John Dillinger: The Life and Death of America's First Celebrity Criminal

Overview


John Dillinger is an adrenaline-fueled narrative that reignites America's fascination with the suave and deadly desperado who became the FBI's first Public Enemy, whose story—until now—has been riddled with rumors and fiction. Dillinger and his bank-robbing gang cut a criminal swath never to be equaled, thrilling a nation in the throes of the Great Depression. When caught, Dillinger staged one of the most harrowing prison escapes imaginable—only to finally be betrayed by the infamous "Lady in Red." John ...
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Overview


John Dillinger is an adrenaline-fueled narrative that reignites America's fascination with the suave and deadly desperado who became the FBI's first Public Enemy, whose story—until now—has been riddled with rumors and fiction. Dillinger and his bank-robbing gang cut a criminal swath never to be equaled, thrilling a nation in the throes of the Great Depression. When caught, Dillinger staged one of the most harrowing prison escapes imaginable—only to finally be betrayed by the infamous "Lady in Red." John Dillinger brings to light bank robberies never before reported; detailed plans for major crimes that Dillinger nearly implemented; the revelation that the Lady in Red was actually a police plant; and the startling motives behind John Dillinger's execution by rogue FBI agents. With access to the thousands of sources collected in the world's foremost Dillinger archives—including dozens of photographs—New York Times bestselling author Matera describes every robbery, shoot-out, and prison escape as though he had choreographed them himself.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this overly detailed biography, true-crime veteran Matera (The FBI's Ten Most Wanted, etc.) painstakingly recounts every bullet fired by the legendary robber John Dillinger, his criminal cohorts and his law-enforcement adversaries. Starting with a car theft at the age of 20, the gangster-obsessed Dillinger rapidly descended into a busy career as a bank robber, working with such pros as Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd. In the 1930s, Americans avidly followed Dillinger's crime spree and spectacular escapes from custody. Some portrayed him as a Robin Hood, while others cynically suspected that he often worked in cahoots with the very financial institutions he victimized. The book's most sensational claim is that the famous theater-alley gunfight in which Dillinger died was actually an official hit intended to cover up police corruption. The rather rigid straightforward storytelling obscures Dillinger's personality, and the countless heists and running gun battles tend to merge into one another. The epilogue, however, puts the criminal's significance in context by demonstrating his role in the creation of the FBI and new police tactics for dealing with armed robbers. Students of crime as well as those interested in the public fascination with larger-than-life figures on the other side of the law will find this useful. Agent, Gene Brissie at James Peter Associates. (May 22) FYI: After eight years in prison, Dillinger was paroled on May 22, 1933, a date that marks the start of the most storied crime spree in U.S. history. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
There has long been a fascination with outlaws, going back to Jesse James (who might well lay claim to having been a celebrity criminal long before Dillinger) and of course more recently the ever popular gangsters of the 1930s. Today, this interest is perhaps stronger than ever, as demonstrated by the success of titles like Max Allan Collins's graphic novel Road to Perdition, later made into a popular movie. Therefore, one would expect this title by former journalist Matera (FBI's Ten Most Wanted) to be a popular item in library collections. And rightly so: Matera's book is written in a light, breezy style that casual readers will enjoy. There is some new substance as well, for Matera is the first writer to make extensive use of the archives of the Dillinger Museum in Nashville, IN, a treasure trove of oral history interviews and contemporary newspaper and police reports. The notes section seems a bit weak, but this is still highly recommend for public libraries and for those academic libraries where crime biographies are in demand. Charlie Cowling, Drake Memorial Lib., Brockport, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786715589
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2005
  • Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
  • Pages: 413
  • Sales rank: 376,725
  • Product dimensions: 5.62 (w) x 8.24 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Dary Matera is the author of thirteen books, including the New York Times bestseller Are You Lonesome Tonight?, Quitting the Mob (co-author), What’s In It For Me? (co-author), and The FBI’s Ten Most Wanted.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 23, 2009

    Very satisfied

    My hubby has had a long-time interest in the life of John Dillinger. Since (as an older adult) he has multiple health problems, I have difficulty finding things to keep him occupied. I ordered this book in an effort to stimulate his interest. I have to say that was an excellant choice. He started to read, and hardly put the book down until he had finished it; then he went back and re-read many parts. I haven't read the book myself (no interest in Dillinger) but give it rave reviews for keeping Hubby occupied.

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    Posted July 14, 2010

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