If you’d asked me before I’d picked up this book just what Bonnie and Clyde’s story was, I would have said ‘Weren’t they just two outlaws looking for trouble?’ Turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong. Granted they were both trouble makers, and yes they didn’t stay on the right side of the law, but I truly believe it was never their intention. Instead of thinking the pair deserved what they got, I now have an incredible amount of empathy for them.
Fooling Around: When the gang fled Joplin they left behind rolls of undeveloped film. When the police processed it, many of the photos showed Clyde and Bonnie playfully brandishing guns at each other.
Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker have been glamourised in print and on the silver screen, however, their reality was very different – and far more fascinating. Jeff Guinn tells the true-to-life story of the ill-fated lovers with such skill, that you find it really hard to put the book down! There is no room for exaggeration here; their story is enough to keep you gripped!
Bonnie and Clyde were two youngsters from a filthy Dallas slum, who fell in love and risked their lives for a brief interlude of excitement and fame. During the Great Depression, there was very little employment opportunity for the people who lived in such slums. Even in the early days, after Clyde managed to find a job at P&G, he subsidised his lifestyle by carrying out small robberies. Sometimes the police caught him, sometimes they were just looking for someone to blame. Either way, Clyde was blacklisted and wasn’t able to get another decent job. It was a total catch-22 situation. Clyde desperately needed money and saw no other option but to steal. The cycle continued, and spiralled.
Partners in Crime: Bonnie and Clyde in March 1933, in a photo found by police at the Joplin, Missouri hideout.
During this tumultuous time, vibrant divorcee Bonnie Parker stood by Clyde and even attempted on several occasions to break him out of prison. After a stint in a labour camp, Clyde cut his own toe off to avoid being sent into the blistering cold to endure hard labour, where many of his peers died.
Life in the Slums: Mug shots taken by Dallas police of 16 year old Clyde Barrow after his arrest in December 1926 for car theft.
The media loves to claim that Bonnie & Clyde embarked on a killing and looting rampage. The reality was simply that they fell into situations that we’re sometimes beyond their control. With the law on their tails, both were desperate and faced no other option that to live a life on the run. They were chased from state to state between 1931 and 1934 with additional gang members coming and going; but they always returned to Dallas to see their families and cherished their time with them.
After an almost fatal car crash, Bonnie was wounded badly and after the death of Clyde’s brother, Buck, they both knew they didn’t have long to go. Law officers in Louisiana made it their mission to hunt them down, and in the end succeeded by ambushing the pair and shooting them a reported 50 times. What would seem ghastly and distasteful now was the stuff of entertainment and their bullet-holed car was taken on tour and displayed in fairs across America.
Displayed in State Fairs across America: The so-called Death Car that Bonnie & Clyde were killed in. Formerly on display in a casino in Nevada. Now in Chinatown, Washington, DC, US.
I have tried not to give too much away in this review, as I really hope you decide to pick up a copy and lose yourself in Bonnie and Clyde’s short but truly eventful life. This is well worth a read and will definitely shatter your illusions of the cold hearted outlaws Hollywood made them out to be.