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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 12:45 am 
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I'm choosing to repond first then read all the posts.
I'd say yes. However, when I was reading the book, I was well aware that I ate up the words about the "criminals", but found the text about the FBI guys, all their antics and footnotes a bit on the boring side.
So like Parlez, I don't remember much about "the other side".

Cajun Kitty



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 12:50 am 
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Another thought here:
The War on Crime. . makes me kinda laugh. when I think of a war I think of a lot of men, masses of them, attacking each other. I sure didn't get that out of Burrough's book. . . maybe from Hoover's viewpoint was it a war. . but how many crime guys ( girls ) were there? A handful.
Sounds like a government title, huh! :-/

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 3:47 am 
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gemini wrote:
Parlez I didn't think to wonder myself, but I like your point that the title left you to decide who where the Public Enemy. If he had that in mind I will have to give him a lot more credit.

Well now I want to ask him another question.

Charlene, if you go to their website they consider July 26, 1908 to be the beginning of the FBI, regardless of the fact that the word “Federal” was not included in their title at the time.

http://www.fbi.gov/libref/historic/history/origins.htm

I'm finding all of your answers to this question quite fascinating and thought-provoking. I think I need to think on them some more.




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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 3:07 pm 
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Parlez wrote:
fansmom wrote:
Huh. I wonder, then, why the title of the book is what it is.

You could almost say the title lets the reader draw their own conclusion about exactly who the 'Public Enemies' were, the gangsters or the FBI? The way the untrained, desperate agents played fast and loose with public safety, allowing innocent people to be put in harm's way and not paying particular heed to the legality of what they were doing in any given situation - well, a case could be made for the subjects of said title going either way.
I've read a little about Hoover before the FBI. In 1919-1920, he lead the Palmer raids, a series of mass arrests against suspected Communists. Thousands of people were rounded up, some of them with no more reason than that they were of Russian or Geman origin. There were allegations of torture, of gross violations of civil liberties, of illegal search and seizure, of illegal wiretaps, of a "wholesale violation of civil liberties.". And Hoover got away with it.

Sounds a little too familiar.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 3:14 pm 
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Quote:
pg xiii – Burrough writes in the Author’s Note:

“Above all, this is a book about how the FBI became the FBI. The files allowed me to pursue one of my central aims: to reclaim the War on Crime for the lawmen who fought it. Men like Charles Winstead and Clarence Hurt, the two agents who killed Dillinger, have long remained anonymous, even as movies are made about the murderers they hunted.”


In your opinion, does Burrough accomplish his goal?


I'm going to say yes, I think Burrough did accomplish his goal. Even though the story really centered around all the public enemies, the thread that ran throughout the entire book, effectively tying all the stories together, was how the FBI grew up. From the first wet-behind-the-ears-gunless-college-graduate fumblings to the group of men who were able to end the lawless sprees of the gangsters, Burrough shows how the FBI learned to do its job, mostly through mistakes and slip-ups -- but they learned.

We still don't know all that much about the individual agents, other than the few big guys, but we did at least learn their names...and in the footnotes, we did get to get a bit more info about them. It makes sense that their individual stories wouldn't be expanded in the book, though. They were, after all, men whose careers were infiltrating crime and hunting down criminals. Their lives wouldn't be an open book -- it could be very detrimental to health and career.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 5:20 pm 
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fansmom wrote:
Parlez wrote:
fansmom wrote:
Huh. I wonder, then, why the title of the book is what it is.

You could almost say the title lets the reader draw their own conclusion about exactly who the 'Public Enemies' were, the gangsters or the FBI? The way the untrained, desperate agents played fast and loose with public safety, allowing innocent people to be put in harm's way and not paying particular heed to the legality of what they were doing in any given situation - well, a case could be made for the subjects of said title going either way.
I've read a little about Hoover before the FBI. In 1919-1920, he lead the Palmer raids, a series of mass arrests against suspected Communists. Thousands of people were rounded up, some of them with no more reason than that they were of Russian or Geman origin. There were allegations of torture, of gross violations of civil liberties, of illegal search and seizure, of illegal wiretaps, of a "wholesale violation of civil liberties.". And Hoover got away with it.

Sounds a little too familiar.


:-O Interesting, but not surprising!



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 9:14 pm 
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Very much a little too familiar. :censored:



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 10:05 pm 
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nebraska wrote:
And the question may also be "were the old ways better?"

I keep thinking about an earlier comment that these rural gangsters attended one room county schools when they could and they all could read.

