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Machine Gun Kelly's Last Stand Hardcover – June 23, 2003

4.6 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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."

"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."
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas (June 23, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700612475
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700612475
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,676,456 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having read many books on gangsters you come across some real turkeys but Stanley Hamilton's account of Machine Gun Kelly's crimes was very well written without the usual padding out that some writers tend to use.
It is a very informative account of the kidnapping and aftermath which kept me gripped until the end.
The book's ending was, for once, a surprise and I would recommend this title to readers who like True Crime to be based on facts and not the fiction.
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Format: Hardcover
Being a fan of old black and white gangster movies, I jumped at the chance to read this one. Hamiltons book reads like a novel and dispels a number of myths surrounding the kidnapping of oil magnate Charles Urschel, the major players in the crime and J. Edgar Hoovers fledgling FBI. Turns out that the image of Machine Gun Kelly portrayed by the FBI at that time was totally off the mark. And it appears that the brains behind the legend was none other than his wife Kathryn!! You will simply marvel at the story of the victim Charles Urschel and the determined way he approached his predicament. Equally insightful is the story of the FBI and how J. Edgar Hoover manipulated the press in order to prop up his agency. Cannot not say enough good things about this book. Highly enjoyable and highly recommended!!
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Format: Hardcover
This is a great introduction to the case that made J. Edgar Hoover's "G-men" (even though, contrary to FBI lore, as Hamilton points out, that nickname wasn't coined by George "Machine Gun" Kelly). While not an actual biography of Kelly--it does provide more background info on him than previous accounts--it is the most detailed account of the Urschel kidnapping to date. Somewhat revisionist and updated to follow the fates of the principals, it is both a great read and an excellent followup to E.E. Kirkpatrick's 1933 inside account "Crimes' Paradise".
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wrote my masters thesis on the Urschel kidnapping case and spent a year reading thousands of related books, articles, historic documents and public records. Hamilton's book was by far the most exhaustive and most accurate account. The few errors in the book are errors that actually exist in the public record (Kathryn Kelly's eyes were green, not hazel; her middle name was not Mae, and a few other minor facts.)

In addition to being accurate and complete, it was also well-written and interesting to read. It's novel-like qualities included excellent character development and conclusions about each player that helped "close" the story. If you want to know the Machine Gun Kelly story, this is the book to read.

BTW: A few interesting facts were not included in the book, such as: 1)the Urschel kidnapping trials were the first in U.S. history to be recorded on moving camera; 2) the Kelly trials were the ONLY federal criminal trial EVER to have news cameras in the courtroom; and 3)Kelly's accomplices were the first criminal suspects ever transported by airplane.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Stan Hamilton has written a great narrative history in which there are surprises, odd twists and unexpected heroes. It is a fine well-written book in which neither Kelly nor his foil, J. Edgar Hoover, are the most fascinating charcters' but rather that role is reserved for the smartest of victims, Charles Urchel, and the powerful, conniving Kathryn Kelly. I will not give this one away, but will tell you that this book delivers one first rate couple of evenings of reading which not only tells a strong story but gives an insight into the world of 1933 --gangsters and bootleg gin. You will love this book!!!!
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