Sutton
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Sutton

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  5,497 ratings  ·  782 reviews
Willie Sutton was born in the squalid Irish slums of Brooklyn, in the first year of the twentieth century, and came of age at a time when banks were out of control. If they weren't failing outright, causing countless Americans to lose their jobs and homes, they were being propped up with emergency bailouts. Trapped in a cycle of panics, depressions and soaring unemployment...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 25th 2012 by Hyperion (first published 2012)
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Jeffrey Keeten
”Sutton is the first multigeneration bank robber in history, the first ever to build a lengthy career--it spans four decades. In his heyday Sutton was the face of American crime, one of a handful of men to make the leap from public enemy to folk hero. Smarter than Machine Gun Kelly, saner than Pretty Boy Floyd, more likable than Legs Diamond, more peaceable than Dutch Schultz, more romantic than Bonnie and Clyde, Sutton saw bank robbery as high art and went about it with an artist’s single-minde...more
Chelsey
The sound of men in cages — nothing can compare with it.

I read this line, within the first twenty pages of J.R. Moehringer’s Sutton, on the streetcar. I had been given the book by a colleague and had no real expectations. It was a book about a real life criminal, notorious for his bank robberies and ability to escape high-security prisons. But, like they say, love finds you when you least expect it. And, I can assure you, that is exactly how it happened.

First, to address my previous statement, I...more
Richard Sutton
I'm going to write the author an extended thank-you letter for this book. It has opened up and fleshed out a childhood question that has intrigued me since I was old enough to read. The author already established himself as one of my favorite writers with his memoir, The Tender Bar. Reading Sutton cemented this feeling for me. It is a deeply affecting, highly entertaining book.

Sutton reconstructs the story of folk-hero/bank robber Willie Sutton in a really creative way: after Sutton's release fr...more
MAP
Remember how I fussed and fumed over The Movement of Stars and how a completely fictional romance was shoehorned into a real person's life, presumably to make it more interesting? And how I complained that whenever the protagonist is a woman, it seems like there has to be a grand romantic sub-plot, but when the protagonists are men, it doesn't?

I take it back. I lied. Here is a book, about a man, written by a man, that does the EXACT SAME THING.

J.R. Moehringer got the idea for the novel while wan...more
Zirk
I read Moehringer's A Tender Bar after being impressed by the Agassi bio Open. I loved A Tender Bar. On the basis of that, I got hold of Sutton. I read two pages and raved to all who would listen. Moehringer is a great writer of sentences and paragraphs.

But perhaps there is good reason he hasn't attempted a novel before this - the structure of this book was a letdown.

Yes, it is a clever device to have Sutton drive around with the journos and retelling his past bit by bit. The problem is that th...more
Rosalyn Steele
Sutton is a beautifully written novel that seamlessly blends fact and fiction and sweeps across nearly sixty years of history. The characters aren't exactly moral, but are so well developed that you can't help but cheer for them. Even though Sutton is about a life in crime, it is a surprisingly romantic read. Willie, lover of literature, has the soul of a poet: 'Life's complicated, love isn't. If you need to think about it for one half second, you're not in love'. Much of what he has done in lif...more
JoAnne Pulcino
SUTTON

J. R. Moehringer

Having been a huge fan and thrilled with Mr. Moehringer’s first book which was nonfiction and titled, THE TENDER BAR. I anticipated an exceptional debut novel from Mr. Moehringer.

I certainly was not disappointed!

Mr. Moehringer is a masterful writer, a gifted story teller and a superb tour guide.

Willie “The Actor” Sutton may not be a name easily recognized today, but he became a folk hero for the oppressed Americans of the 20’s and 30’s fed up with the financial and banking...more
RNOCEAN
"Willie Sutton was born in the squalid Irish slums of Brooklyn, in the first year of the twentieth century, and came of age at a time when banks were out of control. If they weren't failing outright, causing countless Americans to lose their jobs and homes, they were being propped up with emergency bailouts. Trapped in a cycle of panics, depressions and soaring unemployment, Sutton saw only one way out, only one way to win the girl of his dreams.

