Public Enemies

Public Enemies

America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34

Additional Formats
  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780143035374
  • 640 Pages
  • Penguin Books
  • Adult


In Public Enemies, bestselling author Bryan Burrough strips away the thick layer of myths put out by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI to tell the full story—for the first time—of the most spectacular crime wave in American history, the two-year battle between the young Hoover and the assortment of criminals who became national icons: John Dillinger, Machine Gun Kelly, Bonnie and Clyde, Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, and the Barkers. In an epic feat of storytelling and drawing on a remarkable amount of newly available material on all the major figures involved, Burrough reveals a web of interconnections within the vast American underworld and demonstrates how Hoover’s G-men overcame their early fumbles to secure the FBI’s rise to power.
Public Enemies

Public Enemies

Bryan Burrough


“Brims with vivid portraiture … Excellent true crime.” —The New York Times Book Review

“An amazingly detailed true-life thriller…” —Entertainment Weekly

“It is hard to imagine a more careful, complete and entrancing book on the subject, and on this era.” —The Washington Post

“[A] riveting true-crime tale… Fascinating… The real story, it turns out, is much better than the Hollywood version.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Spellbinding… A model of narrative journalism and [a] gripping read.” —BusinessWeek

Table of Contents

Author’s Note
Cast of Characters


  1. A Prelude to War, Spring 1933 1

  2. A Massacre by Persons Unknown, June 8 to June 15, 1933 19

  3. The College Boys Take the Field, June 17 to July 22, 1933 51

  4. The Baying of the Hounds, July 22 to August 25, 1933 71

  5. The Kid Jimmy, August 18 to September 25, 1933 98

  6. The Streets of Chicago, October 12 to November 20, 1933 135

  7. Ambushes, November 20 to December 31, 1933 162

  8. “An Attack on All We Hold Dear,” January 2 to January 28, 1934 183

  9. A Star is Born, January 30 to March 2, 1934 206

  10. Dillinger and Nelson, March 3 to March 29, 1934 234

  11. Crescendo, March 30 to April 10, 1934 267

  12. Death in the North Woods, April 10 to April 23, 1934 292

  13. “And It’s Death for Bonnie and Clyde,” April 23 to May 23, 1934 323

  14. New Faces, May 24 to June 30, 1934 362

  15. The Woman in Orange, July 1 to July 27, 1934 388

  16. The Scramble, July 23 to September 12, 1934 417

  17. A Field in Ohio and a Highway in Illinois, September 18 to November 27, 1934 446

  18. The Last Man Standing, December 3, 1934 to January 20, 1935 484

  19. Pas de Deux, January 1935 until… 515

Epilogue 543

Bibliographical Essay 553
Notes 556
Selected Biography 567
Acknowledgements 571
Index 573

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Fun Fact

Elvis Presley is born in 1935 and, a little over 20 years later, he would have his first #1 single on the US charts, forever changing the landscape of popular culture and ushering in a new age of celebrity superstardom.

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