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Baby Face Nelson: Portrait of a Public Enemy
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Baby Face Nelson: Portrait of a Public Enemy

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  27 ratings  ·  3 reviews
Lester Joseph Gillis -- better known to the public and press of the 1930s as Baby Face Nelson -- was one of a succession of public enemies beginning with John Dillinger and progressing to Bonnie and Clyde, Ma Barker, Machine Gun Kelly, and Pretty Boy Floyd. For decades their stories were largely myths, containing a combination of popular folklore and carefuly crafted FBI f ...more
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published June 1st 2002 by Cumberland House Publishing (first published April 2002)
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Of all the "Public Enemies"-era outlaws, Lester "Baby Face Nelson" Gillis tends to be portrayed as the most one-dimensional: a man short in stature and a huge temper, with a lust for blood and a raging Napoleonic complex that made him an irritant to associates and a danger to everyone else. Authors Steven Nickel and William Helmer, in their introduction, claim that this was an image propagated by the FBI and furthered by John Dillinger biographers who have used Baby Face as a counterpoint to mak ...more
Apart from several typos, grammatical errors and other things the editor should have found, this was a very illuminating look at Baby Face Nelson and his family, and, of course, his cohorts. I recently learned that my great-great aunt Helen was his wife, so I have some personal interest in the topic.

I am going to be reading more of these accounts. The era and the way things were back then, and the Depression, always interests me, and this book was pretty well written and held my interest well.
Doug Mcnair
A good book about the gangster era of the '30s. Though its general focus is on Nelson, it's really a book about the entire Dillinger gang and how they operated. We learn that the secret of their success was careful planning and casing banks, followed by extensive travel and laying low after robberies. The author doesn't go for the popular portrayal of Nelson as a psychopath but portrays him as a more complex personality. A good read for crime buffs and people interested in Depression-era America ...more
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