Bryan Burrough Q&A #2

Author or PUBLIC ENEMIES

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Bryan Burrough Q&A #2

Unread postby Liz » Tue Mar 18, 2008 8:26 am

ONBC: How did you choose which of the public enemies of the time to be the focus points of your book?

Bryan Burrough: Oh, they did it themselves. It was kind of obvious. Dillinger, Nelson, all of them, they were the big names. If you were going to tell one story, I felt you had to tell them all.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby nebraska » Tue Mar 18, 2008 8:22 pm

It must have been a difficult task to tell all those stories and intertwine them in a way that made the time line clear. Of course, here at ONBC we are a little partial to one Public Enemy as portrayed by Mr Depp :cloud9:, but Dillinger's story was definitely linked to the rest.

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Unread postby Theresa » Tue Mar 18, 2008 8:32 pm

The definite mark of a writer -- his characters decided how prominent they were going to be in the book, and like all good writers, Mr. Burrough acquiesced to them. And I'm glad, too. Having all the stories intertwined made for a fascinating look at that brief period in American history.

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Unread postby gemini » Tue Mar 18, 2008 10:55 pm

I agree completely that covering them all was what make the book so interesting. Not only did it tell the story of the FBI but it showed how intertwined their stories were. Many of them worked together at times and even the ones that didn't were aware of the others through the news coverage. The Kansas city massacre touched them all because it brought the FBI into their lives as a crime war instead of hit and miss investigations.
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Unread postby Baxendale Guitar » Wed Mar 19, 2008 12:35 am

Yes indeed. :-O
They all came out ready for action.
I was really impressed of all the characters and how they intertwine with each other's gangs, with the FBI agents and the Dates themselves.
Very interesting.
I am enjoying the book as well as these Questions & answers.
Thank you :cool:
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Unread postby Linda Lee » Wed Mar 19, 2008 12:39 am

It was very interesting to read about the criminals operating at the same time, and the interactions/connections that they had.
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Unread postby Lucky13 » Wed Mar 19, 2008 12:47 am

nebraska wrote: Here at ONBC we are a little partial to one Public Enemy as portrayed by Mr Depp :cloud9:, but Dillinger's story was definitely linked to the rest.


Not only was Dillinger linked to all the rest, I don't think Mr. Burroughs book would have held our interest near as much "without" all the rest. At times, I must admit, it was difficult to keep everyone straight, :blush: but it made for an amazing storyline.
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Unread postby suec » Wed Mar 19, 2008 3:13 am

I like the comment about how they did it themselves. They seem to also have decided the structure of it too, such as Floyd disappearing in the middle of the book for a while, and the focus on Karpis a the end, not only because that's how it was but also because he was alive to share his memories afterwards. Very interesting. I am looking forward to seeing what converts to the film, and how.
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Unread postby Liz » Wed Mar 19, 2008 10:08 am

suec wrote:I like the comment about how they did it themselves. They seem to also have decided the structure of it too, such as Floyd disappearing in the middle of the book for a while, and the focus on Karpis a the end, not only because that's how it was but also because he was alive to share his memories afterwards. Very interesting.


Very interesting, indeed, Maybe Mae! :-O
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby Parlez » Wed Mar 19, 2008 10:29 am

I could definitely see how all the gangsters interfaced with each other during that brief time period, but I'm with Lucky13 in that I had a hard time keeping everyone straight. Being a slow reader, I'd no sooner get into one character's story and location when another character would come on the scene in a completely different location. I found that distracting, although no doubt useful for acheiving the Big Picture. In my mind's eye I could see the movie being done using a split screen format - showing the various gangsters simultaneously going about their business in various towns - a la 'The Thomas Crown Affair' (the old version with Steve McQueen).

I really like Mr. Burrough's comment about the characters leading the way and sort of wanting to tell their own story. Very cool!
Thanks! :cool:
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Unread postby nebraska » Wed Mar 19, 2008 10:39 pm

Parlez, I agree that the book was overwhelming and keeping everyone straight was difficult. I was a bit dismayed while I was reading. I have since come to see PE as a basic primer, introducing me to the events of the time and inviting me to do further research to flesh it all out. I have been reading "Dillinger the Untold Story" and it has added a lot of facets of Dillinger's story I think PE is a book to be read and enjoyed as it isl, but I believe it is a launch pad into the universe of that era.

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Unread postby dharma_bum » Thu Mar 20, 2008 12:39 am

Impressive scholarship indeed. Thanks for making a making the life of times of disorganized crime so vivd.

Despite glamorous legacies, so many of the public enemies were rootless petty criminals that got lucky, randomly committing crimes for no more than the thrill of filling their pockets. it was interesting to see Dillinger pretty much fill the shoes that were left him.
"You can't broom out your head. You certainly can't broom out your heart. And there's a hot wire between them, and everything shows in the eyes."
—Johnny Depp


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