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BOOK REVIEW: "Myths and Mysteries of Oklahoma" by Robert L. Dorman

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BOOK REVIEW: Myths and Mysteries of Oklahoma by Robert L. Dorman (Globe Pequot Press) 2013

Author and researcher Robert L. Dorman, a native Oklahoman and a professor of library science at Oklahoma City University has assembled a diverse and interesting series of 12 “mind-boggling tales” that begins with a chapter on “Custer’s Indian Family” and concludes with a piece on “The Oklahoma City Bombing Conspiracy.”

Now, while I am deeply familiar with the mysteries swirling (to this day) around the details of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995, killing 168 people, I was not familiar with General George Armstrong Custer’s alleged relationship with a Cheyenne woman Meotzi, who was present at the massacre at the Battle of the Washita in 1868 and the child believed to have been Custer’s “alleged Indian son.”

One thing Dorman overlooked, was actually naming the notorious, Native American-hating general by his full name, using only “Custer,” as if every reader would know his full name.

An unfortunate oversight. Nevertheless, we get several chapters on those early days of Oklahoma’s history when there was all sorts of meddling in trying to get the state capital located in certain location, narrowing down to Guthrie and Oklahoma City. And we know how that turned out. Still, Dorman’s historical take on those actions are interesting for any student of Oklahoma history, particularly those early years of the territory and transitioning to statehood.

One story Dorman addresses that I personally looked into, as a reporter for The Lawton Constitution some years ago, was regarding “Who’s Buried in Geronimo’s Grave”? So, did a some Yale University Skull and Bones chums dig up Geronimo's grave at the Fort Sill Apache cemetery 100 years ago? It seems pretty likely, Dorman notes. I tend to agree, following my own research.

Dorman offers chapters on the famous 1970 murder case involving the death of E.C. Mullendore III. One of the most famous cases of its nature in the history of the Sooner State, taking place in Osage County. Was it Chub Anderson? Well, he died in 2010, so we'll probably never really know the truth. 

The author also delves into the equally-controversial death of Kerr-McGee plutonium plant worker Karen Silkwood who died in late 1974 shortly after discovering her exposure to plutonium, following her criticism of safety policies where workers were exposed to dangerous levels of lethal, radioactive material. Why did Silkwood's car crash? Was she run off the road? Was she murdered?

The cases highlighted in Dorman's book are well-known and pretty straightforward. I didn't note any particularly breakthrough information here. Still, it's worth reading if only to brush up on some of the better-known mysteries in our state. And there are many. 

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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