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 Post subject: Dillinger Question #1 ~ Presentation
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 10:04 am 
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:dillingerhello: Welcome to ONBC’s discussion of Dillinger: The Untold Story. If you are new to ONBC, Agent DITHOT and I, your administrators, must inform you that there are laws here that must be upheld in order to keep law and order. :tommygun: Actually…..they’re just guidelines really :capnjack:

Please try to keep your answers specific to the question of the day. There are only 2 weeks of interrogation for you to endure, so we don’t want to have any query shot down before it’s time, as it were. Also, remember that you can throw new light on the testimony at any time. We are always willing to consider new evidence. :gangster:

Okay...there are 2 laws that must be followed at ONBC...
There are no wrong answers and have fun! That’s an order! :grin:

So let the questioning begin….

Comment on Bill Helmer’s presentation of Girardin’s account. Compare the presentations of Bryan Burrough and Bill Helmer.



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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #1 ~ Presentation
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 2:12 pm 
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For me, Helmer's book was more like a story and Burrough's was more like a text book. It may be a bit like comparing apples and oranges, for a variety of reasons. I think they were two very different books with a different purpose in mind for each of them. Burroughs covered a huge amount of material, trying to write a sweeping all encompassing story of the era, not just the Public Enemies but the beginnings of the FBI as well with all the power struggle and duplicity in the Bureau. And he wrote about all of that mostly from studying files and files and more files. Helmer, on the other hand, was able to do research from more human sources -- third hand, or maybe even fourth hand as given to Girardin -- but eye witness accounts in a more relaxed fashion. He tackled Dillinger's story, and a few of his gang members because you can't tell Dillinger's story without them. But the focus was more narrow, mostly about one outlaw, which made it easier to read. However, I relied on information I had gained in Burroughs' book to support what I was reading in Helmer's. Helmer had a whole section of footnotes -- Burroughs might have included that information in the body of the text adding to the weight of reading.

I thought Helmer did a very good job of presenting Girardin's account. He explained how it all came to be and he made his own observations and comments, but he kept his remarks in separate chapters.


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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #1 ~ Presentation
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 2:47 pm 
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Ditto. :grin: Well said, nebraska!



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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #1 ~ Presentation
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 2:53 pm 
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I can't really talk about Burroughs' presentation because I haven't read much of his book although Helmer's treatment of Giardin's work definitely benefits from the human approach. Public Enemies is ultimately about John Dillinger so I enjoyed having a book that dealt more with the man than an era. I felt more apart of the story because it relied so heavily on different interpretations of who, where, and why. Helmer and Giardin's is less aseptic.



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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #1 ~ Presentation
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 3:03 pm 
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I enjoyed both books equally. I'm glad I read Burrough's book first, as it gave such an all-encompassing view of everything that went on during that time period. And I liked Helmer's book because it was like reading a journal from the time. Totally different styles...both very good, but very different from each other.

I agree with Nebraska, Helmer stayed faithful to Girardin's story by not breaking in and adding his additional information to the story itself, although I wish his footnotes had been at the bottom of the pages of the story instead of all together at the back of the book. I read the book and then all the footnotes, and I think it would have been nice to have had them a bit more accessible throughout the story. Although with the length of some of them, I do understand why the book wasn't presented that way. I guess I wanted it all.


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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #1 ~ Presentation
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 3:29 pm 
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Great answers so far! :cool: Thanks for being the brave one, Nebraska. Great summary, BTW.

I appreciated both books. Each had its purpose. Bryan’s was meant to encompass a wide range of public enemies (including the FBI). I think his focus was more on telling the story of a time period and the social, economic and political factors in play. Helmer’s focus was on telling Dillinger’s story. I’m glad I read them both, and I’m glad that I read PE first. I think having a foundation on the times and all of the players allowed me to appreciate Helmer’s book even more. Plus I was thirsty for more details on Dillinger. Although I know both are historical accounts, I didn’t feel that either one read like a textbook, but more like a story. I think they both did their homework and provided a lot of good factual information. I have to agree that I wish the footnotes were on the same page (but I understand that Helmer had to distinguish between Girardin’s and his own somehow--and I appreciate that he was true to Girardin's account). It just took longer to read the book, going back and forth between the two sections of the book. And I missed a few of them because I didn’t catch the numbers. All in all, I think both books are must reads for anyone wanting to learn about John Dillinger, his buddies and the FBI.



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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #1 ~ Presentation
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 5:06 pm 
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I agree they were definitely two different tales. I loved them both and I'm glad I read Burrough's book first. I loved reading Girardin's account as it was from the time and place when everything occurred and from the memory of someone who was intimately involved. Burrough's book was more of a recounting from a historical perspective and hindsight which I enjoyed because it helped me understand the time period and the history on both sides of the law. I do think Helmer's footnotes added a lot to the book. I just earmarked the page after I read one so I could find the next one easily. Both were very well done and I find it difficult to really compare them...apples and oranges as nebraska said.



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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #1 ~ Presentation
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 5:29 pm 
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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:
I agree they were definitely two different tales. I loved them both...


