Killers of the Flower Moon

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Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
Killers of the Flower Moon - book cover.jpg
First edition cover design
AuthorDavid Grann
CountryUnited States
SubjectOsage Indian murders
Publication date
April 18, 2017
Media typePrint, e-book
Pages352 pp. (hardcover)
ISBN978-0-385-53424-6 (Hardcover)
Preceded byThe Devil and Sherlock Holmes 
Followed byThe White Darkness 

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI is the third non-fiction book by American journalist David Grann.[1] The book was released on April 18, 2017 by Doubleday.[2][3][4]

Time magazine listed Killers of the Flower Moon as one of its top ten non-fiction books of 2017.[5] The book is currently planned for production as a film directed by Martin Scorsese.


The book investigates a series of murders of wealthy Osage people that took place in Osage County, Oklahoma in the early 1920s—after big oil deposits were discovered beneath their land.[6][7] After the Osage Native Americans are awarded rights in court to the profits made from oil deposits found on their land, the Osage people prepare for receiving the wealth to which they are legally entitled from sales of their oil deposits.

However, a long and complex process of custodianship is imposed upon the distribution of the profits from the sales being made for very high profits and very few if any of the Osage people see any of this money. Still, they are the legal owners of the land and its profits, which is irksome to some of the administrators of the land who have a history of poor relations with the Osage people. Those elements hostile to the Osage people then decide that they could greatly simplify their profit mongering of the oil profits by eliminating those whom they consider to be operating as the "middle man" before they can abscond with the oil profits.

The Osage people themselves are seen as the "middle man" and a complex plot is hatched and put into place to eliminate the Osage people inheriting this wealth from oil profits on a one-by-one basis by any means possible. Officially, the count of the murdered full-blood wealthy Osage native Americans reaches at least 20, but Grann suspects that hundreds more may have been killed because of their ties to oil.[8] The book details the newly formed FBI's investigation of the murders, as well as the eventual trial and conviction of cattleman William Hale as the mastermind behind the plot.


Sean Woods of Rolling Stone wrote: "In his masterful new book...Grann chronicles a tale of murder, betrayal, heroism and a nation's struggle to leave its frontier culture behind and enter the modern world... Filled with almost mythic characters from our past – stoic Texas Rangers, corrupt robber barons, private detectives, and murderous desperadoes like the Al Spencer gang – Grann's story amounts to a secret history of the American frontier."[9]

A reviewer of Publishers Weekly stated "New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Lost City of Z) burnishes his reputation as a brilliant storyteller in this gripping true-crime narrative, which revisits a baffling and frightening—and relatively unknown—spree of murders occurring mostly in Oklahoma during the 1920s."[10]

Ed Vulliamy of The Guardian wrote "The genocide by white America against Native nations during the century leading up to Grann’s period is a metaphor for humanity’s decimation of the natural world which the Natives saw as sacred. Grann’s book is a timely and disturbing chapter in the original, terrible atrocity."[11]

Film adaptation[edit]

The book is being adapted into a film directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro. It will be released in 2021.[12]


  1. ^ Grann, David (May 18, 2017). "The Rare Archival Photos Behind 'Killers of the Flower Moon'". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  2. ^ Eggers, Dave (28 April 2017). "Solving a Reign of Terror Against Native Americans". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  3. ^ "Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann". Goodreads. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  4. ^ "Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann". Kirkus Reviews. 2 February 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  5. ^ Howorth, Claire (November 21, 2017). "The Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of 2017". TIME. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  6. ^ "Killers Of The Flower Moon: The Osage Murders And The Birth Of The FBI by David Grann". NPR. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  7. ^ "Killers Of The Flower Moon: The Osage Murders And The Birth Of The FBI by David Grann". Penguin/Random House. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  8. ^ Whaley, Monte (13 July 2017). ""Killers of the Flower Moon": Murdering the Osage for ill-gotten gains". The Denver Post. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  9. ^ Woods, Sean (April 17, 2017). "'Killers of the Flower Moon': Inside David Grann's New True-Crime Epic". Rolling Stone.
  10. ^ "Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  11. ^ Vulliamy, Ed (1 May 2017). "Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  12. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike (May 27, 2020). "Apple Partners With Paramount on Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio's 'Killers of the Flower Moon'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 27, 2020.

External links[edit]