That makes it nine 5-star review in nine total reviews.
Bruno Takes Dead Aim on Bonnie and Clyde
By Silver Screen Videos
on April 17, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
NOTE: The author graciously provided me with a copy of this book and requested that I write a review.
Nobody knows the seamy underside of the mean streets of New York like Joe Bruno, but in his latest book, he leaves his comfort zone and heads to the great American midwest, where the criminals were just as nasty but they had a lot more room in which to run and hide than they had in the Big Apple. In his latest book, “Bonnie Parker,” Bruno takes a look at the legendary bank robber and her boyfriend, the equally infamous Clyde Barrow. Maybe the outdoor air agrees with Joe, because “Bonnie” is the best one of his books I’ve read yet.
“Bonnie Parker” tells the story of Bonnie and Clyde from their childhood days through the various crimes that the teenage Clyde got himself involved in (and occasionally did time for) to his teaming up with Bonnie, his brother Buck and various others who came and went as part of what’s known as the Barrow Gang. All of Joe Bruno’s books are meticulously, painstakingly researched, and “Bonnie” is no exception. In one respect, Joe is fortunate here. While he’s reported on some little known unsavory characters in the past, he’s often been handicapped by a lack of research material that makes it difficult to say too much about some of these criminals. Fortunately, there’s a lot of first hand information available about Bonnie and Clyde, and Joe has consulted a number of books and magazine articles that were written in the 1960s and 70s in which the aging surviving gang members, cops, and bystanders had their observations recorded for posterity. So, there’s a lot of eyewitness testimony to some of these events, and Joe captures all of it in the book.
The events Joe portrays in the book prove the point about truth being stranger than fiction, and people who take the movie portrayals of Bonnie and Clyde’s crimes to task for being exaggerated will get a better appreciation for just how deadly the pair and their gang were. There are a number of shootouts, armed robberies, prison breaks, and car chases in the book, all of which really happened, with bullets flying all over the place (neither the crooks nor the cops were the best of shots). The incidents in this book rival those in any fictional gangster movie, past or present. Bonnie and Clyde were dangerous psychos, as the book clearly depicts, but they also could be magnanimous on occasion with the hostages (including police) they took. There’s also some humorous anecdotes in “Bonnie Parker” as well, such as the one in which Clyde and a couple of his confederates drive from Texas to Minnesota to rob a bank, decide it’s too cold up there, and then drive back to Kansas to rob one in a warmer location.
For those who haven’t read any of Joe’s books, his style takes a bit of getting used to, but “Bonnie Parker” is the best organized and easiest to follow of any of his books I’ve read. He pretty much tells the tale in chronological order and does a good job of keeping track of a big cast of supporting characters who show up and depart during the course of the book. Since much of the book is taken from the personal recollections of the participants in the events, there’s a lot of actual dialogue (or at least what the characters remember as the dialogue that took place some 30 years earlier), and the book flows quite well. Plus, there’s a number of Joe’s usual colorful turns of phrase, but, again, he avoids some of his wilder imagery and keeps the language entertaining without being distracting.
“Bonnie Parker” also contains a bonus. The last 20% of the book is a shortened version of another one of Joe’s books that I’ve read, the story of the murder of a New York mobster in the early 1900’s, for which murder a New York City police lieutenant was actually convicted and executed. It’s not as detailed as the full length version of the story (look it up under Joe’s bibliography under “The Wrong Man”), but it’s a good addition to the tale of Bonnie and Clyde.
From my correspondence with him, I know that Joe grew up in New York City, but, after reading “Bonnie Parker,” you’d think he has a good dose of Texas blood in him. Regardless, crime in the great outdoors of rural America obviously agrees with Joe, because he’s come up with one of the best retellings you’ll find of the legend of Bonnie and Clyde.
More about Steve Silver and Silver Screen Videos: He does extensive reviews for Amazon.com. He’s reviewed 4 of Joe’s books. Two 3-star ratings. One 4-star rating, and this is the first 5-star rating he gave me. His Amazon page is: www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A3CJN2S0XLVVLM/ref=cm_cr_pr_pdp?ie=UTF8