Bryan Burrough Q&A #7


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Bryan Burrough Q&A #7

Unread postby Liz » Sun Mar 23, 2008 10:19 am

ONBC: Did you find yourself admiring or liking any of the public enemies you researched? For example, did you feel regret at Dillinger’s ignoble assassination? Did you think Karpis had a good life in spite of it all? Did you identify with any of them or their situations?

Bryan Burrough: I did feel a twinge of sadness at Dillinger’s death. He was a criminal and a murderer, but he was also a human being trying to make his way in hard times. Not to excuse his crimes or that killing in any way, but it was easy to put yourselves in Dillinger’s shoes. He was loyal to his family and friends – immensely, so, in fact – and he had that charm and undeniable charisma.

Karpis? Well, he was a sharp one. He knew what he was doing, and got what he had coming. A good life? I don’t think so. Not after 33 years in prison.
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Unread postby Lucky13 » Sun Mar 23, 2008 10:30 am

I honestly did have a "soft spot" for Dillinger (not just because Johnny is portraying him :blush: though he REALLY looks great!)

As reported in one of the documentaries, it stated that Dillinger NEVER intended to cause harm to anyone... he was deeply upset about a prison guard that was slain during an escape. Dillinger was no doubt a criminal, but one I think everyone may have found at least one quality that they admired in him.
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Unread postby gemini » Sun Mar 23, 2008 10:44 am

On this question I am on the same wave length as Burrough. I like, Lucky13, did have a soft spot for Dillinger for the very same reasons Mr Burrough mentions. I did admire Karpis for his intelligence but also thought he got what he deserved because he did kill along the way.
I think we look at Dillinger much like the reporters and public of his time. They excused his robberies more readily because of the hard times of the day, they were amused that he was a regular guy, but he lost a lost of admiration when he killed the policeman. I think he regretted it, which is why he tried to deny it later. I also didn't like the way he was killed.
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Unread postby stroch » Sun Mar 23, 2008 11:15 am

I actually liked a number of the characters.

Dillinger, because of his charm and panache, of course. He would have been an easy man to become involved with, or to identify with from afar, and his killing was a shameful affair. That doesn't negate any of his bad qualities -- he WAS a thief and a murderer, and a philanderer as well.

Karpis seemed to me to be a man who could come out on top in any situation. Even though he was in jail so long, he probably lived a mental life that satisfied him. He would have had the intellectual resources to be an interested observer, and could synthesize his experiences objectively.
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Unread postby nebraska » Sun Mar 23, 2008 11:41 am

I suppose if you immerse yourself in the story of anyone's life, you will find some compassion for that person. Or at least some understanding of what made them who they became. People just aren't totally one dimensional -- but as someone pointed out during the discussion, the slain man's wife/family probably would have a lot of trouble dredging up sympathy for Dillinger. We can become so compassionate and understanding that we fail to hold folks accountable for their actions, and I think that is a flaw in today's legal and education systems. Ooops. better get off my :soapbox: Just my opinion.

As I mentioned in response to the Purvis question, I think Mr Burrough did a good job of presenting facts without bias. Impressive! :cool:

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Unread postby Parlez » Sun Mar 23, 2008 11:57 am

I was completely on Dillinger's side from the get-go because I knew ahead of time he was doomed. He was ultimately going to have the most ignominious death ever. So I was rooting for him to grab all the gusto he could and to have as many 'gotcha' moments as possible vis a vis the bumbling cops and G-men.

As far as Karpis goes, he seemed like the kind of guy who would make the most of any situation he found himself in. I could easily see him getting the upper hand in a prison environment; becoming the guy everyone else turns to for special favors and insider info. He was a suvivor, and if that was his main goal, his life was no doubt a 'good' one.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sun Mar 23, 2008 9:42 pm

I think Mr. Burrough's writing gives us the feel for what the general public of the time felt for Dillinger. It's fun to root for the underdog, especially when he has the charisma and personality of Dillinger. He was definitely an everyman, Robin Hood sort. After the death of Dillinger I wasn't sure the rest of the book would hold my attention in the same way but I became very involved in Karpis' story. I found him to be another fascinating character, smart, savvy and a suvivor. He definitely held my attention to the end. He would have to be my second favorite character. Well done! :cool:
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Unread postby suec » Mon Mar 24, 2008 8:02 am

Dillinger comes across as a likeable guy and not just because of his charm but for other reasons already stated here.
After his death, I found myself rooting for Karpis because I disliked the way Dillinger died and pretty much everything about Hoover. But I didn't like Karpis much. He was interesting, to be sure, but I found myself regarding him with a grain of salt, because of some of the information about him coming from hs own memory. Bit ironic, really, in view of the fact that others' disbelief crops up in the prologue, and perhaps the fault lies with me there.
I do think it's interesting the way Mr Burrough describes these guys as killers and murderers at the start, and comments on the way that they are remembered when the FBI agents are not, and yet paints such a memorable and charismatic picture of them in the book. As nebraska, says, people are not one-dimensional, and perhaps it is a case of allowing these people to tell their own story by their words and actions.
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Unread postby teacher » Mon Mar 24, 2008 9:43 am

You do start to sympathise with a lot of people you learn about (I mean, how can you not commiserate with someone who just wants to hide in the kitchen?) - Dillinger and Karpis leading the list for me, but like many said in the Purvis discussion, he got less of my affection as the story unfolded. It will be very interesting to see how much of the layers that Burrough presented so well will the actors be able to convey. I'm especially curious to see what Bale does with Purvis - he could easily turn into a cartoon character with that ego.
Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion. - Tom Wingfield, Glass Menagerie

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Unread postby stroch » Tue Mar 25, 2008 10:37 am

[quote="nebraska"]-- but as someone pointed out during the discussion, the slain man's wife/family probably would have a lot of trouble dredging up sympathy for Dillinger.

I think that was me :blush:
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