Charles Arthur Floyd, better known as Pretty Boy Floyd (1904-1934), was one of the last of the so-called Robin Hood outlaws in the tradition of Jesse James, Billy the Kid, and John Dillinger. He engaged in numerous bank-robbing exploits across the Midwest until federal agents and local police shot him down near East Liverpool, Ohio, on October 22, 1934 - a feat which helped build the image of the modern FBI.
This detailed account of his life, crimes, and death makes extensive use of FBI reports, government records, local newspapers, and contemporary journalistic accounts. Neither highly intelligent nor polished, Floyd relied on his cool demeanor, shrewd cunning, and expert gun-handling ability, but he was also considered by those who knew him to be generous and honest. During the depression, many people saw banks as enemies and Floyd as a hero, and helped screen him from the police. Once he left a large contribution at an Oklahoma church - and no one reported his visit. He was known to drop in at country dances, dance with the prettiest girls, and pay the fiddler well. One story claims that he kept a rural school in fuel one winter. He attended church regularly, even during intense manhunts, and visited his father's grave each Memorial Day, despite the risk of capture.
In this biography, Jeffery S. King addresses many of the questions still surrounding Floyd, such as whether he had contact with other notorious outlaws of the period, including Dillinger, Alvin Karpis, and Bonnie and Clyde, and whether he was executed by the FBI. He also links Floyd to the infamous Kansas City Massacre. Particularly notable are King's assessments of the effectiveness of the FBI and of J. Edgar Hoover's talent for self promotion. Jeffery S. King is a freelance writer and retired reference librarian. His articles have appeared in Lincoln Herald, Sepia, and Utah Historical Quarterly.
The book is published by The Kent State University Press.
©1998 The Kent State University Press (P)2013 Redwood Audiobooks
"Thoroughly enjoyable, informative, and suitably bloody." (Booklist)
I am an avid eclectic reader.
This book is written in an academic style and does a good job of attempting to present only provable facts. It is obvious a great deal of research went into the book. King covers Floyd's life from early childhood to his death on October 22, 1934 in East Liverpool, Ohio. King cover Floyd's life of crime and down plays his so called acts of paying off mortgage's of poor farmers and helping out with food to poor women and children. The newspaper apparently like to show the relationship of Floyd to Jessie James and Robin Hood. The role of Melvin Purvis in the killing of Floyd is covered as well as the feud between Purvis and head of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover. King outlines how this period of lawless from 1929 to 1934 brought about the formation of the FBI and the rise to power of J. Edgar Hoover. In covering, in depth, Floyd's crimes, he also covers the Kansas City Massacre and other well known criminals of the time. Overall this is an interesting story of one man's life and the crimes of the early 1930's. Another interesting book would be to compare this era of crime to the current crimes. Jack Chekijian does a good job narrating the book.
Jack Chekijan reads the story like he had a sleeping pill the night before and had just woken up. It's like a slightly slowed William Shatner. While well-reseached, King only does a passing-good job of delivering the story of Floyd's exploits and completely loses any potential drama. It's pretty mind boggling that a book about gangsters, bank robberies, high-topped get-a-ways, an shootouts can be boring.
I can only wistfully imagine what Eric Larson and Scott Brick could have made of this.
The book is well-researched. I do feel like I learned a lot.
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