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Pretty Boy: The Life and Times of Charles Arthur Floyd Paperback – June 6, 2011

4 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Delivering more than an outstanding biography of Public Enemy No. 1 during the 1930s, Wallis ( Route 66 ) offers exceptional social and regional history as well. Floyd was born in 1904 in northwest Georgia, then still recuperating from Sherman's march to the sea 40 years before. In 1911 his family moved to Oklahoma, where they hoped farming would be less arduous and more rewarding financially, which it was not; the Great Depression began for farmers at the end of WW I, a decade before it struck the rest of the country. A hard-working youth who picked cotton as a child, Charles turned away from a life of unending toil and no money to become "a social bandit," generously spreading funds stolen from banks among family, friends and even strangers. The clannish hill people of Oklahoma looked on him as a hero and hid him from law officers. Finally the FBI declared war on him and he was shot down in Ohio in 1934 while trying to get back to his adopted state, where between 20,000 and 40,000 people attended his funeral. Illustrations.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Floyd, alias "Pretty Boy," a name familiar to all Americans, was one of the notorious gangsters who roamed the United States in the 1920s and 1930s, committing bank robberies and being romanticized as Robin Hood-like figures. In reality, these "public enemies" were men and women who terrorized and killed many innocent people before coming to untimely ends. Wallis has written a very engaging biography of Floyd, attempting to separate fiction from fact. Floyd, a product of the rural Southwest, grew up like the Joads of The Grapes of Wrath , having to scramble to make a living. Instead of hard work, he chose a life of crime. This choice ultimately put Floyd on a collision course with the fledgling FBI, whose reputation was enhanced by designating and then eliminating "public enemies," including John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, and Floyd. Recommended where interest in true crime is high.
- Sandra K. Lindheimer, Middlesex Law Lib., Cambridge, Mass.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (June 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393338185
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393338188
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #947,570 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By JoeV VINE VOICE on August 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
Charles Arthur "Pretty Boy" Floyd was one of those Depression-era outlaws who flashed across the newspaper headlines, captured the public's imagination, became one of J. Edgar Hoover's Public Enemies, died in a shoot-out and is still remembered today - although separating Pretty Boy fact from legend is difficult - including how he came to be known as "Pretty Boy". Floyd was tagged with numerous bank robberies and murders - including the Kansas City Massacre - some of which he was responsible for, but many more he had nothing to do with.

Originally published in 1992 and now in reprint, Pretty Boy is still the most in-depth biography of Floyd out there. The first 150 pages of the book track Floyd's birth in northwestern Georgia and the Floyd family's move to Oklahoma. If 150 pages seems like a lot for this topic, that's because Charley is a minor character in this part of the narrative. Along with Floyd's family history, the reader follows Sherman's March during the Civil War, Native American history, the story of the James Gang and a primer on other mid-western outlaws including Henry Starr.

Charley, or "Choc" as he was known at the time due to his fondness for a by-product of moonshine, then re-enters the story as a young man. Tired of the farming life, full of wanderlust and in search of adventure, he took to the road and specifically Kansas City, a criminal haven, and became an outlaw. Floyd also got married, fathered a child and went to prison. But here again the author digresses - often - with stories of Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde, J. Edgar Hoover and many others.
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Format: Paperback
I became interested in "Pretty Boy Floyd" when I found out his mother was distantly related to my family and I was researching my family. He was raised 25 miles from where I live until his family moved to Oklahoma. There was mention of the town in the book and some of the mischief he got in to. The house they lived in still stands. I was able to use some of the information from the book to go in my family tree. The book was very well written and seemed to be accurate in the account given of his life. I felt like I had known him from the reading of this book and feel he was unjustly killed at the end. His mother was treated unfairly about the way the funeral took care of his body. The pictures in the book of his family in the younger days were very good pictures. I didn't especially care for the ones at the funeral home where he was more or less put on display. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the history and hardships that occurred during the early part of the century.I am sure I will read this book again. It was hard to put down when I read it the first time.
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This was an incredibly interesting book about one of the now-forgotten characters of American history. The author does a great job in portraying Depression era Oklahoma, and how outlaws such as Pretty Boy Floyd came to be. After reading this book, it is clear that Pretty Boy Floyd was a bandit who had more in common with figures such as Jesse and Frank James than contemporary gangsters such as Al Capone. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in this period of Americana. The only flaw in this book is the rather shallow characterization of Floyd himself. While not quite whitewashing Pretty Boy Floyd, the author quickly glosses over any negative characteristics while expounding on Floyd's positive traits such as his generosity and good nature. In all likelihood Floyd was a complex figure, and the book would have done greater service to his memory had it presented a more balanced view.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
OK, maybe exaggerating a little, at least Mayflower,,been so many pages back I forget.
What I'm trying to say is way to many pages, chapters on Civil War, Pretty Boy Floyd's relatives, Sherman's march to the Sea, etc.
It is well written stuff and interesting but I bought the book to read about Pretty Boy Floyd, it takes about 9 chapters to get to him..
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I bought this book both for the historical information about this era and to prove or disprove fables and rumors I'd heard most of my life. Where we live old timers were always saying their daddy worked with Charlie Floyd or their mama fed him lunch once. I found the book to be basically well-researched, especially the interviews with the Floyd family. I'm not sure even our oldsters knew Charley had LIVED among us, just that he passed through while robbing our banks! He supposedly camped some times but lots of fellas were doing that especially when housing during the oil boom was almost non-existent. I've heard all my life that Pretty Boy Floyd had family in Earlsboro but don't think I ever heard that it was his brother. And my mother-in-law's great uncle was in the bank at Meeker when who they thought was Floyd robbed it. According to this book it may have really been him. But I do have a couple "bones" to pick with the author. He misspelled the name of a local town (Conawa should be Konawa) and he says that police officers "shot down Wilbur Underhill in downtown Shawnee" which is not the facts. Underhill and his gang were shot up at his house, he escaped and made his way to a building downtown were he was eventually captured. I know this is fact as I used to walk by the house on my way to school and for a while you could still see the bullet holes. It's at least five miles from "downtown". This was either a slip up in the author's research or it could mean some of his other research is a little suspect. But the book is well-written, entertainlng and I like the way he weaves daily history into Floyd's story.
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