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The “Dust Bowl” of the early 1930s spawned the era of the Mid-West bank robbers. Gangs led by Bonnie & Clyde, John Dillinger, “Pretty Boy” Floyd, and “Baby Face” Nelson became the stuff of American legend. None of them was spectacularly successful at bank robbing and all of them came to bad ends, eventually being shot down by the law. They all, however, caught the public imagination and were the anti-hero’s of their day. This was the era of the Great Depression where the banks were perceived of being greedy and heartless despoilers, grinding the common people down for their own profit. The “Dust Bowl” bank robbers personified the anti-hero who gave the banks a taste of their own medicine and the public could not get enough of it. When Bonnie & Clyde shot it out with the law and John Dillinger broke out of jail, the public followed their every move with the greatest of interest, as many of them would have secretly have liked to have done the same thing, had they the nerve for it. As it was, they glamorized these bandits and made them bigger than life, because that’s what the public wanted to believe about them. Painting the town red every night at the best restaurants and nightclubs, always on the arm of beautiful women, leading a life of danger and excitement at every turn, and engaging in machine-gun fights with the law “at the drop of a hat” was the life people dreamed these bandits led.

Dillinger has been remembered as one of the most charismatic and successful of the “Dust Bowl” era bank robbers. He appears to have been a genuinely a nice guy, who was polite to women, sympathetic to the struggles of the common man, and only killed when he had to. He was not a tough talking, kill-crazy gangster but was a born leader to those like “Baby Face” Nelson, who were.

Dillinger’s bank robberies were well planned and usually well executed. He knew how to rob the big banks and put together a gang of extremely professional bank robbers. And although the Dillinger gang was able to make off with some decent money, when it was divided up between all the members of the gang, each man’s share did not amount to all that much. Dillinger, however, of all the “Dust Bowl” era bank robbers, did come the closest to living the dream. His 3 girlfriends were strikingly pretty and loyal; he painted the town red whenever he could, going to the best restaurants and nightclubs; and stayed in the best places he was able to under the circumstances of the time.

As in Chicago, with Al Capone, public outrage finally boiled over and the FBI was finally empowered with the jurisdictional tools it had long been withheld from them. This spelled the end of Dillinger and the other “Dust Bowl” era bank robbers, for now the FBI had the authority and means to run them down and when they did they were usually shot down without being given a chance to surrender on orders from J. Edgar Hoover. What this despicable act in violation of the law did was to make martyrs out of the “Dust Bowl” era bank robbers and enshrine them in a nostalgic myth that they usually did not deserve. It virtually ensured that they were remembered as counter-culture anti-heroes who battled greedy banks and corrupt police forces, both of which had oppressed the country’s normal working man. So read this book and join the Dillinger gang in a ride you will not soon forget and discover why he is known as the greatest “Dust Bowl” era bank-robber of them all.

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