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Download Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34 Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34 Audiobook, by Bryan Burrough Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,009 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Bryan Burrough Narrator: Campbell Scott Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2004 ISBN: 9780743539913
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The astonishing true story of America’s first and greatest “War on Crime.”

In Public Enemies, Bryan Burrough strips away a thick layer of myths put out by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI to tell the full story of the most spectacular crime wave in American history, the two-year battle between the young Hoover and an assortment of criminals who became national icons: John Dillinger, Machine Gun Kelly, Bonnie and Clyde, Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, and the Barkers.

In 1933, police jurisdictions ended at state lines, the FBI was in its infancy, and fast cars and machine guns were easily available. It was a great time to be a bank robber. On hand were a motley crew of criminal masterminds, sociopaths, romantics, and cretins.

Bryan Burrough has unearthed an extraordinary amount of new material on all the major figures involved—revealing many fascinating interconnections in the vast underworld ecosystem that stretched from Texas up to Minnesota.

But the real-life connections were insignificant next to the sense of connectedness J. Edgar Hoover worked to create in the mind of the American public, using the “Great Crime Wave” to gain the position of untouchable power he would occupy for almost half a century.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[A] riveting true-crime tale…fascinating…the real story, it turns out, is much better than the Hollywood version.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “A rollicking yarn whose prose bounces across the page like a getaway car through a wheat field.” 

    Newsweek

  • “An amazingly detailed true-life thriller that puts us on a stakeout alongside the feds, inside the banks while bullets fly, and inevitably, next to the criminals’ bloody corpses.” 

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “This book compellingly brings back to life people and times distorted in the popular imagination by hagiographic bureau memoirs and Hollywood.”  

    Publishers Weekly

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • One of the 2004 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Aaron | 2/19/2014

    " Interesting, but very detailed and at times a bit too slow. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Edgeley | 2/18/2014

    " I initially loved this book because of the true life nature of the stories. About half way through I wanted it to end! Maybe I just got bored! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katha | 2/7/2014

    " Very interesting but a slow read because of all the names, places, and dates to keep up with. The pictures and maps in the front of the book are a very helpful resource. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mike Macdonald | 1/31/2014

    " Awesome! Thorough and precise. An amazing read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christy | 1/25/2014

    " Interesting read, but tough to follow. They follow a lot of plotlines (all true), but there's just too much going on at once. If you can't read this in a week or so, don't. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linda Appelbaum | 1/21/2014

    " This was amazingly interesting! Who isn't interested in those gangsters of the 30s like Bonnie and Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd, Machine gun Kelly and others? What a fascinating time in history! This book explores all the bad guys and the formation of what became the FBI and all the fumbling mistakes they made trying to capture these bad guys. I learned so much and it was a fun book to read! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sowande' | 1/19/2014

    " Wanted to read before I saw the movie...it certainly reads page after page like a high speed chase! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ashlee | 1/16/2014

    " Hard read... It was pretty boring.... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Martin Kilkenny | 1/14/2014

    " I wish the movie was this good..... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jenni | 1/12/2014

    " Very informative book, a lot of interesting information in one place. Presented in a cut/dry kind of way; unfortunately not the most entertaining book to read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chuck | 1/8/2014

    " I loved it, much better than the movie, which was good "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nocheevo | 12/18/2013

    " Quite a thorough look at the early days of the FBI and the "war on crime"/ depression era crooks periods. It does get a little dry in some points with the detail and the overlapping narrative regarding the various gangs but I found it a lot more enjoyable that the film (loosely) based on the book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joseph Weathers | 12/11/2013

    " Fascinating and well written history of 1930's crime and gangsters. Reads almost like a novel, yet as far as I can tell is very true to the historical record. (Warning: some language) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gene | 12/7/2013

    " Read this book before the movies comes out! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jonathan | 10/18/2013

    " A jackpot of information that clears away the years of falsehood and myth about these times. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gina Marcelin | 10/4/2013

    " Entertaining. Stories about people we know about events that have never been told. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anne Billson | 5/10/2013

    " A great read. Shame Michael Mann's film was so rubbish. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brian Chamness | 5/1/2013

    " Great read for history/crime buffs. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Keith Bowden | 8/1/2012

    " Fascinating coverage of the crime wave of early years of the Great Depression and the formation of the FBI - including some early stupid mistakes on the G-Men's side you wouldn't expect even amateurs to make. But this was all new at the time. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Adam | 4/14/2012

    " Awesome. Much more intriguing than the movie. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Krisette Spangler | 12/20/2011

    " Excellent history of the famous bank robbers of the 1930's. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Scott | 10/4/2011

    " Found it fascinating that so many characters could be real and roaming the alleys and dirt roads at the same time. Insightful towards the rise of the FBI and a look at the seam of the fabric of society and what it causes. Are we our own worst enemies. Do we create criminals? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 TJ Norris | 8/7/2011

    " Very interesting history revolving around the creation of the modern day FBI, the John Dillinger gang, Bonnie and Clyde, and the Barker gang. There was quite a bit I didn't know about the "war on crime". Fascinating, quick read for any one with a penchant for bank robbers and gangsters. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Takipsilim | 8/6/2011

    " Thrilling page-turner on law and crime in hard-times America. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shaun | 6/19/2011

    " This is the interesting tale of the beginnings of the FBI and of the criminals who were big in the 1930s. Bonnie & Clyde, Baby-face Nelson, John Dillinger, among others. This book describes their crimes and how they were pursued and eventually taken down. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christy | 4/20/2011

    " Interesting read, but tough to follow. They follow a lot of plotlines (all true), but there's just too much going on at once. If you can't read this in a week or so, don't. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tricia | 2/22/2011

    " Addicitve, never thought I'd find the Great Depression era so interesting! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Scott | 2/19/2011

    " I really enjoy reading books on the late 20's and early depression era 30's. Especially dealing with crime and the organization of America's federal police force. This book is very thorough and paints an amazingly intricate portrait of 1933-1934. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 *Laura* | 2/6/2011

    " I picked this up because I loved the gangster stories - but it was hard for me to get through. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Adam | 2/2/2011

    " Awesome. Much more intriguing than the movie. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karen | 1/6/2011

    " In depth history of gangland wars of the thirties. Listening to it in the car and it's great like that. It would be a little dry for me to read as a print title. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lorenz | 11/16/2010

    " One of the best books i have ever read. I thought i already knew a lot about Dillinger, baby face nelson etc. but this book definitely proved me wrong. It is not only informative but very entertaining as well. "

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About the Narrator

Campbell Scott has, in addition to his numerous stage and film credits, narrated more than forty audiobooks, including This Boy’s Life and Into Thin Air, and won seven AudioFile Earphones Awards.