Baby Face Nelson: Portrait of a Public Enemy

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Cumberland House Publishing, 2002 - Biography & Autobiography - 402 pages
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Lester Joseph Gillis -- better known to the public and press of the 1930s as Baby Face Nelson -- was one of a succession of public enemies beginning with John Dillinger and progressing to Bonnie and Clyde, Ma Barker, Machine Gun Kelly, and Pretty Boy Floyd. For decades their stories were largely myths, containing a combination of popular folklore and carefuly crafted FBI fables.

In recent years historians have generated a more factual look at the life and times of the various Depression-era desperados. Until now Baby Face Nelson has remained as enigmatic and one-dimensional as he was then, portrayed by J. Edgar Hoover and newsmen as a trigger-happy punk who looked like a choirboy and killed without a conscience. Finally the full story of his short life can be told.

Using new information that comes from the formerly classified files of the FBI, the Nelson who emerges from the pages of Baby Face Nelson: Portrait of a Public Enemy is a more paradoxical and interesting figure than one might expect. Obviously addicted to crime in his youth and evidently intoxicated with violence near the end of his life, he came from an ordinary, honest middle-class family. In a surprising departure from the gangster norm, Nelson and his wife remained fiercely devoted to one another, and between holdups they often lived a quiet domestic life with their two children and, at times, Nelson's mother.

The main focus of this biography is on Nelson's remarkable criminal career, from sensational bank robberies and blazing gun battles up to his death at the age of twenty-five. Many misconceptions are corrected and some of the abuses of the FBI are exposed.

  

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Review: Baby Face Nelson: Portrait of a Public Enemy

User Review  - Doug Mcnair - Goodreads

A good book about the gangster era of the '30s. Though its general focus is on Nelson, it's really a book about the entire Dillinger gang and how they operated. We learn that the secret of their ... Read full review

Contents

Chapter
3
Chapter
13
Chapter 3
39
Chapter 4
59
Chapter 5
81
Chapter 6
119
Chapter 7
141
Chapter 8
159
Escape from Wisconsin
239
Chapter 12
269
Chapter 13
289
Chapter 14
311
Chapter 15
337
The Wages of Sin
359
Epilogue
373
Acknowledgments
385

Chapter 9
181
Weekend at Emils
203

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About the author (2002)

Nickel is a freelance writer living in Janesville, Wisconsin.

William J. Helmer is the author of 'The Gun That Made the Twenties Roar' and the coauthor of 'Dillinger: The Untold Story' and 'Baby Face Nelson.' He lives in Boerne, Texas.

Bibliographic information