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. PUBLIC ENEMIES: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, – Bryan Burrough, Author. Penguin Press $ (p). PUBLIC ENEMIES. America’s Greatest Crime Wave. and the Birth of the FBI, By Bryan Burrough. Illustrated. pp. The Penguin.

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The author brags in his Note at the beginning of the book how no one prior to burrouvh had combined the cast of characters that he assembled in his telling of the story. Apr 21, Jason rated it liked it. By abouthowever, they had their act together and it did make a difference in reducing crime.

Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, by Bryan Burrough

In a narrow sense, the War on Crime was a great success. The best part about this book to me though is that Burrough is This is a gripping and fascinating look at the lives of the last romantic desperadoes of American history and cultural mythology.

A rich and colorful cast of characters parades through the pages. He lives bryaj Summit, New Jersey with his wife Marla and their two sons. It is a period that everyone knows of but few know anything about and his ability to bring both the players and the play they are in to vivid life really shines through in this book. Arguably this was as necessary in this sphere as it was in the other; certainly motorized travel had revolutionized the ability of criminals to commit a crime in one jurisdiction and flee to another–or across the country, for that matter–before anyone knew what had happened.

The 19th century was fading away and the fast moving motor bandits ,like Dillinger, were burrouh artifacts from the previous century. We still watch Oscar-award nominated and winning movies. This is grade A history — populist to be sure, but immensely readable and brilliantly enemiex together. A rare female voice, that of Doris Rogers, bhrrough all-seeing secretary at FBI headquarters, adds a much-needed note of humanity. He did not set out to provide a pulp-fiction account.


More than anything else, it was probably the Kansas City Massacre — a bloody incident in Junewhich left a pile of dead detectives and law enforcement officers — that touched off the war.

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

One likely reason that this is assuming it is true is because there are far too many characters in this story and they quickly became a jumbled mess in my head. I’ve actually been to the Biograph theater and seen the exact spot where John Dillinger was gunned down on July 22, O I am shocked at the overall high rating this book has on goodreads.

Jul 23, Kurt rated it it was amazing. The Depression era gave birth not only to Floyd but to a flurry of criminal gangs carrying out large numbers of bank robberies especially in the Midwest. The foibles of the FBI are laid bare here – not just bad luck but sheer incompetence and lack of creativity.

Ordinary people supported him because he stole from the banks, which were widely accused of exploiting the poor. These men were just not good people.

Burrough’s account is peppered with tales of missed opportunities, bad detective work, poor record-keeping and all-around sloppiness. He didn’t write and episode for Gangbusters. Although this book dispels myths surrounding the Puvlic it does the same for the FBI agents who task it was to catch them. For as strange as this sounds, I am fascinated by the culture of the Great Depression. Burrough shows what law enforcement is about.

Bryan Burrough

Aug 04, Kevin rated it really liked it. Edgar Hoover slipped into town late one night, put on one his best evening gowns and burnt some burroug illegal wire tap tapes on this spot as an offering to Bryna Kansas City Massacre occurred over 75 years ago, but you can still go to the renovated Union Station and see chips in the front of the building that were supposedly made by some of the bullets flying around that day.

There was even talk, with Franklin Roosevelt’s election, that the agency’s head, J.

Only the first of those is well-remembered these days, and that only as a Hollywood-ized glamorization of a couple whose story, not very well known before the Warren Beatty film, provided a nearly blank canvas for some ambitious screenwriters to paint an earlys story in lates colors.


The FBI part of the story began with them as clueless about how to operate in the field they were weak in understanding the use of guns enemues the campaign against the gangs began ; they were inept on the simplest elements of sleuthing including observation of suspects, how to surround “bad guys” so that they could not escape, an appalling lack of follow up on some terrific leads.

Over this mess Hoover presided, promoting his favourites and firing off furious memos when they screwed up. Enemkes a matter of fact, Bonnie and Clyde were practically unknown until the movie made legends of the two.

Burrough, brhan scribe behind Barbarians at the Gate and a special correspondent at Vanity Fair, is so thorough a reporter he even gets the titles of the pieces a Kansas City hotel lobby pianist plays as an FBI agent and an Oklahoma City oil man wait for word from a kidnapper. Dillinger and others were famous “Robin Hood” figures in the public imagination, but Burrough only gives the lame explanation of it being the Depression and all that. He has reported on a wide range of topics, including the events that led to the war in Iraq, the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, and the Anthony Pellicano case.

The advent of the automobile only added their criminal lifestyle, it also caught the attention of the fledgling FBI and in a span of two years, they would change American crime forever.

Public Enemies by Bryan Burrough | : Books

The Best Books of For a person fascinated beyan history this has some sort of a special meaning for me. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the true-crime of this era. Ultimately, the author seems to want to cover the war on crime in a scholarly fashion.

Fortunately, instead this book was the result. The raid was a “debacle.