This is a wonderfully researched book about a very dark piece of US history. A branch of the Osage nation found themselves accidentally sitting on top of a massive oil deposit on their reservation in Oklahoma. If what followed had been in the 18th or 19th centuries it might not have been too surprising, but it actually took place in the 1920s.
Over a period of years numerous members of an extended Osage family died – either mysteriously or simply murdered and they all had enormous income from the oil. To begin with no one was charged with any of the killings and there were various reasons for that.
Grann was determined to get to the bottom of the story and the book does just that!
I don’t want to give too much away, because I really want as many people as possible to read this, but here are a few pointers. Many of the Osage, despite their wealth, were put under the oversight of a white ‘guardian’; the State political situation was rampantly rigged, and one man was at the head of the whole shenanigans.
Behind all this, what would later become the FBI was just being set up and J. Edgar Hoover appointed an investigator called Tom White to look into the whole affair.
The two heroes of this book are Tom White and David Grann.
Jack apologizes for missing last Wednesday completely but makes up for it by being on time today –
Used-book stores are great. Wendy and I have always managed to find one wherever we went in the early years of our marriage. So it wasn’t surprising that we wound up opening one when we moved to the town of Big Stone Gap in the very southwest tip of Virginia, some fourteen years ago. We quickly made it a ‘hanging out place’ where disparate (and sometimes desperate) folks found a haven. If you haven’t already, you can read all about it in ‘The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap’.
All things have their seasons, and for various reasons we moved to Wytheville, moving into our new home in early January 2019, in an 1890s sort of farmhouse meets French chateau. We’re still in the southwest edge of Virginia, but just closer to the interstate (that’s motorway for Scottish readers).
To our great delight we found that a used bookshop known as Oracle Books had opened a few months earlier on the main street. We quickly made friends with the owner, Randy, and the place turned out to be just like all the best bookstores we’d ever visited!
Up until the pandemic lockdown kicked in we were able to work with Randy to help introduce mini concerts of Scottish music some evenings, within his wider musical offerings. But, more importantly, we made many more friends and Oracle Books turned out to be the same kind of community center as all the best bookstores we ever experienced.
And then, as if things couldn’t get any better, Randy started a record section…..
He set up an area for LPs – yes vinyl! Here we are in very rural southern Appalachia and whenever something he thinks might interest me shows up he messages me. In among the bluegrass and country albums the most amazing and rare traditional Scottish albums also turn up. Since I present a weekly Celtic music radio show on a couple of local NPR stations as well as one in Scotland that’s a real bonus!
So here’s to used-book stores where e’er they may be – – – and here’s to Randy at Oracle!