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Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of…

Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde (original: 2009; edição: 2010)

de Jeff Guinn (Autor)

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5042348,805 (4.06)61
An account of the exploits of Bonnie and Clyde explores the ways in which they captured the imaginations of people during and after their time, reveals the role of youth and luck in their two-year crime spree, and recounts the events that led to their deaths.
Título:Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde
Autores:Jeff Guinn (Autor)
Informação:Simon & Schuster (2010), Edition: 53750th, 480 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca

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Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde de Jeff Guinn (2009)


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Forget the movies, the novels that have been written about Bonnie and Clyde. Read Guinn's top notch work of nonfiction Go Down Together and you might agree that his well-researched as close as possible to the truth work is so much more exciting and rewarding than the sensationalist distortions of the media and entertainment industry. ( )
  nitrolpost | Mar 19, 2024 |
review of
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - June 14-28, 2019

For the full review go here: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/1125950-clyde-bonnie?chapter=1

I, like many people, might've 1st heard tell of Bonnie & Clyde when the Arthur Penn movie about them came out in 1967. It's unlikely that I witnessed this movie in a theater at the time because I was 13 most of that yr & had very limited access to theaters. There were none w/in walking distance of where I lived. Stll, I'm sure I saw it in a theater w/in a few yrs of its release. The Penn movie, starring Warren Beatty as Clyde Barrow & Faye Dunaway as Bonnie Parker, is mostly sympathetic to its title's characters & paints a romantic picture.

Guinn's biography is also sympathetic but tries to be more 'objective' & to take into consideration the people that the Barrow Gang killed. As such, the "Prologue" starts off w/ a tribute of sorts to a young motorcycle patrolman on his 1st day on the job:

"Up to the moment he was gunned down, this was a particularly good time in H. D. Murphy's young life. In twelve days he was to marry Marie Tullis, his twenty-year old girlfriend. They'd just found an inexpensive furnished apartment to rent." - p 1

Regardless of how one feels about police or criminals, the death of someone soon to start their married life is a tragic affair. Many people might feel this way about police but how many wd feel that way about criminals? At any rate, Guinn seems to try to examine Clyde's murders realistically. It's all too easy to oversimplify & to let sensationlist gossip get the upper hand.

"Of the seven men who'd died directly by his hand to date—he'd been erroneously blamed for two other murders—only two killings had been premeditated. The first was in 1931, when Clyde used a lead pipe to crush the skull of a fellow inmate who'd repeatedly raped him on a Texas prison farm. The second came six weeks before H. D. Murphy died outside Grapevine, when Clyde helped Joe Palmer murder a guard who'd abused Palmer in prison." - p 3

Naturally, I think that these 2 murders are highly significant insofar as they indicate how prison further criminalizes people. After Clyde was released he wd go to any lengths to never go back in again. He didn't go in a murderer but he certainly came out one.

One facet of this story that interests me is: Did Bonnie Parker ever actually shoot at anyone? It seems that the official police story is that she was a cold-blooded murderer &, therefore, deserved to be gunned down in an ambush. Other sources, closer to Parker, say she never shot at anybody. I tend to take it for granted that the police will lie to justify murder but I'm not so sure that friends & acquaintances of Bonnie Parker wd have such a clear-cut motive for lying about her not being the gun-toting killer she's reputed as being.

I've seen Larry Buchanon's documentary entitled The Other Side of Bonnie & Clyde (1968). In it, Barrow Gang associate Floyd Hamilton is shown being questioned about Bonnie & Clyde. Strangely, the scene is introduced by the interviewer saying that he's going to give Hamilton a polygraph test. That never happens. The person presented as being Hamilton is shown as saying:

Interviewer: "Did she participate in the robberies & the killings?"

Floyd Hamilton: "Only by being present."

Interviewer: "She, uh.. As far as you know, did she ever kill anyone?"

Floyd Hamilton: "No."

Interviewer: "She did not."

Floyd Hamilton: "No."

Interviewer: "Did they tell you about their robberies & killings when you met them on these country roads?"

Floyd Hamilton: "Well, after each crime was committed, gun battle or what you might call it, run-in with the law, we would question them, & they would tell us, in other words, their side of the story."

Interviewer: "& no-one ever said to you that Bonnie had participated in the shooting or that she ever killed anyone?"

Floyd Hamilton: "No." - The Other Side of Bonnie & Clyde

"Bonnie didn't mind having guns around. She just didn't want to shoot them." - p 165, GO DOWN TOGETHER

In Arthur Penn's movie Bonnie is shown shooting at the cops. Guinn partially discredits the media image of Bonnie Parker as a killer.

