Jeff Guinn, bestselling author of the three books in 'The Christmas Chronicles,' is an award-winning journalist and writer
Journalist Guinn (Our Land Before We Die), in this intensely readable account, deromanticizes two of America's most notorious outlaws (they were "never... particularly competent crooks") without undermining the mystique of the Depression-era gunslingers. Clyde Barrow, a scrawny kid in poverty-stricken West Dallasin the late 1920s, stole chickens before moving on to cars, following in the footsteps of his older brother, Buck. In 1930, he met 19-year-old Bonnie Parker, and during the next four years Clyde, Bonnie and the ever-revolving members of the Barrow Gang robbed banks and armories all over the South, murdering at least seven people. Bonnie, who fancied herself a poet, wrote, "Some day they'll go down together," and they did, in a Louisiana ambush led by famed ex-Texas Ranger Frank Hamer. With the brisk pacing of a novel, Guinn's richly detailed history will leave readers breathless until the final hail of bullets. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Mar.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Who hasn't heard of Bonnie and Clyde Barrow? The story of their murderous crime spree during the Great Depression has been told numerous times in both print and film. These new books provide lengthy, detailed descriptions of their many crimes, as well as comprehensive reviews of their backgrounds. Schneider (Brutal Journey), in particular, emphasizes the social climate of the era, as encountered especially by Clyde-oddly, the book is composed in the second person, as addressed empathetically to Clyde himself, leading the author into language that is impressionistic and somewhat disconcerting to encounter in sourced nonfiction. Although Schneider does not justify the criminal lives of the Barrows, his aim may be to show that their story is relevant today, when members of modern street gangs sometimes view a life of crime as their best way out of poverty. Relying on unpublished manuscripts and testimonies and written sources that he deems reliable, Guinn (former book editor, Fort Worth Star-Telegram; The Christmas Chronicles) reminds us that many stories of Bonnie and Clyde were exaggerated in the news, resulting in myths he challenges here. For example, they were very inept crooks. Although he does not provide as comprehensive a review of the era's social climate as Schneider, Guinn explains how celebrities reflect the needs of their particular time. In addition, his coverage of the law enforcement effort to bring down Bonnie and Clyde is more detailed than Schneider's. He accurately points out that the general public idolized Bonnie and Clyde because of their rebel image of sticking it to bankers and the law during a period of economic and social struggles. Ultimately, the public adoration changed when Bonnie and Clyde killed two motorcycle cops. Many readers may feel that they've already had enough of these two, but both books are fine additions to the literature, although Schneider's approach takes some getting used to. Guinn's is more strongly recommended if one must choose.-Tim Delaney, SUNY at Oswego Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.