Born in the squalid Irish slums of Brooklyn, in the first year of the twentieth century, Willie Sutton came of age at a time when banks were out of control. If they weren't taking brazen risks, causing millions to lose their jobs and homes, they were shamelessly seeking bailouts. Trapped in a cycle of bank panics, depressions and soaring unemployment, Sutton saw only one way out, only one way to win the girl of his dreams.
So began the career of America's most successful bank robber. Over three decades Sutton became so good at breaking into banks, and such a master at breaking out of prisons, police called him one of the most dangerous men in New York, and the FBI put him on its first-ever Most Wanted List.
But the public rooted for Sutton. He never fired a shot, after all, and his victims were merely those bloodsucking banks. When he was finally caught for good in 1952, crowds surrounded the jail and chanted his name.
Blending vast research with vivid imagination, Pulitzer Prize-winner J.R. Moehringer brings Willie Sutton blazing back to life. In Moehringer's retelling, it was more than need or rage at society that drove Sutton. It was one unforgettable woman. In all Sutton's crimes and confinements, his first love (and first accomplice) was never far from his thoughts. And when Sutton finally walked free - a surprise pardon on Christmas Eve, 1969 - he immediately set out to find her.
Poignant, comic, fast-paced and fact-studded, Sutton tells a story of economic pain that feels eerily modern, while unfolding a story of doomed love, which is forever timeless.
"History lovers will enjoy this fictional biography of a modern icon of crime." - Library Journal
"Starred Review. A captivating and absorbing read." - Kirkus
"Starred Review. Readers will be riveted by this colorful portrayal of a life in crime spurred by a hatred for banks, but Moehringer, in his first novel, isnt content to stop there. He takes it several layers deeper, probing the psyche of an enigmatic man who had a genius for thievery and an even greater capacity for self-delusion." - Booklist
"The authors eye for detail and sense of place make every stop on Suttons internal and external journeys resonate - from smoking a Chesterfield to Suttons first sight of the moon as a free man, every scene is saturated with life." - Publishers Weekly
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Rated of 5
Sutton: Bank Robber & Intellectual
I just finished reading Sutton by J. R. Moehringer and enjoyed every chapter.
In Chapter One, I chuckled when the prison stated that "Prisoners aren't allowed to have psychology books. The warden thinks they'll hypnotize each other."
The author did a fabulous job of revealing both the reporter's and the photographer's personalities.
Willie Sutton's story flips back and forth between the current Sutton (released from prison in 1969) and the earlier Sutton. The author clearly depicts life in Irish Town and the poverty within, as well as growing up in Brooklyn during the Great Depression.
I truly recommend this book to readers who want an in-depth story of the greatest bank robber in the world.
J.R. Moehringer is a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. He was the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2000, and a Pulitzer finalist for feature writing in 1998 for his magazine piece "Resurrecting The Champ," an article which was recently adapted for a film starring Samuel L. Jackson and Josh Hartnett.
Moehringers first book, the memoir The Tender Bar, was a New York Times bestseller. He lives in Denver, Colorado.
From the author's website
J.R. Moehringer: more-ringer
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