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3.81  ·  Rating details ·  9,031 ratings  ·  1,057 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, 334 pages
Published September 25th 2012 by Hachette Books (first published 2012)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,031 ratings  ·  1,057 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Sep 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gangsters
”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
J.L.   Sutton
Nov 28, 2016 rated it liked it
The novel begins with Sutton’s release from Attica and nostalgically follows this notorious bank robber’s career through flashbacks. Though I’m not related, I’d heard of “Slick Willie” “The Actor” Sutton most of my life. Moehringer’s account makes it clear just how famous Sutton was and why he’d earned a place in the folklore of bank robbers. I don’t think the novel stretches any of the previous interpretations of Sutton’s life, but it was an easy and fun read.
Aug 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
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
Richard Sutton
Oct 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is amazing! You keep thinking about it even after you stop reading it. The ending is such a shock and makes you rethink the entire book! Absolutely adored this book.
Mar 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Nita Kohli
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Sutton by J.R. Moehringer is a work of fiction but the protagonist, Willie Sutton actually existed. Willie Sutton or William Francis Sutton, Jr. was a prolific American bank robber who during his forty-year criminal career stole an estimated $2 million, and spent more than half of his adult life in prison and escaped three times.


He robbed banks in different disguises and got the nickname "Willie the Actor". He also gained another nickname "Slick Willie" and to know the story behind this name yo
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
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites-2017
Such a great read!! I loved this one. I would not have come across it if it wasn't for my book club. It was such an interesting character sketch of a real criminal, Will Sutton. The author did a great job in scene setting and getting you immediately engrossed into the story. I loved the dual timelines, it was presented in such an interesting and effective way. I found myself caring for the MC despite his criminal life and the ending was fantastic.
Book Concierge
Book on CD narrated by Dylan Baker

Everyone knows the Willie Sutton quote; asked why he robbed banks, Sutton purportedly said, “That’s where the money was.” Of course, this was later questioned, but it has remained part of the Sutton lore. In this historical fiction novel, Moehringer tries to explain why Willie robbed all those banks. In a brief author’s note Moehringer relates that after spending half his life in prison, Sutton was released from Attica on Christmas Eve 1969. He spent the entire
JoAnne Pulcino
Nov 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing

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
Rosalyn Steele
Sep 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"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
Jan 21, 2013 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennifer Rayment
Nov 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: want-to-buy
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
Oct 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-reads
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
Mar 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I give very few books a five star rating. Three stars - I liked it. Four stars - I loved it. Five stars - it's either a classic worth reading again or worthy of being a classic. This was one of those books. Well done and so much more than I thought it would be.
Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Makes ya want to go rob a bank! JK! Why can’t bank robbers just stop at one or two?? Jeez! Such greed. They’re like politicians! Lol Anyway, I picked this book up at a used bookstore because of the title, Sutton (maiden name. Kinfolk? Hmmm).... I enjoyed the story line Moehringer wrote to go with the infamous bank robber, Willie Sutton. Very entertaining. Try it! It’ll make ya want to go rob a bank!
Oct 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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
Jan 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Willie Sutton was the ultimate gentleman bank robber. Although he carried a gun he used it as a prop to convince those he was robbing to do as they were told. With his costumes, his charm and professionalism, he almost made bank robbing seem like a legitimate career. I couldn't help but like him. I'm not the only one; cops and criminals respected him, banks had good reason to fear his intelligence and diligence. Prisons had a hard time holding on to him, he successfully broke out of prison three ...more
Jun 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Connie G
Feb 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
The bank robber and jewel thief, Willie Sutton, is released from prison, pardoned on Christmas Eve 1969. Governor Rockefeller, a former banker, needs the Irish vote, and Sutton is a folk hero in the Irish community that doesn't trust banks. In return for an exclusive interview, a newspaper will fly him to Manhattan and pay for a hotel. On Christmas Day, Sutton meets with a reporter and a photographer and insists on taking them around New York City, visiting the spots that held special significan ...more
Steve Piacente
Dec 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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Play Book Tag: Sutton / J R Moerhinger - 3*** 1 10 Dec 16, 2018 01:37PM  

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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.

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