The Vendetta: Special Agent Melvin Purvis, John Dillinger, and Hoover's FBI in the Age of Gangsters

The Vendetta: Special Agent Melvin Purvis, John Dillinger, and Hoover's FBI in the Age of Gangsters

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by Alston Purvis
     
 

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In The Vendetta, author Alston Purvis recounts the story of his father, Melvin Purvis, the iconic G-man and public hero made famous by his remarkable sweep of the great Public Enemies of the American Depression—John Dillinger; Pretty Boy Floyd, and Baby Face Nelson. Purvis’s successes led FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover to grow increasingly jealous, to

Overview


In The Vendetta, author Alston Purvis recounts the story of his father, Melvin Purvis, the iconic G-man and public hero made famous by his remarkable sweep of the great Public Enemies of the American Depression—John Dillinger; Pretty Boy Floyd, and Baby Face Nelson. Purvis’s successes led FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover to grow increasingly jealous, to the point where he vowed to bring down Purvis. Hoover smeared Purvis’s reputation, and tried to erase his name from all records of the FBI's greatest triumphs. This book sets the record straight, and provides a grippingly authentic new telling of the gangster era, seen from the perspective of the pursuers.

Editorial Reviews

On the evening of July 22, 1934, Melvin Purvis secured his niche in history. On that hot, humid Chicago night, FBI agent Purvis and his men closed in on John Dillinger outside a downtown theater, ending the notorious criminal's life with a hail of gunfire. This folkloric event ensured Purvis's fame, but his new celebrity status might have sealed his professional doom. Once J. Edgar Hoover's golden boy, he fell into disfavor with the jealous FBI director. In The Vendetta, Purvis's only surviving son presents the previously untold story of his father's humiliation at Hoover's hands. A compelling read.
Booklist 9/15/05
"The details of how Purvis hunted America's Public Enemies are fascinating..Gripping reading for true-crime fans."
Publishers Weekly
Purvis's fascinating story of his father, once internationally famous for his role in the violent takedown of John Dillinger and now an obscure figure, limns a true American tragedy. The senior Purvis's meteoric rise to prominence at the FBI, just coming into its own, placed the genteel lawyer at the center of the war on crime that gripped the nation in the early 1930s. His enthusiasm and dedication caught the notice of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who promoted him repeatedly and gave him more and more serious responsibilities. But Hoover's pettiness and paranoia led him to turn on his protege, even reaching out decades after Purvis's departure from the Bureau to block him from other jobs. The book's impact is lessened somewhat by florid writing ("Something evil came to Wellsville in the dead of night"). Purvis (with People magazine writer Tresniowski) could have compensated for the existence of rival narratives such as Bryan Burrough's definitive Public Enemies by dwelling more on his own memories of his father, rather than giving details of manhunts for gangsters, but he succeeds in giving Melvin Purvis the accolades he deserves. Illus. not seen by PW. Agent, Ike Williams. (Oct. 4) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In the 1930s, Melvin Purvis was one of the best-known FBI agents-and most famous men-in the country, famous for his defeat of "Public Enemies" John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd, more famous, perhaps, than even J. Edgar Hoover. And therein lay the problem. As Purvis's fame grew, Hoover's response to him changed from affection and respect to unremitting enmity. Though Purvis was a hero in the eyes of millions, Hoover hounded him out of his job and then attempted to write Purvis out of FBI history. Here the author's son (design, Boston Univ.), with Tresniowski of People magazine, tells Purvis's own story, compiled from primary sources and interviews with those who knew him. The account of his FBI career is the most interesting, but the examples of Hoover's famous paranoia fascinate as well. While hardly an unbiased narrative, this exciting story rings true and serves to burnish the reputation of a true American hero. For all collections.-Deirdre Bray Root, Middletown P.L., OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781586487416
Publisher:
PublicAffairs
Publication date:
05/04/2009
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
833,968
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.20(d)

What People are saying about this

Tuscon Citizen
"This account, written by Purvis' son, is unflinching and sheds new light on the darker side of Hoover"
October 20, 2005

Meet the Author

Alston Purvis has appeared widely in the media, including the History Channel and A&E, to talk about his father. He is head of Boston University's design department.
Alex Tresniowski is a senior writer for People magazine specializing in politics, crime and current events. The author of five books, including an upcoming biography of boxer Billy Conn, he lives in New Jersey.

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Vendetta : Special Agent Melvin Purvis, John Dillinger, and Hoover's FBI in the Age of Gangsters 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Diane Morris More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book. I knew Melvin Purvis and his sons. It was a piece of my history. Having read the book, I admire and respect the service work Mr. Purvis gave so willingly to his country. Mr. Hoover, as history has reported, should not have had the respect of this nation. He apparently--as history reports--was not a man of honor. I would like to thank Mr. Purvis family for sharing the life of their father with our country.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago