The Flower Moon” into a different stratosphere of societal importance than the average non-fiction or textbook readings. It perfectly encapsulates the homicidal excesses of capitalism, the underbelly of the “American Dream,” and makes “Killers Of The Flower Moon” a must-read for college students, young adults and individuals in all walks of life. 

The story is centered around the nation of the Osage, who, during the Industrial Revolution, became the wealthiest group of people per capita due to a large depository of oil discovered beneath their land. This sudden and immense wealth changed the entire complexion of the tribe by upgrading their quality of life through the construction of sizable houses, sending their children to better schools and indulging in all the extravagant trappings of the time. 

This was an overwhelmingly positive development for a nation that, like most Native American Tribes in our country’s history, were forcibly removed from their homeland, and relegated to a seemingly barren reservation. 

This changed when members of the Osage Tribe started being brutally murdered by an unidentified killer, or group of killers, in increasingly brazen ways. The death toll rose into the double digits and eventually swelled to twenty-four total deaths among the tribe without an arrest or a single credible suspect. This is where J. Edgar Hoover, and his newly founded “Federal Bureau of Investigation,” got involved in the case. 

Hoover sent a lawman with the alias of “Tom White,” to Oklahoma in an effort to resolve the cold cases. 

The book was written by native New Yorker and acclaimed journalist David Grann. Grann spent years researching and writing the project, spending prolonged periods of time in Oklahoma sifting through records and attempting to piece together the narrative surrounding the Osage Indian Tribe. 

A historical epic mixed with a true-crime thriller, “Killers Of The Flower Moon,” is one of the most acclaimed pieces of 21st century literature

The result is a true-crime story with the pacing and suspense of a well-written novel. 

“Killers Of The Flower Moon,” is paradoxical; it is a book that’s both captivating and chilling. Nightmare-inducing and oddly satisfying when finished, all 352 pages of the novel capture the reporting and re-telling of the tribe’s story. 

Grann methodically examines the murders, the suspects, the legal investigation and the ensuing murder trial with a rhythm usually only found in works of fiction by masters of the genre like Elmore Leonard and Agatha Christie. It offers a glimpse into the profound racism and greed of the Industrial Revolution and our nation as a whole, and operates as a page-turner in a way that stories this sadistic usually don’t. 

The book was adapted for the silver screen by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Eric Roth of “Forrest Gump” fame, and directed by another Oscar winner, Martin Scorsese. The film, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Jesse Plemmons is currently in post-production and slated for release in early 2023. 

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