Paul Johnson

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Public Enemies: The True Story of America's Greatest Crime Wave


Allen Lane The Penguin Press 570pp £20 order from our bookshop

AMERICA HAS A love-hate for its prominent criminals, who periodically dominate the media. In the 1870s it was Jesse James and his gang, robbing trains and banks. In the 1880s and 1890s it was the Robber Barons of industry. In the early 1900s it was public corruption, scourged by the Muckrakers. The 1920s were the age of the bootleggers. In our own time attention has switched back to Wall Street crime. The early 1930s were the classic period of ‘Public Enemies’, usually bank robbers, using fast cars and the new Thompson sub-machine gun.

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