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Bonnie And Clyde

by Paul Schneider
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
  • Publishing date: 31/03/2009
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780805086720
  • ISBN: 0805086722

Synopsis

The flesh-and-blood story of the outlaw lovers who robbed banks and shot their way across Depression-era America, based on extensive archival research, declassified FBI documents, and interviews

The daring movie revolutionized Hollywood?now the true story of Bonnie and Clyde is told in the lovers’ own voices, with verisimilitude and drama to match Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.

Strictly nonfiction?no dialogue or other material has been made up?and set in the dirt-poor Texas landscape that spawned the star-crossed outlaws, Paul Schneider’s brilliantly researched and dramatically crafted tale begins with a daring jailbreak and ends with an ambush and shoot-out that consigns their bullet-riddled bodies to the crumpled front seat of a hopped-up getaway car.

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow’s relationship was, at the core, a toxic combination of infatuation blended with an instinct for going too far too fast. The poetry-writing petite Bonnie and her gun-crazy lover drove lawmen wild. Despite their best efforts the duo kept up their exploits, slipping the noose every single, damned time. That is until the weight of their infamy in four states caught up with them in the famous ambush that literally blasted away their years of live-action rampage in seconds. Without glamorizing the killers or vilifying the cops, the book, alive with action and high-level entertainment, provides a complete picture of America’s most famous outlaw couple and the culture that created them.

Paul Schneider is the author of the critically acclaimed Brutal Journey, the highly praised The Enduring Shore, and The Adirondacks, a New York Times Book Review Notable Book. He and his wife, the photographer Nina Bramhall, and their son, Nathaniel, divide their time between Bradenton, Florida, and West Tisbury, Massachusetts.

The daring movie revolutionized Hollywood; Now the true story of Bonnie and Clyde is told in the lovers’ own voices, with verisimilitude and drama to match Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.

By means of extensive archival research, declassified FBI documents, and interviews, Paul Schneider has written a book that is strictly nonfiction?no dialogue or other material has been made up?and set in the dirt-poor Texas landscape that spawned the star-crossed outlaws. The dramatically crafted tale begins with a daring jailbreak and ends with an ambush and shoot-out that consigns their bullet-riddled bodies to the crumpled front seat of a hopped-up getaway car.

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow’s relationship was, at the core, a toxic combination of infatuation blended with an instinct for going too far too fast. The poetry-writing petite Bonnie and her gun-crazy lover drove lawmen wild. Despite their best efforts the duo kept up their exploits, slipping the noose every time. That is until the weight of their infamy in four states caught up with them in the famous ambush that literally blasted away their years of live-action rampage in seconds. Without glamorizing the killers or vilifying the cops, the book, alive with action and high-level entertainment, provides a complete picture of America’s most famous outlaw couple and the culture that created them.

"A nonfiction novel in the style of Capote's In Cold Blood . . . . Schneider's Bonnie and Clyde presents the story the way it might have been from the inside."?Allen Barra, Chicago Tribune

"Schneider gets much closer to his subjects in Bonnie and Clyde: The Lives Behind the Legend. Noted for his novelistic approach to nonfiction in such previous works as Brutal Journey, Schneider takes two big risks here. He writes throughout in the present tense and tells much of the story from Clyde's point of view in a startling second-person narrative: 'You're just shooting the trees to pieces over the guard's heads with your Browning automatic rifle? . . . God, that gun feels good. Rata rata rat.' This strategy makes Schneider's book extraordinarily immediate, not to mention lurid. Liberally quoting from eyewitness accounts (of varying reliability, he freely acknowledges in the endnotes), he excels at conveying the grungy texture of their lives."?Wendy Smith, Los Angeles Times

"A detailed history of the Barrow gang's short life . . . Bonnie and Clyde has extensive quotes to pull the reader into the action."?Simon Baatz, The Washington Post

