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
Exploration. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1978. Maccabee, Paul. John Dillinger Slept Here: A Crook’s Tour of Crime and Corruption in St. Paul, 1920–1936. St. Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota Historical Press, 1995. McElvaine, Robert S. The Great Depression: America, 1929–1941. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2009. Medsger, Betty. The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014. Miles, Ray. King of the Wildcatters: The Life and Times of
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not, they would chain him to a tree and phone in his location to the cops in the morning. Urschel assured them he could find his way home without assistance. Kelly gave him back his watch, wallet and ten dollars for cab fare. Then he helped him out of the car, explaining one last time that if he revealed anything about where he’d been held, or what had happened there, or any details of his captivity whatsoever, he and his entire family would be killed. That, said Kelly, was a promise. “Wait
ranch. There, they buried their share of the ransom money in a large thermos and a honey jar beneath a tree behind the barn. The next day, Kathryn bought an old Chevy in the nearby town of Brownwood. George hid out at Cass Coleman’s place in Coleman County. Kathryn dressed in some farm-girl clothing and went off on her own in an old Ford pickup truck. On August 20, Coleman, who was getting nervous about his dangerous houseguest, arranged for him to rent a shack on the farm of his good friend