Far better than the film and goes into so much detail on all the other characters ,rather than just mainly John Dillinger.The pace and excitement is impeccable and makes the perfect gift for any historical true crime book worm like my good self .The author makes reality more interesting than fiction and that is the highest compliment I can pay to any author ,with the high standard of some of today's fiction writers.The narrative drives the book along ,briskly and punchy with seat of your pants action at times too.
This book is SO GOOD I'm currently reading it for the third time, but forget the film of the same name with Johnny depp, it is not a patch on this book and only has a very small portion of the amount of criminals and other characters that are in the book, this book takes the reader through the criminal careers of Bonnie and Clyde, the Barker brothers and Alvin Karpis and tells the truth about ma Barker, pretty boy Floyd, machine gun Kelly, baby face Nelson and John dillinger, all of their known associates and hide outs and known activities both criminal and personal from eyewitness accounts, Brian burrough did his research extremely well, an absolutely fascinating book, you can't beat this book for true crime off the 1930's, I recommend it to ANYBODY interested in this era, once I've finished it this time I'm going to keep it on my kindle, ready to read for the fourth time, I love this book thank you Mr burrough for such GREAT entertainment, I cannot praise you enough sir, fantastic work.
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. To anyone with an interest in this subject, I would recommend this book as the best available.
I also recommend Toland's 'Dillinger Days'. Toland was an eminent historian and writer. His work covered mainly US political and military history,and 'Dillinger Days'was written with the same attention to detail, but in 1963, without the benefit of the FBI files. Still a great book. I doubt that the film of 'Public Enemies', even with Depp et al will be convincing. The book is the real deal.
After watching a film based on the book, I decided that it would be interesting to buy a copy of Public Enemies. I was aware of all of the main characters, apart from the Barker-Carpis gang, and I found the book a very enjoyable read. It can be a little confusing in parts, due to the many names which crop up, but that is only a very minor niggle. All of these people would have been familiar names to my parents generation, but it is possible that younger readers will be totally unaware of Hoover and his war on crime. If, like me, you saw the film, you will like the book. I found that there was too much mumbling from some of the actors, you do not get that with the book ! My copy was an excellent second hand hard back, and for a 1p plus postage, you cannot go wrong, it would make a good choice to take on holiday.
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.
A very good history of the period in the 1930s when the FBI was born, cutting their teeth by chasing gangs of ruthless bank robbers. Many of those robbers have subsequently been given undeserved glamorous reputations, particularly by Hollywood. This book shows them in their true light, together with the people they associated with. It also tells of staggering incompetence by some FBI agents, especially by Melvin Purvis, who is portrayed quite differently in the film of the same name, and the depth of corruption in other law enforcement agencies,
The author has clearly put an awful lot of time and effort into creating this book. It is not an easy book to read as there are lots of times / dates / associated characters to remember, but the detail is outstanding. The author gives you his opinion but also allows you to make your own mind up where proof is not absolute. I only recently became interested in this period of history after a trip to Chicago which involved a visit to the Biograph theatre where John Dillinger was shot down by the FBI. If you have an interest in this subject, then this is the book to buy. It is not just about the infamous criminals of the era, but gives a detailed insight into the formation of the FBI. It really is a great piece of work and at over 600 pages is well worth the price.
This is,without doubt, one of the best researched and written books about the depression era criminals I have read. Not only is it very well written, it is also very readable and very enjoyable. I love the film, but the book it so much better as it covers a whole lot more and in a lot more detail. If you have a long standing interest in Dillinger, Karpis and the depression era crime wave and how the " war on crime" started the FBI and J Edgar Hoover's long term influence, this is a great book. If you just want to know more about the characters and players in the film " Public Enemies" then this is just a "must read" book. Couldn't recommend it highly enough.