"Bonnie and Clyde: The Lives Behind the Legend by Paul Schneider is the best thing I’ve read this year?it puts truer faces on the duo than Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway’s, and while taking nothing away from the immortal, classic film, adds layer upon layer of intrigue . . . Paul Schneider, 75 years after the couple was ripped to shreds by the bullets of the law, has stripped away the iconography, offering up a stunningly researched, immaculately constructed story of love, sex and sin, all in the words of Bonnie and Clyde and those who knew them, feared them, and had the misfortune of being caught in the cross-fire. As Schneider explains in his intro to the text, 'The following is a work of nonfiction in which nothing has been created out of whole cloth by the author and everything has a reasonably acceptable pedigree as a "fact."' Then, he adds, with a touch of humor, 'That said, some sources are better than others, a situation that is true for every work of nonfiction and is even more unavoidable in stories as rife with rumor and lacquered with legend as that of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow?all the reader needs to know is that no dialogue has been made up' . . . Schneider takes the ?cool” away, and shows Bonnie and Clyde for what they were: lovers, laughers, and cold-blooded murderers. His Bonnie and Clyde: The Lives Behind the Legend is a riveting triumph, and as eye-opening as the sight of Barrow’s corpse. They changed American culture, and died in the act, and for that, we’ll never forget them?whether we’d like to or not."?Christopher Schobert, The Buffalo News

"What distinguishes Schneider's book is the narrative voice for the biography of the two outlaws. Schneider's narrator switches between a third-person voice, which reports facts and describes the lives and scenes of Parker and Barrow, and a kind of loosey-goosey, slangy, second-person voice that puts the readers into the shoes, and minds, of Bonnie and Clyde, mainly Clyde . . . the story comes alive as Barrow tries to escape his family's hardscrabble pattern of sharecropper work, and Parker seeks to elope from the boredom of Depression-era Cement City and West Dallas. Schneider effectively weaves quotes from actual testimonies, letters and newspaper interviews into a fast-paced history that follows the desperate Clyde into and out of jail and prison and the couple deeper into trouble with each murder, stolen car, robbed bank, prison break and getaway. Schneider's second-person narrative especially is effective for the inevitable end of the run, as Bonnie tries to eat a sandwich while Clyde drives along a lonesome road eight miles south of Gibsland. The infamous couple may have died then, but their story remains on the loose."?David Hendricks, San Antonio Express-News

"If an amusement park spent millions on a Bonnie and Clyde adventure extravaganza, you would not get a more thrilling ride than might be had by reading West Tisbury resident Paul Schneider's latest book, Bonnie and Clyde, the Lives Behind the Legend . . . Mr. Schneider (The Adirondacks, The Enduring Shore, and Brutal Journey) conjures a very palatable desperation as well as the excitement of life on the run?a life with a limited future. His deft delivery will have the reader sweating along with Clyde and his gang, feeling the hunger, desolation, exhaustion, and the camaraderie among thieves. The story is like a Greek tragedy. There are no surprise endings in traditional Greek tragedy, and no surprise endings in Bonnie and Clyde. (Most of us have seen the 1967 movie starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.) But it is not the end, but the journey that makes this book worth reading . . . Almost immediately, Mr. Schneider sets the stage and mood with his mastery of descriptive prose. He moves between a narrative that at times seems to mimic those 1930 movie narrators?part third person omniscient vernacular, and an unusual second person omniscient voice that somehow puts you in the center of all the activity. Perhaps the most unusual and impressive aspect of this book is that every quoted personal conversation is comprised of words that were actually spoken or written about or by the people doing the talking. These quotes are referenced in 343 citations at the end of the book. Mr. Schneider's ability to rehash and synthesize massive quantities of data into an absorbing read is nothing short of masterful. Paul Schneider has written another winner. It may be his best book yet."?Tony Omer, The Martha's Vineyard Times

"When David Newman and I were writing the screen play for Bonnie and Clyde we did an enormous amount of research, but not nearly as much as Paul Schneider. And it has paid off handsomely; he has written a splendid biography of two iconic American gangsters who were 'not only outlaws, but outcasts.' From the first page, waiting for a prison break on a foggy morning in East Texas, to the last, the book is riveting and unforgettable."?Robert Benton

"Fast-paced account of the fast-lived lives of Mr. Barrow and Ms. Parker. In Arthur Penn's 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde, Faye Dunaway was a fine fit for Bonnie, who...


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  • Fascinating Read
    From Amazon

    Historically well researched book.Written from Clyde's point of view, at first I found it a bit irritating,but soon got into the flow of it and could hardly put it down.Anyone who cares about historical accuaracy will love this book.