So began the career of America's most successful b...more
AliceinWonderland
- Very good storytelling. I must admit I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would.
- Moehringer manages to create compelling characters and you do root for them, even though most of them are criminals.
- Writing style was pretty decent, but mostly short, fragmented sentences, but they move the prose along nicely.
- I did not like the ending, however...I felt it was a let down when the reader realizes that Sutton's love for Bess was delusional at best, and probably self-invented. I felt it made...more
Christine
Born on June 30, 1901 Willie “the Actor” Sutton was a notorious bank robber through the early part of the 1900’s. He died on November 02, 1980 after having spent more than half of his adult life in prison. He served time in several different penal institutions and managed dramatic escapes three times. Willie Sutton was a legend stealing more than $2 million during his dubious career. He became legendary mostly due to the fact that he never completed a robbery if a woman screamed or a baby cried...more
Kasa Cotugno
J R Mohringer has only written 3 books -- his own memoir, a biography of Andre Agassi, and now a fictionalized bio of a 20th center rascal, but he has in this short time become one of my favorite authors. His background as a journalist provides him a punchy enthusiastic style, and his talent for choosing intriguing subjects and fact finding for truth give even this work of fiction the stamp of originality and verisimilitude. Growing up in Brooklyn was tough for Willie Sutton, given that except f...more
Sarah
My Review: Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres when it’s done well— and Mr. Moehringer nailed it. Willie Sutton was one of America’s most notorious bank robbers in the 1920’s and this book brings his soul back to life in a creative, captivating way. More than anything else, I admire the way Mr. Moehringer portrayed Sutton as utterly human- robbing banks for love rather than greed; standing up to (and being beaten down by) a corrupt and broken government system; wrestling with the big...more
Matt
I loved this book. Sutton presents a winning and complex portrait of Depression/WWII-era bankrobber Willie Sutton and successfully probes the ideas of American myth-making and individual and cultural memory. The book deftly explores what happens when a man becomes a folk hero as well as "a legend in his own mind" and the relationship between the two: self-conception and public consumption. How much does one impact or shape the other.


Sutton is imperfect and I imagine that most qualms will center...more
Joe
This is a proposed life of Willie the Actor Sutton. Known for his bloodless tricky bank robberies. When he perfected his art he knew every employee and guard in a bank, where they lived and even their familiy members names. He showed up before opening in a costume i.e. mailman or policeman. Once the night guard opened the door,he was greeted with a 38 pistol and told that if he treid to be a hero his family , which Sutton knew by name, would be executed. the same applied to other bank emplyees...more
Linda
I've known about many of the "heroic" gangsters like John Dillinger (from my home state of Indiana; my grandmother often told my mother that she thinks they saw Dillinger driving past the park where they were one day), Capone, etc., etc. But I don't remember ever hearing about Willie Sutton. It's amazing that I didn't because I was alive and conscious at the time he was released and when he died. I can't imagine our local newspapers didn't mention either one. But, what the hey, I didn't.

So this...more
Rachel
I picked up this book because I'm a J.R. Moehringer fan, due to his moving memoir, "The Tender Bar," and Agassi's autobiography, which remains one of the best sports biographies I've ever read (Moehringer ghost-wrote the memoir, telling Agassi he didn't want credit on the book itself because it was Agassi's story). I was curious how he'd take to writing fiction, though this was more like a non-fiction novel, I suppose. In his introduction, he says that he essentially made up most of the story si...more
Alec
First things first: Sutton will be made into a movie. Of that there’s a 100% chance. In fact, I think part of the reason I finished this book so quickly was that I wanted to make that statement before I saw the “Sutton picture under way at Warner Bros!” story flash across my computer screen. It has all the qualities: an intriguing historical figure largely unknown to current generations (Willie Sutton), a charmingly gruff relationship between an old man (Sutton) and a young reporter; a powerful...more
Steve Piacente
Each of us has a map like the one infamous bank robber Willie Sutton presented to the reporter writing his life story in J.R. Moehringer’s “Sutton.”

The map is our history, a personal chart of the pivotal events that shaped our lives, and where they occurred. Usually we keep it locked away, sharing it perhaps during a nostalgic moment with a spouse or child.

Not Willie. To get his story, the reporter and photographer must drive to each New York location listed on Willie’s map. When they arrive, Wi...more
Barb
I found this to be an easy and enjoyable read. Willie Sutton the famous bank robber, jail breaker and folk hero is pardoned on Christmas Eve 1969. Upon his release from Attica, his lawyer has made arrangements for him to be interviewed on Christmas Day. Willie decides if the reporter wants his story he's going to have to listen to it the way Willie wants to tell it. He plots out all the key moments in his life on a map of New York City and insists they must be visited in chronological order. The...more
Krystal
I liked the flashback style utilized as Willie, the reporter, and the photographer follow his chronological map of memories through NY. It reminds me of raptly listening to my grandpa and dad talk about the gangster days, relating street corners and buildings in the city to the “old days” – showing me yellowed pictures and news articles. I don’t remember them mentioning Sutton; maybe our Chicago location influenced their choice of gangsters? The mini-history lesson adds to Sutton’s personal stor...more
Jennifer Rayment
The Good Stuff

