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Public Enemies: The True Story of America's Greatest Crime Wave Paperback – 7 Jul 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; First Edition edition (7 July 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014101993X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141019932
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,254,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'A rollicking ride' Guardian 'Entrancing ... fascinating ... definitive ... a wild and amazing story' Washington Post 'Excellent true crime ... brims with vivid portraiture' New York Times 'This blockbuster movie of a volume ... crackles and pops with dialogue so outrageous that you suspect a dozen scriptwriters have worked on it, but every word is true' Spectator --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Bryan Burrough is the author of Dragonfly: Nasa and the Crisis Aboard Mir, Vendetta: American Express and the Smearing of Edmond Safra and (with John Helyar) Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco. He lives in New Jersey.

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It was a morning as bleak as the times. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By HuddyBolly on 10 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Contrary to the observations of the Johns, Skyline & Fitzpatrick above; I find the chronological sequencing of the story to be one of it's greatest strengths. (Albeit that I had the advantage of reading it straight through over a two day period whilst laid up in bed! Even though, concentration IS required )
The author rightfully credits those who have gone over the same ground before,but without the benefit of the now opened FBI records.
It transpires that he began where I did back in the 60's with John Toland's excellent 'Dillinger Days'(now once again available on Amazon).
Toland devoted individual chapters, in sequence,to each of the gangs.
But this method tends to obscure the fact that it was all happening over the same short period of time.
Burrough's chronological description of events shows the reality of how intertwined the gangs and their crime wave really were.
'Public Enemies' is extremely well written, with maps of the salient areas of the USA included to show how widespread the gangs roamed over the American landscape during those bloody two years.
Photographs of all the gang members, and many of their accomplices are included, but in the paperback edition these are thumbnail sized only. A 16 page selection of larger photographs is also included, showing photos of many of the events referred to, as covered by the voracious American news media of the day.
Hoover and his FBI come out of the story with very little credit, and their own,(finally) revealed records are generally reponsible for this. Little wonder then that they were suppressed for so long.

Another previously unmentioned aspect of the book is the wonderful sense of time and place; early 1930s America, that the author evokes. This is history at it's best.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By ChaplinFan on 29 April 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I borrowed this book from my local library, read it from cover to cover and it turned out to be one of those books I had to buy a copy of because I knew Id want to read it every year or two. Its an amazing book which clearly has been a labour of love and has been written with the help of a mass of research. It deals with all the well known criminals of that era (machine gun kelly, Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde, Baby Face Nelson etc etc) and it interweaves their storys as it progresses through that era detailing all their crimes, escapes from the law and it also paints a bigger picture of how the FBI had to be formed to combat the problem. Its such an addictive read, very enjoyable and the sort of book that evokes the atmosphere of the period in which its set. Its a factual book of course and not done in a silly narrative way...putting words into their mouths, turning it into a novel for example...the author was wise enough to see the tales of these people were fascinating enough and gives it to the reader straight.

Brilliant book, the finest with regards to this subject matter!

.....would like to add that the Johnny Depp movie PUBLIC ENEMIES is very loosely based on this book, they are like chalk and cheese, just used this fab books name really...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Asmodeous on 16 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A superbly researched book that covers key figures of the 1930's crime wave and the FBI's attempts to bring them to justice - the level of detail is both it's strength (at times you fveel you are there with the action - some of the sequences and action provides riveting reading)and it's weakness (put the book down for a couple of days and you forget who is who and what's happening - there is just so much going on and the story darts from Dillinger to Bonnie and Clyde to the Baker Gang to .... all in 'real' time, which means you need to concentrate)It is a great read ultimately and the author desreves high praise for what must surely be the most comprehensive telling of this period of American history.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mike D on 3 Feb. 2006
Format: Paperback
I'm just finishing work on a book about police corruption in early twentieth century New York, and right now Burroughs' book is the one I most wish I had written. He tells a familiar story - the book's about John Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd, Machine Gun Kelly, Alvin 'Creepy' Karpis and their demise at the hands of J. Edgar Hoover's FBI - but does so in superlative detail. Burroughs' most impressive achievement is to parse nearly a million pages of government files into a rollicking but reliable narrative: it's reputable history, but it achieves the elusive goal of making the reader feel like a participant in the story. And, astonishingly, the author gets through all 592 pages without once mentioning Hoover's fabled predilection for nylons and frocks.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Alan Butcher on 3 July 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is brilliant.With every page you want to know what happens next.Even if,like me,you already know what happened to John Dillinger and Bonnie and Clyde and the others,it keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Its about a short time in American history[1933 to 1936]in the depression years when gangsters were hailed as heroes against the greedy banks.
John Dillinger was like a Robin Hood figure whereas Baby Face Nelson and Clyde Barrow were just psychopaths in the same business.Great read and much better than Michael Manns movie of the same name.This is in your face stuff without givibng you the headaches from wayching a shaky camera shot.
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