Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34

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Penguin Press, 2005 - 592 pages
Bryan Burrough's grandfather once set up roadblocks in Alma, Arkansas, to capture Bonnie and Clyde. He didn't catch them. Burrough was suckled on stories of the crime wave, and now, after years of work, he succeeds where his grandfather failed, capturing the stories of Bonnie and Clyde, Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, and the rest of the FBI's nemeses, weaving them into a single enthralling account. For more than forty years, the great John Toland's Dillinger Days has stood as the only book that provides the entire big picture of this fabled moment in American history. But an extraordinary amount of new material has come to light during those forty years, a good deal of it unearthed by Burrough in the course of his own research, and Public Enemies reveals the extent to which Toland and others were fed the story the FBI wanted them to tell. The circles in which the 'public enemies' moved overlapped in countless fascinating ways, large and small, as Burrough details. The actual connections are one thing; but quite another is the sense of connectedness Hoover created in the American public's mind for his own purposes. Using the tools of an increasingly powerful mass media, Hoover waged an unprecedented propaganda campaign, working the press, creating 'America's Most Wanted' list, and marketing the mystique of the heroic 'G-men' that successfully obscured an appalling catalog of professional ineptitude. When the FBI gunned down John Dillinger outside a Chicago movie theater in the summer of 1934, Hoover's ascent to unchecked power was largely complete.

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PUBLIC ENEMIES: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34

User Review  - Kirkus

A rollicking, rat-a-tat ride with Clyde Barrow, Ma Barker, and a raft of inept (but a few first-rate) G-men.Though J. Edgar Hoover argued otherwise—and wrote gainsayers out of the official histories ... Read full review

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The Service Was Fast and The Item was as Describedat A Good Price and New . Read full review

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About the author (2005)

Bryan Burrough is a special correspondent at Vanity Fair and the author of three previous books. A former reporter for the Wall Street Journal, he is a three-time winner of the John Hancock Award for excellence in financial journalism. Burrough lives in Summit, New Jersey, with his wife and their two sons.

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