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John Dillinger: The Life and Death of America's First Celebrity Criminal Paperback – May 10, 2005
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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From Publishers Weekly
In this overly detailed biography, true-crime veteran Matera (The FBI's Ten Most Wanted, etc.) painstakingly recounts every bullet fired by the legendary robber John Dillinger, his criminal cohorts and his law-enforcement adversaries. Starting with a car theft at the age of 20, the gangster-obsessed Dillinger rapidly descended into a busy career as a bank robber, working with such pros as Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd. In the 1930s, Americans avidly followed Dillinger's crime spree and spectacular escapes from custody. Some portrayed him as a Robin Hood, while others cynically suspected that he often worked in cahoots with the very financial institutions he victimized. The book's most sensational claim is that the famous theater-alley gunfight in which Dillinger died was actually an official hit intended to cover up police corruption. The rather rigid straightforward storytelling obscures Dillinger's personality, and the countless heists and running gun battles tend to merge into one another. The epilogue, however, puts the criminal's significance in context by demonstrating his role in the creation of the FBI and new police tactics for dealing with armed robbers. Students of crime as well as those interested in the public fascination with larger-than-life figures on the other side of the law will find this useful. FYI: After eight years in prison, Dillinger was paroled on May 22, 1933, a date that marks the start of the most storied crime spree in U.S. history.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
In this exciting, enjoyable, but rather curious book, Matera intends to debunk many of the myths surrounding Dillinger, but he seems just as determined to romanticize him while demonizing some of his pursuers. One of Matera's premises is, actually, wrong; Dillinger was certainly not our first celebrity criminal (does the name Jesse James ring a bell?). Still, as Matera recounts Dillinger's slow but steady progress from inept punk to daring bank robber, his narrative easily draws in the reader. There are bold robberies, unlikely escapes, and near misses--and, of course, the familiar selection of gun molls. Dillinger and other gang members are treated somewhat sympathetically, but some lawmen are tagged as "assassins," "hit men," or "terminators." There are lots of interesting tidbits here, and the blow-by-blow descriptions of the battles between Dillinger's gangs and lawmen are engrossing. Although obviously far from a work of scholarship, it is a fun slice of Americana. Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Definitely a book to read even if you know much about this period in American history.