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Don't Call Us Molls: Women of the John Dillinger Gang Paperback – November 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Clinton Cook Publishing Corp. (November 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0971720002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0971720008
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #415,312 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The Dillinger case from a unique perspective, the gang's women, whose stories are fascinating. Refreshingly different, crammed with new facts." --Rick Mattix, author of Public Enemies: America's Criminal Past 1919-1940

About the Author

Ellen Poulsen has worked as a staff writer for the Queens Chronicle, and she is the recipient of the Sandra Schor Nonfiction Award. She lives in Queens, New York.

More About the Author

Ellen Poulsen is a researcher in the field of 1930s crime history. "Don't Call Us Molls: Women of the John Dillinger Gang", and "The Case Against Lucky Luciano: New York's Most Sensational Vice Trial" are her two books. They reflect years of research and a life-long interest in the Depression-Era Public Enemy. In 2008, "The Case Against Lucky Luciano" won the Silver IPPY Medal for True Crime.

She has appeared on The Discovery Channel's special, "The Dillinger Conspiracy," and History Channel's "Crime Wave," and NYC Media's "Secrets of New York." She is currently working with a co-author, distinguished Dillinger historian Lori Hyde, on a biography of Matthew Leach, who was the Captain of the Indiana State Police in 1934 and a key figure in the hunt for John Dillinger.

The daughter of a New York City policeman, Ellen became fascinated with desperado John Dillinger when her father brought home a copy of John Toland's "The Dillinger Days" while she was still in elementary school. As a young adult she worked, had children and attended college. She earned a B.A. Degree in English at Queens College-C.U.N.Y. As an adult student, she studied nonfiction writing and received a total of three awards and scholarships.

Ellen can often be found entertaining audiences with a slide show and lecture in libraries and historical societies on the subject of the 1930s public enemies.

Customer Reviews

I highly recomend this book.
David G. Trautmiller
This book is well researched and captures the mood of the times.
Lee Murray
I found this book to be one of the more interesting.
tdav53

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By David G. Trautmiller on March 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
I have to say this is one of the best books on the "30's Outlaw ERA" I've read. I found more photos I haven't seen before and learned a ton of new facts. It was very refreshing to read about the women who loved these bad guys. This is a book that was way overdue. Ellen Poulsen did her homework and then some. I highly recomend this book. It is in important addition to any crime library. I know it is for mine.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Coluccio on November 5, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I believe that anyone who is interested in the Middle Western crime wave during the Great Depression is sure to enjoy this book. Ellen Poulsen leaves no stone unturned in this meticulously researched chronicle of the women behind the public enemies who shot their way into the headlines during the Thirties. The author provides us with a wealth of little known facts about Evelyn Frechette, Marie Conforti (real name Comforti), the Delaney sisters, Bess Green, Opal Long, Helen Gillis (Mrs. Baby Face Nelson), and scores of others who, through a combination of sheer misfortune and tough times, shared the beds of some of the most notorious outlaws in the annals of U.S. crime. An informative book which furnishes insight into the sad lives led by the "gun molls" glamorized by the press.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By George Klos on March 31, 2005
Format: Paperback
Ellen Poulsen's well-researched narrative tells the story of the Dillinger crime spree from the perspective of the "molls," the women who ran with them. This is hardly "feminist history," but Poulsen does analyze it from the perspective of the women she writes about. Most came from poor families, some were left fatherless early in youth, and the Depression was hard on everyone. The women survived however they could, and the bandits they latched onto were more exciting than any of their other meager options. They rented apartments for their men, hid guns and money, provided alibis. The prominent "molls" in this study are Billie Frechette, Pat Cherrington, Mary Kinder, Bessie Skinner (aka Beth Green), among others.

Billie Frechette is the main character here. We learn of her early life, being shuttled to government "Indian schools," where she retained pride in her Menominee heritage despite the curriculum, and how she didn't really fit into reservation life (with her "wild girl" rep established early on). Nor was city life kind to her, as she got by with a series of low-rent jobs and lowlife men. Before and after she knew his true identity, Billie thought Dillinger a charming guy, and while his ample spending money was quite attractive, he also took her dancing and never got drunk -- certainly an improvement over all the other men she knew.

Poulsen clearly shows empathy for her subjects, which may have affected the questions she chose NOT to ask of her research. For example, in the first chapter she compiles hints and circumstantial evidence (such as the prevalence of syphillis among the Menominees in the '20s) that suggest Billie may have been so afflicted.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Gusfield on October 16, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ellen Poulsen has brought us one of the most fascinating views of the Depression era outlaws ever written. This is the impeccably researched story of the women of the Dillinger gang, the entire other half of the short but historically explosive epic. Poulsen, who is a scholar and a wonderful writer, has produced a completely new insight into the men of the infamous bank-robbing gang through the women who traveled with them in the bloody months in the Midwest when machine guns and automobiles stole the headlines and captivated Americans everywhere. For fifteen years, Poulsen successfully tracked the harried lives of Dillinger's enigmatic gal, Evelyn "Billy" Frechett, Harry Pierpont's Mary Kinder, Russel Clark's Opal Long, and her sister, Patricia Cherrington.
Poulsen tirelessly tracked down and interviewed anyone who could shed illumination on these women, including sources that have now disappeared forever. What she has been able to reconstruct are the emotions, that human variable that fleshes out the mysterious machinations of the boldest criminals of the twentieth century. Poulsen nearly accounts for every day of their lives, with details heretofore undiscovered by the host of Dillinger gangsterologists who have authored some excellent books.
Through the women, you will never get closer to John Dillinger and his men. They were the mirrors that complete the story. Stoic, loyal, and tough as bullets, they loved, traveled, nursed and nurtured their men, disdaining authority and keeping to the code of discretion that earned them the newspaper title of "Molls.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By M. Koch on September 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
I must say that in all the recent books about gangsters and their molls from the 1930s, this book is one of the best ever, period! Full of new information on the Dillinger gang and Ma Barker and her brood of killers. Also, many photographs, which have never before been published. If you don't purchase this one, you are missing out on an important part of researching any gangster from this time period, which will include the woman who ran with these bandits.
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