Following years of mistreatment and abuse, the people of the Osage tribe would find themselves amongst the richest people in the world after vast oil reserves were discovered within their land. Unfortunately, money doesn’t always buy happiness and despite their incredible wealth, they could not buy an ounce of respect.
But something much worse began happening – someone began killing the Osage off. As the tribe looked on helplessly as friends and family were being slaughtered, they reached out to the federal government for assistance in stopping the murders. J. Edgar Hoover and his yet to be named investigative division would send Tom White, an agent with a long history of success, to uncover the culprit.
This was an incredibly captivating read from start to finish. I have got to hand it to David Grann and his impressive investigative work in producing a style of narrative storytelling that had kept me riveted throughout. It certainly helped that I had no prior awareness of this horrific story; a lack of knowledge that kept me guessing right up until the conspiracy was unveiled.
Knowing what we know now about institutionalized racism in 2022, it should not shock me when I read about the mistreatment of minorities over one hundred years ago, but there were still parts where I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. Burdening the wealthy Osage people with white guardians who would be responsible for overseeing in what manner money was granted and spent was a process rife with corruption (the only time you could escape guardianship is if you had “mixed-blood”, in that you had one white parent). Tom White being hesitant to take the killer to trial as he did not expect a jury or judge would convict someone for killing an Aboriginal person (“..the question for them to decide is whether a white man killing an Osage is murder – or merely cruelty to animals”).
This is one of those books that causes the reader to suffer from late nights and the “just one more chapter” syndrome. I blew through this in only a few days. I think this book belongs right up there with some of the best true crime works you can read. The highest possible recommendation.