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

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

Bryan Burrough

Language: English

Pages: 640

ISBN: 0143035371

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In Public Enemies, bestselling author Bryan Burrough strips away the thick layer of myths put out by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI to tell the full story—for the first time—of the most spectacular crime wave in American history, the two-year battle between the young Hoover and the assortment of criminals who became national icons: John Dillinger, Machine Gun Kelly, Bonnie and Clyde, Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, and the Barkers. In an epic feat of storytelling and drawing on a remarkable amount of newly available material on all the major figures involved, Burrough reveals a web of interconnections within the vast American underworld and demonstrates how Hoover’s G-men overcame their early fumbles to secure the FBI’s rise to power.





















more luck with Smoot Schmid, the Dallas County sheriff. Schmid agreed that his two deputies, Bob Alcorn and Ted Hinton, would work with Hamer. The three men had several long talks, plotting strategy, then drove east together. An examination of Clyde’s wanderings showed his affinity for the triangle of country between Dallas, Joplin, and Shreveport, and after his initial research Hamer began contacting law-enforcement friends there, especially in East Texas, where Clyde had family. He first

a wild driver, the Hudson fishtailing across the dirt roads, and Backman asked him to slow down. He ignored her, starting in with comments about her “being scared” and asking if she was “comfortable.” In time Nelson became even more aggressive, telling Chase in front of Backman that he should leave her, that she would tire of him in six months and go home. According to a story Negri told a detective magazine in 1941, the ill will between Nelson and Backman came to a head at a roadside stop

leveled on him and hit him. Then we had to tear out of that place.” overcoat and drew his Thompson gun. “This is a holdup!” he shouted. “Everyone on the floor!” br In later years, Hoover became notorious for inserting into FBI files memoranda that tended to absolve himself of blame in controversial matters. The morning after speaking to Purvis, he wrote a memo to Pop Nathan that appears to be an early example of this:Last evening I had occasion to call Mr. Purvis at Chicago to inquire of him

turned and began firing at Officer Fitzgerald, who took cover behind a traffic sign. Furiously the gang began transferring items into the commandeered car. As they drove south, Karpis noticed the gas tank was nearly empty. At Ash-land Avenue they jumped out and stopped a second car, once again ordering its occupants out and transferring the bags and the guns. They drove in silence to a garage on the southwest side, shut the doors behind them, and emptied out the five money bags. It was then they

down State Street to buy new clothes. Dillinger bought several new blue suits and a brown one, and admonished the others not to buy anything too flashy, although he did spend $149 to buy Billie a new winter coat. Like generations of striving farm boys before him, Dillinger was a bit of a clothes horse, keeping his suits pressed and his hats blocked; Mary Kinder was impressed that he changed his underwear every day. When they weren’t shopping, the four could usually be found at a dentist’s office

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