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George Kelly, a flamboyant crook during the Depression era, was one of the reasons the federal government became involved in criminal investigation, hitherto largely a local task. The FBI reaped favorable publicity in the kidnapping case that ended Kelly's life on the lam in 1933--"Don't shoot, G-men," Kelly's purported plea when arrested, coined a phrase--but cut corners in its zeal, perhaps unsurprising in an era less punctilious about legal niceties. Author Hamilton dramatizes the central facts of the case in detail redolent of the period. The victim, Oklahoma City oil magnate Charles Urschel, was clapped into a lonely, windblown farmstead on the high Texas plain. Urschel was an unusually keen observer of his surroundings and captors, which he memorized while a friend chugged by steam train to Kansas City to deliver the ransom. Hamilton's account of the entire episode--three months from crime to sentence--certainly offers a contrast with the contemporary pace of justice. Entertainment for true-crime buffs. Gilbert Taylor
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"Hamilton's thorough research and electric narrative style illuminate George 'Machine Gun' Kelly's sensational criminal career and the untold tale of his subsequent incarceration. In telling Kelly's story, Hamilton also tells the story of his victim, Charles Urschel, and adds an important chapter to the history of kidnapping in the United States." Claire Potter, author of War on Crime: Bandits, G-Men, and the Politics of Mass Culture; "Hamilton's authoritative account of the 'Machine Gun' Kelly case offers a fascinating insight into the 'gangster era' of the early '30s and the operations of the FBI. His research is impeccable and his book a terrific read." Lee Grieveson, coeditor of Mob Culture: Essays on the American Gangster FilmSee all Editorial Reviews
Interesting book on the kidnaping and trials in Oklahoma City connected with the Urschel kidnaping. I became acquainted with some of the people involved many years after the... Read morePublished 22 months ago by S. Muckala
The telling of "Machine Gun Kelly's Last Stand" is at once fast-paced, eerie and suspenseful. Stanley Hamilton's eccentric characters are plucked from the pages of history to... Read morePublished on April 21, 2006 by Billie McCalley
Stanley Hamilton's account of the Urschel kidnapping is very good in this book. He has some new information on George "Machine Gun" Kelly, which has not be published previously. Read morePublished on October 20, 2005 by M. Koch