Killers of the Flower Moon

by

David Grann

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Themes and Colors
Racism and Exploitation Theme Icon
American Entitlement, Greed, and Corruption Theme Icon
Family, Legacy, and Trauma Theme Icon
History, Truth, and Lies Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Killers of the Flower Moon, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Racism and Exploitation

Killers of the Flower Moon describes the Osage Reign of Terror—a period that stretched from the early 1920s to the 1930s, in which uncountable numbers of the oil-rich Osage Indian tribe were murdered in a mad grab for valuable shares of the tribe’s mineral trust. At the center of this tragedy was a deep, permeating racism that not only sought to diminish the Osage, but in many cases denied them their humanity entirely. Through a…

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American Entitlement, Greed, and Corruption

Though the events it portrays took place nearly a century ago, Killers of the Flower Moon is very much a book for the modern era. Through his investigation into the Osage Reign of Terror and the reverberations the grisly ordeal has had throughout American history, David Grann paints a far-reaching and yet intimate portrait of how greed, entitlement, and corruption have defined American history, American society, and American institutions. Grann shows how entitlement turns into…

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Family, Legacy, and Trauma

Though the Osage Reign of Terror spanned over ten years and claimed the lives of hundreds, the murders at the core of Grann’s text largely befall one family: that of Mollie Burkhart, an Osage Indian who is forced to reckon with her husband Ernest’s betrayal—and her county’s racism, greed, and corruption—after her mother and three sisters perish over the course of just a couple years. Later in the book, as Grann follows Mollie’s…

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History, Truth, and Lies

David Grann chooses to close out Killers of the Flower Moon with a pained look at the ways in which history often obscures the truth, as much of it is based on a foundation of lies and fabrications. Grann uses the story of the Osage tribe and the Reign of Terror to argue that even though the truth is necessary, healing, and transformative, history—written by the “victors”—often perpetuates harmful and frustrating lies when it ought…

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