Non fiction is one of those genres that I read occasionally, but I don’t often seek out. For this reason this book fits the “Not in my Wheelhouse” square of my bingo card.
So, here’s what I knew about Oklahoma before starting this book: 1- I drove through it once on a cross-country trip with my dad when we moved from New Mexico to Maryland. It was very flat and I don’t remember much more. 2- It is where the wind comes sweeping down the plains, and the waving wheat can sure smell sweet when the wind comes right behind the rain. 3-In 1995 a homegrown terrorist blew up a government building and killed multiple people, and my friend’s mom took her rescue dog down there to help with the rescuing. 4- It is where Ree Drummond, of Pioneer Woman fame, lives.
And that’s pretty much it. It’s about four more things then I know about some states, for example Arkansas, but it isn’t a whole lot all things considered. And it’s especially enraging considering it was home to one of the largest killing sprees at the turn of the 20th century, and that fact has been almost completely erased from our national history. So yes, right around the time of the oil boom of the early 20th century a ton of oil was found under the Osage reservation. This made the Osage people very, very rich and so, because they weren’t WHITE rich people they became targets for some absurdly enraging policies. Oh, and they were murdered by people who wanted to get their hands on the rich oil rights. Grann tells this story, and how the Hoover used the publicity of these murders to build a national police force in the FBI. But even with the FBI involvement, Grann points out that so many murders happened and are just unsolved. It’s enraging. And it should be enraging.
I don’t often say that a book should be required reading, but good lord does this book make a strong case for being required reading. I mean, HOW did this shameful event just kind of disappear into the annals of history? I know the answer to that.