I agree with everyone else, completely different, but both excellent for the information within. I found Bryan's book extremely helping in watching the movie... gave really great insight into all the other gang members. I can't say one was "better" than the other, I truly enjoyed them both. :heart2:



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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #1 ~ Presentation
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 6:18 pm 
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Sorry to say that I have not read the Burrough book. As for the Helmer book - I really appreciated that he let Mr. Girardin's account stay separate from his own footnotes. Helmer's footnotes (even with alot of page turning and bookmarking) added alot of depth to Girardin's manuscript. I found it very interesting that it was written during the time that these events were happening. For me , it gave a more actual and personal touch to the story. But I do wonder when Piquette was interview by Girardin if he put his slant on his importance to the Dillinger legacy.


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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #1 ~ Presentation
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 6:36 pm 

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Burrough's book was incredibly educational; The Girardin/Helmer account was wickedly entertaining. I found myself laughing out loud repeatedly at Dillinger's wild escapades and bravado while reading Dillinger: The Untold Story. That may have happened once or twice while reading PE. I deeply appreciated the fact that Helmer left Girardin's account largely untouched, and buried the updates in section introductions and footnotes. I loved the colorful 1930s language Girardin used. At times it read like a newsreel script, and I envisioned it playing as such. At other times it was like listening to the old timers at the family gathering recounting the stories of their youth. And like all good family stories, the tales may have gotten a bit taller, and a bit more colorful as they were passed on, but the fact that they were passed word-of-mouth from person to person I think made a huge difference in the final presentation. Dillinger told them to O'Leary and Piquette, O'Leary and Piquette told them to Girardin, and Girardin wrote them down. (With much laughter all the way down the line, I've a feeling.) I do think it's the closest thing we'll ever have to Dillinger telling the story himself. :dillingerhello:

As for the footnotes: I eventually used two bookmarks - one for the story, one for the notes. It seemed to solve the problem.


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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #1 ~ Presentation
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 8:30 pm 
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I missed any explanation about the footnote section (and I have read the book twice, but didn't go into the additional sections at the back the first time). :dunce: Did Helmer tell us about the footnote chapter and I just missed it? I guess I thought the numbers were to reference a bibliography or something rather than actual footnotes. :dunce: Fortunately, the footnotes were written in such a way that I was able to figure out what most of them meant when I read them as a separate chapter of the book instead of peppering them throughout the whole thing.


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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #1 ~ Presentation
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 8:38 pm 
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nebraska, I read the footnotes as a separate chapter, too. I think it would have been better to have read them as I went along, but Girardin's story was so entertaining that I didn't stop to go look in the back of the book.


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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #1 ~ Presentation
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 10:55 pm 
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RamblinRebel, I'm glad you commented on the 1930's language! I meant to do so as well. That really added an authentism and period feel to the account.

I always thought of footnotes as notes at the "foot" of the page if you will and there were some of those as well, initialed by Helmer, where he adds a clarification to Giarardin's telling of the story. What we are calling the footnotes chapter, Helmer calls, "After the Facts - Further Investigation by William J. Helmer". By placing a number by each section in the main body we have a reference to further information whether meant to be read at the time of the note or as a separate chapter I'm not sure. I found it better to read it at the time of the notation, otherwise I wasn't sure of the reference to the story.

As an aside the History Channel was airing a show tonight on the crime wave of the 30's and during the Dillinger section I did see a short interview with Helmer, Rick Mattix and Bryan Burrough. :cool:



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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #1 ~ Presentation
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 11:02 pm 
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RamblinRebel wrote:
I deeply appreciated the fact that Helmer left Girardin's account largely untouched, and buried the updates in section introductions and footnotes. I loved the colorful 1930s language Girardin used. At times it read like a newsreel script, and I envisioned it playing as such. At other times it was like listening to the old timers at the family gathering recounting the stories of their youth. And like all good family stories, the tales may have gotten a bit taller, and a bit more colorful as they were passed on, but the fact that they were passed word-of-mouth from person to person I think made a huge difference in the final presentation. Dillinger told them to O'Leary and Piquette, O'Leary and Piquette told them to Girardin, and Girardin wrote them down. (With much laughter all the way down the line, I've a feeling.) I do think it's the closest thing we'll ever have to Dillinger telling the story himself. :dillingerhello:

I agree, RamblinRebel. It is the authenticity that excites me. And I do think that his keeping to the original account is what makes the book so special. Helmer didn't even correct Girardin's grammatical errors (If I remember correctly, he didnt like to capitalize).

Nebraska, I think I missed the explanation about the footnotes, too. Not sure if I eventually found them myself or if DITHOT brought them to my attention.

DITHOT, I hope that it's on my History Channel tonight. I must go check. Thanks for the heads up.



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 Post subject: Re: Dillinger Question #1 ~ Presentation
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 11:07 pm 
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I liked those little bits that let us know that this was history in the making...like when Girardin would say that this person was currently residing in whatever state penitentiary. Or that so-and-so was currently employed at... or any number of those present tense references.


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