• Public Enemies

  • America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34
  • By: Bryan Burrough
  • Narrated by: Campbell Scott
  • Length: 6 hrs and 7 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (240 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In Public Enemies, Bryan Burrough strips away a thick layer of myths put out by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI to tell the full story of the most spectacular crime wave in American history, the two-year battle between the young Hoover and an 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 1933, police jurisdictions ended at state lines, the FBI was in its infancy, and fast cars and machine guns were easily available. It was a great time to be a bank robber. On hand were a motley crew of criminal masterminds, sociopaths, romantics, and cretins.

Bryan Burrough has unearthed an extraordinary amount of new material on all the major figures involved, revealing many fascinating interconnections in the vast underworld ecosystem that stretched from Texas up to Minnesota.

But the real-life connections were insignificant next to the sense of connectedness J. Edgar Hoover worked to create in the mind of the American public, using the "Great Crime Wave" to gain the position of untouchable power he would occupy for almost half a century.

©2004 Bryan Burrough (P)2004 Simon & Schuster Inc. AUDIOWORKS is an imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division, Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"The definitive account of the 1930s crime wave....[Burrough] successfully translates years of dogged research, which included thorough review of recently disclosed FBI files, into a graceful narrative....This book compellingly brings back to life people and times distorted in the popular imagination by hagiographic bureau memoirs and Hollywood." (Publishers Weekly)
"Fascinating..." (The New York Times)
"A colorful history of the mobile, heavily armed, self-glamorizing desperadoes called forth by the Depression and of the government's response, organized by the rigid, brilliant, incorruptible and ultimately creepy J. Edgar Hoover." (The New York Times Book Review)

What listeners say about Public Enemies

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Need the unabridged version

A book like this is fascinating, but I learned my lesson with previous purchases: wait for the unabridged edition!

44 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Too Abridged

Great stories, but I have a feeling that the unabridged version offers more insight into Hoover and the personalities and politics behind the FBI. The abridged version is mostly the gangster tales - very exciting stuff but it lacks the insight that I am sure Burrough meant to communicate. See Michael Mann's movie if you want shootemup stories and wait for the unabridged version if you want the whole story!

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Good listen....!

The books goes into most of the gangsters from that era, not just Dillinger. I thought it would have detailed more of Dillinger's life, but it was interesting to hear about some of the other gangsters as well, but not what I thought or like the movie at all.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

One of the Best

I love this book when I read it years ago. I love this book when I read it again. still I love this book hearing it read to me is fantastic. I listen while I drive because I don't have time anymore to read as much as I would like to. decided to go ahead and purchase this on audible just to see how it was. definitely not disappointed

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book

I’d love this book. I to like the writer got stories from my father about Dillinger. My father lived in Indianapolis and his dad had a cottage in Spencer so driving past the Dylan farm was not an uncommon thing. Also I grew up in the area of Little Bohemia lodge. Dillinger has always peaked my interest. This book was great to read and know how all the gangs intertwined with each other. Very informational, and very interesting. I recommend it to anyone with or without interest of any of the public enemies.

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    2 out of 5 stars

Way too Abridged

I like to often read the physical book while listening… this audio version is like the first sentence of a paragraph and then skips a whole page. Such a bummer.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

You will not be disappointed

I enjoyed the audiobook, and would actually listen to it again. So if the sections I would rewind just to hear it again. I thought it was pretty accurate. Would recommend.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Great, but too short

Wish the unabridged version was available!! Great story, though!! Loved the movie that was adapted from it!!

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    5 out of 5 stars

Unfortunately abridged

I first heard about this book years ago when I saw that film that it was eventually made into, Michael Mann’s Public Enemies. Like the movie it was gripping drama of larger than life characters on both sides of the law. Unfortunately unlike this movie this is not a complete story. Nowhere in the details of the sales page of this book is it mentioned that this is the abridged version of the book. This is a broad and sense subject, for it for it to be abridge to a mere 6 hours of audio is a crime on par with those documented in this book.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

great book

need an unabridged version. wonderful narrator, but so much of the original book is missing.