Tim Stanley

There Will Be Blood

Killers of the Flower Moon

By

Simon & Schuster 338pp £20 order from our bookshop

The past is not just a foreign country in David Grann’s Killers of the Flower Moon: it is also a crime scene. Grann tells the story of the Osage Nation, a Native American tribe that struck oil in dirt-poor Oklahoma. By the 1920s, the Osage were reckoned to be the richest people on earth. They also became the most murdered. 

They died by shooting, poisoning, even dynamiting. Several were probably killed by their own husbands or wives – white people who had married them for their wealth. This was no grand conspiracy, no industrial genocide like the one the Nazis orchestrated. It was casual murder. On the occasions when a culprit was caught and a jury was asked to convict a white person of killing an Osage, no one was quite sure what verdict to reach. A tribe member explained: ‘The question for them to decide is whether a white man killing an Osage is murder – or merely cruelty to animals.’

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'The breadth of Clarke’s knowledge and experience, coupled to a conspicuous absence of pomposity, makes for easy an… ,
    • In this month's Silenced Voices, Lucy Popescu shines a light on Myanmar's persecution of writers and journalists, p… ,
    • Lecture on war and peace in 19th-century Europe by Professor Sir Richard Evans, Thurs 25 Oct, 6.30pm Europe House… ,
    • 'Why, throughout the world, are so many people fascinated by the fiction and reality of espionage? And why of all p… ,
    • . here on books, Muriel Spark and life's tangled dance ,
    • RT : There aren't enough aggressive subtitles these days: ,
    • Churchill's on the cover of the October edition of the magazine. Piers Brendon reviews two new books about the Brit… ,