Was completely enthralled with the story and with Wilie
Little hints throughout story grab you throughout the story and keeps you from wanting to put book down. Had a couple of late nights with this one - not to mention a couple of times I really didn't want to go back on the sales floor I was so engrossed
Makes you think about so many things - especially about nature vs nurture
How can you not love a bank robber who went out of his way not to kill people
Need to know more about S...more
Debbie Reschke Schug
The author wrote this book about a bank robber in the ‘20s as a reaction to his anger with the U.S. banking crisis of 2008. Moehringer first tried channeling his anger by writing a nonfiction book about the financial system, but realized quickly he was no expert and started thinking about the ‘20s and ‘30s when there was a similar crisis in this country and how so many people lost money due to it and bank robbers back then became a kind of hero.
So, with this in mind, I was excited about this bo...more
Laura
This is an interesting blend of historical fiction, fiction and what I call faction (fiction based on non-fiction). The true is that on Christmas Day, 1969, after his release from Attica, Willie Sutton spent the day with a newspaper reporter and photographer, taking them on a tour of his life. Based on that day, the author has written a supposal: what was Sutton thinking when he revisited sites (many of them long gone by 1969)?

Moehringer has posited a Sutton who was beat up by his brothers, who...more
Nicki Markus
When I started this book, the only thing I knew of Sutton was that his name was vaguely familiar. Now I feel I know him much better.

You can tell straightaway that a lot of research and love went into the writing of this story. Sutton really comes to life on the page as a lovable rogue and I loved the way the narrative jumped from past to present as Sutton remembered his life, telling his story to a reporter. It was a device that was well employed and really helps the reader identify with the cha...more
Paula
Absolutely the best book of the year for me, if not the last several years. From the moment I started, I could not stop listening to it. Fantastic story and writing and most enjoyable in the way the telling slowly unfolds. I was completely blown away by the unexpected ending - I sure didn't see it coming, but it was perfect for this particular work of fiction. Intrigue and heartbreak all rolled up into one phenomenal story. Kudos to Mr. Moehringer for making my year.
David Rusk
Before reading J.R. Moehringer's Sutton, I have to admit, I knew absolutely nothing about famed bank robber Willie Sutton, who career started in the 1920's through the 1950's with various time periods of jail time and prison breaks. Willie Sutton is in fact a real-life character, famous for being quoted as saying "Because that's where the money is" when asked why he robbed banks. For Sutton, Moehringer takes the legend of Sutton and weaves it as an enjoyable piece of historical fiction.

The book...more
Stacielynn
Since my family is from Brooklyn and I love historical settings, I picked up this book about the famous/infamous bank robber, Willie Sutton. I was glad that I did.

The book is written through the eyes of the reporter and photographer who accompany an elderly Willie as he retraces his life story following his release from Attica. I found the author did a good job of blending the past and the present into a compelling narrative. Clearly he had done his research. What was nice was that the facts flo...more
JP Parenti
This is a book so brilliantly conceived, perfectly paced and filled with sweeping emotions, there is only one man who could have written it. Moehringer. This author may in fact be the greatest writer, storyteller and wordsmith of our generation. You'll want to read it for the compelling story of Willy the Actor, the tragic hero of a generation. But mostly, you'll want to read it for a peek into the mind of J R, its author. He brings to life a true American thrill ride, filled with love, daring,...more
Mary
Willie Sutton, notorious bank robber, is unexpectedly released from prison on Christmas Eve 1969. The terms of his release include a day spent with a reporter and photographer, whose paper have obtained exclusive rights to Willie's story. With an annotated map of New York City, Willie leads the news team on a chronologically ordered journey of various places that were significant in his life.

Wilie's story is told in flashback format, broken up by the story's present tense interactions between Re...more
Dane Batty
Willie The Actor.
After writing a biography on a famous bank robber I realize the effort that goes into such a project. I can't imagine though what it's like researching for a project that is nearly 100 years old. This book is historical fiction, I knew it going in, but I paid close attention to how JR created the back story to the infamous Sutton. I did like how the author put himself right into the character, literally, and formed Willie's persona as if it were his own. I only know this because...more
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J.R. Moehringer is an American journalist and author. Born in New York City and raised in Manhasset, New York, he is a former national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times.

A 1986 graduate of Yale University, Moehringer began his journalism career as a news assistant at The New York Times.

He won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 2000.
More about J.R. Moehringer...
The Tender Bar Open The Best American Sports Writing 2013 Buzz Books 2012

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