The Year of Fear: Machine Gun Kelly and the Manhunt That Changed the Nation
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It's 1933 and Prohibition has given rise to the American gangster--now infamous names like Bonnie and Clyde and John Dillinger. Bank robberies at gunpoint are commonplace and kidnapping for ransom is the scourge of a lawless nation. With local cops unauthorized to cross state lines in pursuit and no national police force, safety for kidnappers is just a short trip on back roads they know well from their bootlegging days. Gangster George "Machine Gun" Kelly and his wife, Kathryn, are some of the most celebrated criminals of the Great Depression. With gin-running operations facing extinction and bank vaults with dwindling stores of cash, Kelly sets his sights on the easy-money racket of kidnapping. His target: rich oilman, Charles Urschel.
Enter J. Edgar Hoover, a desperate Justice Department bureaucrat who badly needs a successful prosecution to impress the new administration and save his job. Hoover's agents are given the sole authority to chase kidnappers across state lines and when Kelly bungles the snatch job, Hoover senses his big opportunity. What follows is a thrilling 20,000 mile chase over the back roads of Depression-era America, crossing 16 state lines, and generating headlines across America along the way--a historical mystery/thriller for the ages.
Joe Urschel's The Year of Fear is a thrilling true crime story of gangsters and lawmen and how an obscure federal bureaucrat used this now legendary kidnapping case to launch the FBI.
And, in one of its most sensational coups, the F.B.I. seized the slayers of Mrs. Viola Gregg Liuzzo only hours after the civil rights worker’s shotgun death in Alabama in 1965. Mr. Hoover always understood the subtle currents of power among officials in Washington better than anyone knew him. Not a New Dealer at heart, he had nonetheless dazzled President Franklin D. Roosevelt with his celebrated success against kidnappers. In catching the Kellys and hunting down the rest of their
Enemies, America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933–34. New York: The Penguin Press, 2004. Congdon, Don. The 1930s: A Time to Remember. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1962. Cooper, Courtney Ryley. Here’s to Crime. Boston: Little Brown, 1937. ______. Ten Thousand Public Enemies. Boston: Little Brown, 1935. Cummings, Homer, and Carl Brent Swisher. Selected Papers of Homer Cummings: Attorney General of the United States, 1933–1939. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1939. Denton,
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drawn a response. A letter, airmailed from Joplin, Missouri, landed in Box 807, addressed to Kirkpatrick. Sir, In view of the fact that you have had the ad inserted as per our instructions, we gather you are prepared to meet our ultimatum. You will pack TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS ($200,000.00) IN USED GENUINE FEDERAL RESERVE NOTES OF TWENTY DOLLARS DENOMINATION in a suitable light-colored leather bag, and have someone purchase transportation for you, including berth, aboard Train No. 28 (the
telling him that the Associated Press was moving the details. With his name in headlines in every paper on the street, and radio newsmen declaring his Public Enemy status nationwide, Kelly could not stay in one place for too long. He’d already been tagged in the Union Station shootout and that was bringing heat, but now he’d pulled off a record-setting snatch job and the feds were crawling all over the usual safe houses and hideouts and making things miserable for anyone with known connections