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

4.5 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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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.
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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: 9.7 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #667,332 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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This was a fantastic read! I have read so many books about "The Dillinger Gang",but this book fills in a lot of stuff that's missing from those books--The Human Element. These women who loved their ":boys" had a history too. This book tells that history. EXCELLENT research!!!
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Loved hearing from the "molls" and about their experiences of life on the run and in hiding with their men. Life circumstances were so different then and what these women did to survive or get a little excitement in their lives is amazing.
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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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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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