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Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde Paperback – Bargain Price, March 9, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 279 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Journalist Guinn (Our Land Before We Die), in this intensely readable account, deromanticizes two of America's most notorious outlaws (they were never... particularly competent crooks) without undermining the mystique of the Depression-era gunslingers. Clyde Barrow, a scrawny kid in poverty-stricken West Dallasin the late 1920s, stole chickens before moving on to cars, following in the footsteps of his older brother, Buck. In 1930, he met 19-year-old Bonnie Parker, and during the next four years Clyde, Bonnie and the ever-revolving members of the Barrow Gang robbed banks and armories all over the South, murdering at least seven people. Bonnie, who fancied herself a poet, wrote, Some day they'll go down together, and they did, in a Louisiana ambush led by famed ex–Texas Ranger Frank Hamer. With the brisk pacing of a novel, Guinn's richly detailed history will leave readers breathless until the final hail of bullets. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Bookmarks Magazine

All those who read Guinn's account of Bonnie and Clyde were impressed by the unprecedented level of detail he brings to the story. But a few seemed to think that all of Guinn's data got in the way of the chase. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel admitted that the level of detail posed the book's "only problem," while acknowledging that "the legend still stands under its own power." Indeed, reviewers were generally pleased by Guinn's ability to add new layers to Bonnie and Clyde's brief, hardscrabble lives and to shed new light on their impulses without weighing them down. Reviewers were particularly interested in the idea of the duo as heroes of the Great Depression, with obvious anxiety that that era might not seem so distant these days. Yes, reviewers are prone to provide enthusiastic reviews for a newspaper's books editor; yet Go Down Together is still a strong book.
Copyright 2009 Bookmarks Publishing LLC --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 2.7.2010 edition (March 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416557075
  • ASIN: B004KAB45G
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (279 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,595,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael A. Coluccio on May 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Even though I've always been interested in U.S. crime, especially during the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression, for some reason I've never had more than a passing interest in Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Simply because so much material has been published about this murderous duo, however, I have read a number of books about them. I can state in all honesty that "Go Down Together" has to be the single most in-depth study of these two outlaws written to date. Every crime attributed to this pair is closely examined, evaluated and supported by historical data - official police and/or FBI files, interviews, newspaper clippings, and manuscripts (some of which were unpublished) of criminal associates and family members. This is an extremely accurate, objective narrative of two youths from the wrong side of the tracks who blasted their way into infamy during the early Thirties. Again, I'm not a Bonnie and Clyde buff, but if you are, this book is definitely something you will want to read.
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Format: Hardcover
This is unquestionably the best-researched book on Bonnie and Clyde, especially since the author got access to 2 unpublished manuscripts by Bonnie's mother and sister. All you have to do is look at the notes in back to see all the research the author did. . . but more than that, it's a great story that grabs you a few pages in and doesn't let you go. It's VERY different from the movie, which was entertaining but had very little to do with the real story. The truth is even more fascinating. I had no idea that Clyde had been raped in jail, and his attacker was the first man he killed . . . or that Bonnie was a smart student who won writing contests in school. But they both were from a filthy West Dallas slum, and just like today, it's almost impossible to escape from your fate when the cards are stacked against you from the git-go. But they really did love each other, and in the last few chapters, when they're just barely evading the authorities and all shot up, you can't help but feel sympathy for these young killers. I know you shouldn't, but Guinn is such a good writer that you do. I loved this book.
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Format: Hardcover
I have no idea of how I stumbled across "Go Down Together", but I am certainly glad I did. While I enjoy mysteries and police procedurals, I don't consider myself to be a crime buff. My experience with Bonnie and Clyde was limited largely to the classic 1967 movie and bits and pieces that I had acquired here and there.

Guinn is very serious about his subjects, Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. He fills 82 pages with notes, bibliography and acknowledgments. It was his good fortune that he secured access to two previously unpublished manuscripts by family members. Guinn acknowledges that the historical record of the infamous pair is incomplete and cluttered with lies, exaggerations, questionable recollections and much else that isn't true.

Clyde and Bonnie - the way the pair was known until the movie - were children of poverty. Though most impoverished kids made it out of their West Dallas slum neighborhood without robbing a corner grocery or killing someone, Clyde Barrow didn't. Petty thefts and stealing cars became a way of life for the poor boy and he was packed off to prison.

Texas wasn't a congenial state to the poor in the 1930s. (What state was?) The agricultural markets had collapsed followed by the financial markets and the economy as a whole. Social mobility wasn't what it is today: back then, if you were born poor, you generally stayed poor. Texas prisons were harsh environments and young Clyde Barrow was assigned to Eastham, a farm run from the notorious Huntsville prison. There he was continually raped by another prisoner. Clyde demonstrated his outlook on life by murdering the perpetrator.

Released from prison, Clyde put together a "gang" that was incredibly inept.
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Format: Hardcover
I've got a pretty fair library on 1930s crime and this ranks right at the top. There are two things that stand out. First, it gets the facts right, as much as it is humanly possible to do so. And with Bonnie and Clyde, that's a great service, since their story was mythologized and fictionalized from day one. Second, and more unusual, is that the book places Bonnie and Clyde in their specific social and historical context. It doesn't just tell their story against the general background of the 1930s in America, but delivers an up-close look at what it meant to be poor and uneducated in West Dallas, the grim slum (almost a shantytown) that they both lived in.

Guinn takes care not to excuse their crimes, but I think his reading of their story is persuasive -- that they were two people from a doomed underclass who were unable to accept the long years of misery and deprivation that would ordinarily have been their fate.

He also does a good job of placing them in the context of 1930s crime -- yes, like John Dillinger they (at least occasionally) robbed banks, but they were worlds apart. Dillinger had access to a world of sophisticated criminal contacts. Many of his robberies were set-up jobs in which the banks were in on the deal. He had access to hideouts in "safe" towns like St. Paul and Hot Springs, connections to serious organized crime, doctors who could be trusted, and a whole network of highly experienced and capable confederates.

Bonnie and Clyde were just two kids from the very wrong side of the tracks. They had large and loyal families, but other than that, they were pretty much on their own.
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