  • And then Bonnie said......
    From Amazon

    I admit, I could not make it all the way through this book, so perhaps my review is a bit premature. The author has the misfortune of publishing the same year as a far superior book on the same subject, the bio by Jeff Guinn. This book is written as if the author actually thinks he can think like Clyde 70 years ago. There are multiple recreated conversations, childish observations and 'sound effects' and in general the book is written like a novel instead of a biograhpy/historical book. If that is what interests you (and when I was 16, I admit, I liked 'historical fiction' more than actual biography or non-fiction, well researched books) than this is the B&C book for you. Otherwise, look elsewhere. This is Bonnie and Clyde-lite, and they are subjects not designed for the frothy treatment.

  • I really tried
    From Amazon

    Not one to put down a book about a subject matter of interest, I nevertheless reluctantly quit this one. Although I don't normally have a problem with switching point of view or voice, I found myself fumbling through this book. Without a heading such as "Clyde", I read a couple of sentences into a section before realizing that I was back to Clyde's point of view, and then I had to restart the paragraph. This disruption eventually put me off and I gave up in annoyance. Also, I didn't feel too confident in the veracity of the thought processes of the characters, so I felt that I was reading more speculation than fact. With subject matter like this, it's hard to miss, but for me, this book was a miss.

  • Tough and Gritty
    From Amazon

    This book was written from Clyde Barrow's perspective, a different take on book writing. Uses slang terms that were popular in the thirties, but are out of favor today. Lots of details on the day to day events in their brief lives. Really opens your eyes to how the last few months of their live were spent running and hiding from the law. At times there were reduced to living out of their car, along an abandoned driveway, or in the woods. No provisions, no means to cook, and no shelter. Hardly seems fitting for bank robbers that are wanted across the whole US. And poor Bonnie. The last few weeks of her life were spend trying to recover from life threatening burns on her leg, causing it to retract and making her a cripple. Not a glamorious life at all.

  • Fascinating subject matter rendered dull and life-less
    From Amazon

    With BONNIE AND CLYDE: THE LIVES BEHIND THE LEGENDS Schneider accomplishes the nearly impossible -- he has created a book on the exploits of the Depression-era couple that is dull and uninteresting. Like many who will approach this book, I have read other accounts of the lives of Bonnie and Clyde and other '30's eras gangsters. Bonnie and Clyde's time on the lam with the law in pursuit is filled with exciting and fascinating incidents. But Schneider often gets bogged down in his own research veering off into tangents on the historical period or the most minor of characters, which time and again slows down his narrative. Rather than being compelling, Schneider's account proves to be less than accessible and surprisingly slow. The biggest problem is the book's literary conceits. Schneider strives to set his deeply researched biography apart from other accounts by giving it the spin of a non-fiction novel, which never allows him to insert the voice of the researcher, comparing and contrasting versions of events or explaining things cleanly. The most flawed concept is the insistence on referring to Clyde Barrow as 'you' throughout. Perhaps Schneider initially felt this devise would place the reader in Barrow's head. Instead it proves to do the opposite. It distances the reader from Barrow and from being engaged in the book. Since the perspective of the book jumps around from him using various research and old first-person sources, whenever we come back to Barrow as "you" it is jarring and clumsy. Many times Schneider has to bend sentence structures in pretzel knots to accomodate this devise, when, God forbid, "Clyde" or "Barrow" would have served so much more clearly and cleanly. I still feel like the best primary source on the lives of Bonnie and Clyde is THE TRUE STORY OF BONNIE AND CLYDE by Emma Parker (Bonnie's mother) and Nell Barrow (Clyde's sister) "Edited" by Jan I. Fortune. Originally published as FUGITVES shortly after Bonnie and Clyde's death. While the prejdices of the sources must be considered, Fortune did an excellent job retaining the voices of Barrow and Parker in the telling of the story, so that these many years later the story takes on a certain literary quality with the flavor of a folk tale being told to you. THE LIVES AND TIMES OF BONNIE AND CLYDE by E.R. Milner is a much more compelling and readable recent history of their lives. And MY LIFE WITH BONNIE AND CLYDE an edited autobiography by gang member Blanche Barrow also vividly pulls you inside the Bonnie and Clyde story in a way that Schneider's book fails to. Schneider' book contains many details and incidents I don't recall reading before and may therefore be of interest to others with an insatiable fascination with Bonnie and Clyde, but Schneider tried so hard to make this book interesting, he succeeded only in doing quite the opposite.

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