📚😀 Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, by David Grann.
📖 Black gold. Texas tea. So goes the old “Beverly Hillbillies” sitcom rhyme. In this case, the tea is underground in Oklahoma, in the early days of American oil exploitation. Years before, the Osage native American tribe had been invaded and driven out of their ancestral lands into a remote corner of Oklahoma which was thought to be mostly barren of natural resources. When a vast reservoir of oil was discovered under their reservation, the impoverished Osage tribe became wildly, fabulously wealthy overnight. But this was during an era of profound inequity, racism, ignorance, cruelty, and apartheid across the United States. In every state, white supremacy was endemic, absolute, and brutally enforced by violence — legally or otherwise. What powerful white men wanted, they took. And they wanted the Osage people’s oil.
Read this astonishing true story to learn how and why a young J. Edgar Hoover, then-new director of the fledgling Federal Bureau of Investigation, got involved. What was revealed was a hideously evil, meticulously planned, years-long scheme to murder and steal hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of oil rights from the Osage people. A heartbreaking true story, painstakingly researched, exceptionally well-written, and vividly told. 📖
What I’m reading this week: “A Gentleman in Moscow,” by Amor Towles. 😀📚 Imagine being a member of the wealthy aristocracy in a grand city in the early 20th century. Your days and nights are filled with social encounters and clever repartee in every breathing moment. Servants are all around you, never betraying any hint of resentment at their confinement to a lower station, nor anything but utter contentment and devotion to their task of tending to your every need. Even when confined to house arrest by the Bolsheviks after the revolution has wiped out the old social order and replaced it with a new one, your prison is a luxury hotel, as befits your station. And naturally, the hotel is filled with interesting characters from every slice of the social strata with whom you may engage in fascinating conversations to pass the time and reinforce your social mastery though your sterling wit and charm. This is the world of “A Gentleman in Moscow,” and like a dinner guest who is impeccably charming, cultivated and au courant, the novel is endlessly entertaining — though the endless part sometimes obscures the entertainment. A well-fashioned escape into a rose-colored fantasy of old-world high society, set against the backdrop of a people’s revolution to provide essential cover for the reader to indulge in the guilty pleasure of high society role-play. The writing, especially the dialogue, is first-class and the plot development, though predictable at times, is interesting and keeps the pages turning. A pleasant and lightly edifying read, tailor-made for a richly costumed historical fiction film adaptation.
What I’m reading this week: The Secret of Thunder Mountain, by Fran Striker
The photos tell the story of this vintage adventure from 1952. Set in the deserts of the American Southwest, at the dawn of the nuclear era. A land of grit and desolation, where bold and wild characters search for rocks worth more than gold. Fran Striker’s journalistic writing style lends credence to the stark comic relief. Irony from another era. The descriptions and dialogue surrounding the gigantic main character, Gulliver bouncing over desert rocks in his customized jeep, are surprisingly entertaining. An unsung classic of the genre. #franstriker #bookreview
What I’m reading this week: Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng. 🔥📚
Where do we follow the rules, and where do we justify breaking them? Do our pasts determine what we deserve in the future? And is it ever possible to leave your past behind? These are some of the questions I hope the novel raises. —Celeste Ng, from the Penguin Readers Guide
What I’m reading this week: “Lost in a good game,” by Pete Etchells 🕹💡📖 Is it worse for young people to experience killing and death IRL (in real life), or in a video game? This is not merely an academic question. Deranged individuals now regularly commit IRL mass shootings using IRL weapons of war to murder innocent people. Yet those weapons of war only exist because they are used every day for the IRL official killing and death of people in less fortunate countries around the world. Are video games to blame for real deaths? Or are video games merely another vivid example of art imitating life? This book takes the latter view, and begins by sharing how video games actually helped the author, a psychologist, cope with the death of a loved one. Video games do not cause violent deaths— they are works of art that provide a dearly needed respite from the harshest realities of a dangerous real world beyond our control, according to the author. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this interesting book to learn how this thesis plays out. 📚
Time flies, books endure. 📚💡Photo of Kepler’s Books as it appeared in 1968. Kepler’s has been a beloved local mainstay since 1955. Its historic roots took hold during the counterculture revolution of the 1950’s and 1960’s, when Roy Kepler founded the shop to encourage social activism and democratize reading. In its heyday, Kepler’s was a cultural epicenter with a loyal following among Beat intellectuals, pacifists, Stanford students and faculty, and book lovers of all stripes for its commitment to fostering the exchange of “serious books and ideas.” Among many notable visitors over the years, the Grateful Dead and folk singer Joan Baez often appeared at Kepler’s holding impromptu salons to discuss ideas, political action, and music.
What I’m reading this week: “What is not yours is not yours” 📚🗝😀 by Helen Oyeyemi. I’m loving this collection of dreamlike short stories that turns on the idea of keys as a metaphor for our hidden perceptions. A refreshing stream of clear, evocative, sparse yet mesmerizing prose that ebbs and flows into ever deeper locks of subconscious meaning and insight as each story unfolds. The tales are interlocking, but in a wholly unexpected way, which adds to its brilliance. Not for the overly literal, despite its declarative style. A breakthrough, transcendent voice. Can’t wait to read more.