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John Dillinger: The Life and Death of America's First Celebrity Criminal

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  177 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
John Dillinger is an adrenaline-fueled narrative that reignites America's fascination with the suave and deadly desperado who became the FBI's first Public Enemy, whose story—until now—has been riddled with rumors and fiction. Dillinger and his bank-robbing gang cut a criminal swath never to be equaled, thrilling a nation in the throes of the Great Depression. When caught, ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published May 20th 2005 by Da Capo Press (first published April 18th 2004)
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Dane Batty
Sep 26, 2010 Dane Batty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is amazing because John Dillinger is now so documented that they literally know his every move almost everyday and every hour he was eluding the newly formed FBI. I didn't know JD was the reason the FBI was created.
This book is well structured, and I give it credit because even though there are so many books on JD this one read like it was new news.
Sep 16, 2016 Tommie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a good book. They should of talked about him a little more and little less of his family. The book was good I think people who like old gangsters should read this book they might find it really interesting. They should talk about how many people he killed if he killed any. If you look gangsters you should read it you might just love it!
Dec 11, 2012 Mallory rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: famous-people
I enjoyed the movie “Public Enemies” when I saw it and this biography really gives a full picture of John Dillinger’s life from start to finish. He was so charming that it’s easy to forget he wasn’t afraid to use his machine gun. His escapes are incredible, the fumbling and ineptitude of local law enforcement even more so. It’s amazing that the fledgling FBI survived its many missteps concerning Dillinger and his gangs and lasted past the ‘30s. Dillinger single-handedly wrecked the future career ...more
Jul 23, 2011 Kurt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. Matera is charmingly bold in his bias toward the gangsters and possibly unnecessarily harsh in his treatment of law enforcement officers, but the book still rings true. It is a thorough and detailed look at the life and misadventures of Dillinger, and if some sections are bogged down with lists of how much ammunition the gang was carrying in each car, the book on the whole moves with a determined and muscular pace. Matera's descriptions of gun battles and narrow escapes are be ...more
Fascinating, and written in a very readable style. Matera takes pains to show Dillinger as a man as well as the famous crook, telling us he often washed the dishes after supper while his girlfriend relaxed, and he had a special fondness for children. My favorite moment is when Dillinger’s trying to corral his girlfriend’s puppy, and two Chicago cops actually stop and help Dillinger catch the little critter.
Apr 10, 2014 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was my introduction to Dillinger, and I've fallen in love. It reads much like I imagine the bandit's life was like - a rollicking, rollercoaster ride with incredible highs and the inevitable lows. Dillinger especially comes across as a really nice guy, always up for a laugh, but sadly a sucker for a pretty face. Many laugh out loud moments, and when I finished the book I had to read more.
This is a solid entry into the Dillinger canon. Highly readable and informative, the author also has a clear bias towards Dillinger, which might rub some readers the wrong way. He also takes to calling Dillinger "The Jackrabbit" throughout the book, which I found really annoying, but that's really the only complaint I have.
Sep 20, 2009 Beth/Chuck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended by my Sister. Chronicles John's life & activities. I recognized most of the places where they either robbed the bank, were in Jail, or where they were hiding out at. Visited the Little Bohemia and saw the glass with bullet holes. It's only 20 miles from the Cottage.
Jan 10, 2010 Dana rated it liked it
It's a good non-fiction book, but didn't read as much like a story as I hoped. If you are interested in lots of details about John Dillinger, I recommend it, but if you are mostly a fiction reader, I don't.
Feb 13, 2013 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The movies about John Dillinger do the job of entertainment, but the movies don't do justice to the true story of the man in the 1920's and 30's toward his death. Very fun and interesting book. SPOILER ALERT: Too bad he shot a couple of people.
Joseph Bloyd
Mar 21, 2015 Joseph Bloyd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
He really was public enemy number one.

Very interesting look into the life and times and death of John Dillinger, the formation of the government Gmen and the rock hard times of a era many of us will never know.
A.J. Bryant
Aug 24, 2007 A.J. Bryant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: goodstuff
Reads like a movie, only it's real life. Highly entertaining. Captivating and exciting. You will learn a ton about life during the time and how much he influenced celebrity culture even today.
Susie Doneff
I love this book and found it very exciting. John Dillinger was very charismatic and did love women. He was also real witty and a jackrabbit.
Hannah Givens
A lot of information, particularly about the minor players, but it doesn't exactly flow quickly and it's difficult to work out exact facts and dates from the prose.
Jayne rated it it was amazing
Nov 07, 2014
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Scotty rated it really liked it
Nov 24, 2012
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Jennifer Schoeneick rated it it was ok
Feb 17, 2015
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