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.
mayor of Stamford, Connecticut, was one of FDR’s intellectual and political heavyweights. Originally tapped to become ambassador to the Philippines, FDR put him in the Justice Department as an emergency replacement for Walsh after his untimely death. It was a fortuitous choice. Cummings had big ideas for raising the profile of the Justice Department, which at the time, in 1933, was but a minor player in the small government world of Washington, DC. FDR was articulating a vision for his
prison, flat out told the federal agents that, despite the death of two of his officers, it was up to the feds to solve the case. The feds were an annoyance. In his opinion, they had brought this disaster to Kansas City through their ineptitude and their failure to work through the well-established system in the city that could have prevented it. And now that system was going under a national microscope, which was making things uncomfortable for people like Reppert and the men he worked for. The
as kidnappers are concerned it has always been mysterious to me why they didn’t design tough guys like you to catch me. Due to the colorful display of machine guns and for your transportation, you have allowed yourself to imagine people think you are tough but it is no object for the law to steal a harmless man. I don’t carry guns around with me to impress any one. I carry them as a dire necessity. When the time comes I am always positive of my capability to use them. I am not boasting I am too
“That’s the man,” said the laconic oilman. Berenice looked out the window of the car and said, “That face will haunt me as long as I live.” With that, the agents yanked Kelly away toward the motorcade of ten heavily armed cars that would race him back to the Oklahoma City jail to await trial. As they did, Kelly complained that he couldn’t keep up with his legs shackled together. “I can’t walk fast in these things!” After locking Kelly up, Deputy Marshal Elman Jester asked Kelly about the
Alcatraz there were no newspapers or radios; there was no commissary where inmates could select items to purchase, like candy or cigarettes. Their days were regimented to the minute. For the rebellious, there was solitary confinement in the prison’s “dungeon.” Life in the dungeon was a special form of hell, completely unknown to the outside world until it was described in testimony by inmate Harry Young, who was accused of murdering another prisoner with a home-made shiv: Its size was