Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI


From New Yorker staff writer David Grann, #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Lost City of Z, a twisting, haunting true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history

In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.

Then, one by one, they began to be killed off. One Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, watched as her family was murdered. Her older sister was shot. Her mother was then slowly poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more Osage began to die under mysterious circumstances.

In this last remnant of the Wild West—where oilmen like J. P. Getty made their fortunes and where desperadoes such as Al Spencer, “the Phantom Terror,” roamed – virtually anyone who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll surpassed more than twenty-four Osage, the newly created F.B.I. took up the case, in what became one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations. But the bureau was then notoriously corrupt and initially bungled the case. Eventually the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to try unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including one of the only Native American agents in the bureau. They infiltrated the region, struggling to adopt the latest modern techniques of detection. Together with the Osage they began to expose one of the most sinister conspiracies in American history.

In Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann revisits a shocking series of crimes in which dozens of people were murdered in cold blood. The book is a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, as each step in the investigation reveals a series of sinister secrets and reversals. But more than that, it is a searing indictment of the callousness and prejudice toward Native Americans that allowed the murderers to operate with impunity for so long. Killers of the Flower Moon is utterly riveting, but also emotionally devastating.

Title:Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
Edition Language:English
Format Type:
Number of Pages:320 pages

    Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI Reviews

  • Jeffrey Keeten

    ”Today our hearts are divided between two worlds. We are strong and courageous, learning to walk in these two worlds, hanging on to the threads of our culture and traditions as we live in a predomin...

  • Elyse

    Reading about injustice -historical tragedies--such greed - such ugliness---does something to us. It's hard to explain the depths of what transforms. We feel the anger... the incredible unfairness. We...

  • Trish

    That we as a nation, less than one hundred years after the Osage Indian killings, have no collective memory of these events seems an intentional erasure. The truth of the killings would traumatize our...

  • Diane S ?

    I don't know why or even how, after all I have read, I can still be surprised at man's cunning and greed. I knew nothing about the Osage Indians, certainly nothing about headrights that provided them ...

  • Liz

    A good nonfiction book will read as fast as a good piece of fiction, all the while imparting new knowledge to the reader. Destiny of the Republic, by Candice Millard, is a prime example. Now comes Kil...

  • Diane

    This is the best nonfiction book I've read this year. I've enjoyed David Grann's earlier work, but this latest one is just fantastic.Killers of the Flower Moon tells a story I hadn't heard before: The...

  • Perry

    Malfeasance toward Osage Inherent in the System Intended to Protect Them[revised/improved May 15, 2017]In the 1870s, the United States government drove the Osage nation in herds onto a small reservati...

  • Brandon Forsyth

    It's been a few months since a book truly grabbed me, both heart and mind, and wouldn't let me go. David Grann's latest is a compelling argument that he is the finest narrative non-fiction writer aliv...

  • Dem

    What an amazing insight into The Osage Indian murders which occurred in the early 1920s in Osage county Oklahoma. I had never heard of these murders and when I read reviews on this book by David Grann...

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    A good book friend of mine says that the best nonfiction reads like fiction, and Killers of the Flower Moon is that. I soak up any books seeped in culture. What I learned about Osage culture was a cor...