2017 National Book Award Finalist, Nonfiction

David Grann

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann David Grann
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
(Doubleday / Penguin Random House)

ISBN: 9780385534246

National Book Foundation: Why did you write this book?
David Grann: The book grew out of a visit I made the Osage Nation Museum, in Oklahoma, several years ago. When I was there, I came across a photograph on the wall, which was taken in 1914 and showed a seemingly innocent gathering of white settlers and members of the Osage Nation. But part of the picture had been cut out. When I asked the museum director why, she said that it contained the image of a figure so frightening that she had removed it. She then pointed to the missing panel and said, “The devil was standing right there.”
The figure was one of the white settlers who had participated in the systematic killing of the Osage for their oil money. The Osage had removed the image not to forget what had happened, but because they can’t forget. And yet so many others, including myself, had no knowledge of one of the most egregious racial injustices in American history, which is why I decided to write the book.
Foundation: What’s your favorite bookstore or library?
Grann: Ever since I was young, I’ve visited the New York Public Library, and I could not have written Killers of the Flower Moon without is indispensable archives.

judges' citation

Killers of the Flower Moon tells the story of the brutal murders behind white settlers’ attempted dispossession of an Osage family’s Oklahoma lands, under which lay some of the world’s most valuable oil fields. That this conspiracy of theft, terror, and genocide helped launch J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI deepens the narrative’s moral complexity. Structured taut as a noir, researched like an indictment, and written with hard-boiled empathy, the book leaves us to wonder at the unresolved and unrecorded crimes against Native Americans.


In Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann revisits a shocking series of crimes in which dozens of people were murdered in cold blood. Based on years of research and startling new evidence, the book is a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, as each step in the investigation reveals a series of sinister secrets and reversals. But more than that, it is a searing indictment of the callousness and prejudice toward American Indians that allowed the murderers to operate with impunity for so long. Killers of the Flower Moon is utterly compelling, but also emotionally devastating.

About the Author

David Grann is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the bestselling author of The Lost City of Z, which was chosen as one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other publications and has been translated into more than twenty-five languages. He is also the author of The Devil and Sherlock Holmes. His work has garnered several honors for outstanding journalism, including a George Polk Award.


- WEBSITE: davidgrann.netlify.com

- TWITTER: @DavidGrann

(Photo credit: Matt Richman)


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