Today mr nebraska and I drove past a rural school on our way to an appointment - but this rural school has been closed and swallowed up by the larger school district.......mainly for the tax money the district can gain by absorbing the smaller district. This rural school was the refuge for kids who didn't make it in the large district, a place where the teacher/student ratio was lower even if the teacher had more than one grade level in her room, where the staff/student ratio on the playground at recess was low enough to ensure safe monitoring. People CHOSE this district for their children because it had a lot to offer.......Now those students are forced back into a larger school -- because we are now in the modern enlightened time. Similarly, when a criminal is arrested, he now gets to go through a legal maze (technicalities?) financed by the public defender/penal system tax dollars of people like myself and mr nebraska who get up and go to work every day to try to make the world a better place. Is this really progress? If a prisoner needed medical care such as mr nebraska has received in the last week, who would pay? Or is it better to put an end to it and be done with it.......I have some very mixed feelings about this issue.

I am sure there are a lot of gray areas, BUT...........when I read PE, and I realized that there weren't years and years of legal hair splitting and thousands of dollars spent on a guilty man, I really thought maybe we hadn't really made true progress........

Sugar, running and ducking and looking for cover

You don't have to run for cover, I'm a lousy shot. :lol:
I take it by old ways you mean shoot first and not go to trial. I have to agree when you think of the cost of people on death row and all their legal appeals, it makes you wonder. I then think, if one of my family was the victim, and I would surly agree.

Then I get to reasoning and remember how many mistakes have been made that we have found and figure whats more important a persons life or money? Even if our legal system stinks its better then being wrong when you can't go back and say ooops I'm sorry.



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 11:36 pm 
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The beauty of the system is that in our society we are able to have the debate at all. We have come a long way since the 30's and I would love to time travel back to the here and now in about 100 years and see what modern sensibilities would be in vogue. I'm sure we would be shocked just as the people of the 30's would be to see where we are today.



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2008 12:25 am 
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The discussion has wandered waaay off topic, IMO. I hardly think Mr. Burrough's goal was to make a case for the death penalty, or to even inspire a debate on what should be a dead issue in an enlightened society. However, I will only say that here in the great state of Colorado they recently released Timothy Masters, who was serving a life sentence (at the taxpayers' expense) for a murder it turns out he didn't commit. Twenty years after the fact. Was it worth the cost to keep him alive? :censored: yes!



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2008 1:21 am 
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Way off topic, Parlez. BUT I just have to add that things have come a long way baby in the criminology field. Back in Dillinger's time, there was no such thing as DNA testing. I don't know what evidence was used to convict Masters, but maybe 20 years ago they didn't have the technology to prove or disprove his particular crime. How sad that someone could be wrongly convicted of such a crime. Seems like the ultimate nightmare. How wonderful that his conviction was overturned if he did not commit the crime. :cool:

Let's see......what was the question? Oh yes--Burrough's goal in writing the book.



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2008 7:40 am 
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Liz wrote:
Way off topic, Parlez. BUT I just have to add that things have come a long way baby in the criminology field. Back in Dillinger's time, there was no such thing as DNA testing. I don't know what evidence was used to convict Masters, but maybe 20 years ago they didn't have the technology to prove or disprove his particular crime. How sad that someone could be wrongly convicted of such a crime. Seems like the ultimate nightmare. How wonderful that his conviction was overturned if he did not commit the crime. :cool:

Let's see......what was the question? Oh yes--Burrough's goal in writing the book.


And maybe the discussion is not completely off topic because Burrough has certainly made us aware of the differences in the 30s and now, the difficult beginning days of the FBI to our current law enforcement system.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 1:50 pm 

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I think Burrough did what he set out to do; the FBI is definitely the protagonist in this tale - but I certainly don't mean that they are the heroes, their Macchiavellian behavior disallows that as far as I'm concerned. Burrough does a fine job of navigating us through the Bureau's evolution (its character arc, so to speak!), we are shown the primary agents involved as individuals, warts and all, and even minor players get their due (but ok, I admit it, the criminals' escapades were the more exciting read!). Burrough's epilogue was fantastic.

I'd be curious to know if Public Enemies was Burrough's first choice of title, or whether his publisher thought that was a good catchy name...

I have to say I really appreciate the detailed footnotes, endnotes, and bibliographical info (often the best part of a book, because it leads into new frontiers!). I recently read a book on a related subject which obviously entailed loads of research, but the author included NO bibliographical info. Boogles my mind!

And ladies of the ONBC - thanks for a great discussion! I've been gone far too long - had forgotten how much fun this place is!



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 8:08 pm 
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I agree that he did reach his goal, but I suspect he was more interested in the public enemies.

To be sure, the agents, despite whatever rough and ready justice they dispensed, were brave men, and their goals were worthy. It was a remarkable accomplishment to transform a government agency is so short a time.

Maybe the appreciation of the agents' work is tarnished by Hoover's reputation.



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 8:44 pm 
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Thanks, neophyte. It was good to have you back for a discussion too. We hope to see more of you 'round these parts! :cool:

stroch, that is a very good point about the Bureau being tied to Hoover's reputation. I know I have always thought of Hoover as the FBI which is not fair to those that did their jobs and never received recognition.



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