Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Rise and Fall of the Dillinger Gang by Jeffery S. King

Copyright: 2006
Publisher: Turner Publishing Group
Genre: Non-fiction
Pages: 238
Challenges: None-Fiction 5
New-to-me author? yes

Simple Description
I apologize in advance for my description that follows. Due to the nature of the book I found it a bit hard to do the simple description. This is a non-fiction book regarding the Dillinger Gang. The thing that peeked my interest regarding this specific book is that it gives information on all of the members of both Dillinger gangs and not just on Dillinger himself. The introduction gives us some background on the DOI (later the FBI) and how it got started as well as what was going on with crime in the 20's and 30's. Then we move on and get a background on each of the major members of the two gangs. The next step is moving in to the two gangs. The banks they robbed and how they did it, their escapes, what they did in-between the bank robberies, etc. The book finally wraps up with what the outcome was for each member – either how they were captured or killed. The book also gives some info on the women of the gang (wives and/or girlfriends) and other people who helped them. Oh..and the author also gives info on what the police/DOI were doing to try and catch the criminals.

Now what you really want to know…my thoughts:
Ok, so most of you know that I rarely read a non-fiction book, even though I always want to read more. So I'm going to say that I had a hard time getting through this one, but know that I have no idea of it's the book, me, or just a combination of the two. Did I find it interesting? Yes – I really did. However, I had a hard time reading it. There were a ton of names and dates and I kept getting confused. Now though..I did say that I found it interesting. I'm very glad I read it. It was just amazing to me that the gangsters would sometimes rob more than 1 bank in a day. It amazed me that it's the depression and they were able to steal as much money as they did! Let's also not forget that they were walking around in broad day light, going to movies, eating out, etc. They would even go into police stations and inquire about people and not be recognized! On that same note, they also robbed several police stations. I don't know how that could happen now a days, but it's pretty funny that they did it so often and got away with it. I also found it interesting that they kept crashing cars too. They would drive them into ditches, hit trees, hit other cars, etc. I just found that interesting, made it sound like they really didn't know how to drive very well.

Keeping in mind that it was the early 30's, I found it interesting that many of the women were single and living with these men. I guess it's just how we are brought up, always told that stuff like that didn't happen back then and so on. So whether this was more common than I thought it was or whether I need to think about the type of people these are (gangsters) I don't know, but it's interesting.

I think what I found so interesting was seeing how much they got away with before they were caught. Yeah..they were eventually caught but man it took years. And it's not like they were in hiding that whole time, nope, they were still robbing banks!

I had some of my family over on Sunday for a pool party (but it rained instead..boohoo) and while I was cleaning up the kitchen after we had dinner I told my Grandpa I was reading a book on the Dillinger gang and asked if he remembered them. (I live in St. Louis and my Grandparents have always lived here too). My Grandpa remembered! He was around 10/11 at the time and he remembers hearing about them. He was also able to tell me names of several of the gangsters that I read about. How cool is that! Then I started talking to him about all the stuff that I was just amazed about and I'm so glad I did. Because I grew up in a more recent time (most of you would still consider me a youngster even though I feel old) I'm used to having a police force that has the technology and smarts to catch people. I'm also used the media showing pictures of criminals and hearing about it on the news and cnn, etc. So as I'm talking to my Grandpa about some of the stuff that I was amazed about, he reminded me about how things were different then. He said that once he got outside of the STL city limits, most people didn't have power. They didn't have as good of phone systems and the communication technology that we have. He also said that he didn't think the police were that smart and then saved himself by saying that they didn't have the scientific discoveries and technology that they have now. Haha! I thought that was pretty funny. We also talked about how I found it funny they were driving around with machine guns while most criminals these days have hand guns etc. So basically, talking to my Grandpa about it actually made me enjoy the book even more. It was fun to talk about the differences between then and now and also about the gangsters and what they were doing.

So overall – do I recommend the book? Yes. But I give you warning that it might be slow to get through and hard to get through. But even saying that, I think it's well worth the read. For me it was interesting to read about gangsters who are currently gaining some popularity due to the move Public Enemies (which by the way it was interested to read where the title came from).

Oh – and there are some pictures. I loved looking at the pictures!

Have you reviewed this book on your blog? Leave me a comment to let me know and I'll link it below.
Sorry, no linked reviews yet.

Happy Reading and thanks for stopping by……Kris


bermudaonion said...

After seeing the movie Public Enemies, I want to read more about John Dillinger, so I might give this a try.

Kris said...

Bermudaonion - I haven't seen the movie yet - but now I want to see it even more.

Lover of Books said...

This one sounds interesting! I'll have to check it out but after this one I might need a break from non-fiction for awhile.

Beth F said...

Sounds really interesting. I love nonfiction! And how cool that you could talk about it with your grandfather.

Kris said...

Lover of Books - hope you enjoy it!

Beth - This is the first true crime book I have read, even though I've always planned on reading others. haha! So that could be one reason it was harder for me to get through too. I did love talking to my Grandpa about it..really put it all in perspective for me.

BookAddict said...

This sounds interesting, Kris. I have always been into 1930's history. And I am anxious to see Public Enemies which I am sure will fuel my fire to learn more!

Literary Feline said...

I was very excited to come across your review of this, Kris, having just seen Public Enemies not too long ago.

And how great that you were able to talk to your grandfather about what it was like during the '30's! It really must have grounded the book a bit more for you--at least I imagine it would for me. Make it all the more real.

Kris said...

BookAddict - I bet you would like this one then. Haven't you also read true crime before (or am I thinking of somebody else)? If so...then the style shouldn't bother you either.

Literary Feline - it really did help -talking to my Grandpa. In my head, as I was reading, I just couldn't understand how they could get away with so many robberies! But talking to my Grandpa about what was different etc back then..it really did help me understand it better.