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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Go Down Together ... by Jeff Guinn

"The true, untold story of Bonnie and Clyde." Thanks to a friend who gave me this book, I can say this book must be everything it claims to be. I never really wanted to know as much about the two gun-crossed lovers as Guinn packs into his deeply researched book, but now that I do, I can admit it was a case of my own assumptions.. that I already knew. What I already knew almost kept me from giving it a chance... having read a half dozen books about the subjects. This is by far the most thorough, and I think most trustworthy account you will ever read.

Congratulations to Jeff Guinn for a Herculean effort in finding those stones yet unturned in such a popular myth, and then making the rest of us care. You read his intimate account, hating what they did, but fascinated with their unfolding debacles and personal struggles, knowing full well where they are headed... and yet unprepared to let go of the enigmas which left a bloody trail over many states.

Bottom line, they were a couple of kids who grew up in a mean world and decided to go down fighting. Raised in religious families, they became wrapped up in injustices and frustrations and almost prayerfully entered a personal war on their perceived enemies. At some point, they knew it was just a matter of time until they were killed, and they chose to die together, taking many ill-prepared police with them in the process.

The famous Texas Ranger and Navasota's ex-City Marshal, Frank Hamer is written about in the book, more charitably than I have read by some authors, as he leads the hunt for them. Little did we know that a Louisiana Deputy pushed the panic button and fired prematurely and probably killed Clyde before the rest were given the signal to shoot. The grisly scene plays itself out much like you would imagine after that. You can read more about my research and artwork about Ranger Hamer at: http://russellcushman.blogspot.com/p/frank-hamer.html

Still, as their blood and body parts fall out of the car, you cannot forget the kid they met in the woods just hours before whom they offered gifts and friendship. Walking up on them as they hid in the woods, Clyde offered to give him a better gun to hunt with.

All in all, an awesome view inside the criminal mind - and just as important, a smelly overview of Texas Criminal Justice and its dirty laundry in those times.

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