The footnote for page 152, Chapter 13, states: "W. D. Jones began firing wildly from the car: W.D. claimed in his confession that Bonnie did the shooting. In his interview with Playboy, he admitted that the whole time he was with Bonnie and Clyde, "she never fired a gun. But I'll say she was a hell of a loader."" (p 396)

In the notes to Chapter 15, it's stated that: "But the biggest question regarding the Joplin gunfight on April 13, 1933, is this: Did Bonnie Parker pick up a rifle and start shooting at the police from a window in the apartment? In her unpublished memoir Marie Barrow Scoma unequivocally stated she did: "Bonnie grabbed a gun and looked out the window down at the area immediately in front of the garage. She saw the police car parked there and saw one of the officers behind it firing into the garage. Bonnie fired at this man, but missed him."

"In Fugitives, Clyde's sister Nell says Bonnie told her she fired shots in Joplin, but this admission is part of another long, flowery monologue that sounds supiciously like something editor Jan I. Fortune might have embellished or invented for dramatic effect.

"Yet W/ D. Jones in his 1968 interview with Playboy was also definite: "During the five big gun battles I was with them [which included Joplin], she never fired a gun." Bonnie's mother, Emma, and sister, Billie Jean, were adamant that Bonnie didn't fire even one bullet from the time she met Clyde until her death." - p 398

"One particularly gregarious witness, who claimed to have watched the whole thing from his farmhouse porch several hundred yards away, swore that two men shot down the patrolmen, and then the woman with them fired more shots into the fallen Murphy while her victim's head bounced off the ground like a rubber ball." - p 4

Guinn makes the case that the witness made a false statement & that this statement helped create the media image of Bonnie as a killer.

"Bonnie Parker had been regarded as the sexy companion of a criminal kingpin. Overnight, she was newly perceived as a kill-crazy floozy who laughed as she finished off an innocent rookie patrolman and simultaneously ruined the life of the sweet young girl who'd been about to marry him. The vicarious love affair between Americans and the Barrow Gang was over." - p 5

Chapter 1 gets into the pre-history of Bonnie & Clyde, details of socio-economic misery that it's unfortunate that anyone shd have to live thru. The section that chapter 1 starts is prefaced by a surprising 1910 quote from former president Teddy Roosevelt:

"["]Now they face a new war, between the men who possess more than they have earned and the men who have earned more than they possess." - p 7

Indeed. Interestingly, there was an assassination attempt against Teddy Roosevelt by a man named John Schrank that I've written about in my review of James W. Clarke's American Assassins:

"["]While writing a poem, someone tapped me on the shoulder and said: 'Let not a murderer take the presidential chair. Avenge my death.' I could clearly see Mr. McKinley's features.
- John Schrank""


"Schrank purports to have a psychic experience that tells him that Teddy Roosevelt was behind McKinley's murder. Roosevelt's 1st stint as president was thru his replacing McKinley on his death. As such, it's not necessarily remarkable that Schrank would have a conspiracy theory regarding the murder (I've wondered myself) but that he would have a psychic experience that provided him with the theory! I mean, what do you make of that?!"


"The Spanish-American (Cuban/Puerto Rican) War keeps popping up. Teddy Roosevelt was one of its "charismatic heros" (read psychotic unprincipled mercenary). Not only was Schrank 'visited by McKinley to tell him to kill' the "Bull Moose", he wanted to kill him because he was running for a 3rd term of the presidency: "In Schrank's mind, breaking the two-term tradition was the first step toward dictatorship. Although pleading guilty to the shooting, Schrank explained that he did not intend to kill 'the citizen Roosevelt' but rather only 'Theodore Roosevelt, the third termer.' 'I did not want to kill the candidate of the Progressive Party,' he continued, 'I shot Roosevelt as a warning to other third termers.'" Hate to break it to ya, John, but when you kill the "third termer" you also kill the "citizen" that shares the same body. Putting such distinctions aside, though, I find Schrank's contention of third terming leading to dictatorship to be an obvious 'truth'. Fortunately, it's illegal now - or we'd probably have a member of the Bush Empire serving for life in every available high office. Despite Schrank's murderousness, he was apparently quite affable:

""Later when the panel of doctors announced their insanity verdict, the agreeable Schrank, shaking hands and thanking each, informed them that while he disagreed with their diagnosis, he felt that they had done their best. Similarly, as he was being transferred to the state mental hospital, he thanked the sheriff and a jailer for their kindness adding, 'I hope I haven't caused you much trouble,' 'Not a bit,' the sheriff replied. 'You've been the best prisoner we have had here since I have been in office.'

"As the train rolled across the wooded Wisconsin countryside en route to the state mental hospital, he was asked whether he liked to hunt. 'Only Bull Moose,' he replied wryly.""

- https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/...

The families of Clyde & Bonnie were, what else?, Christian.

"The Bible was replete with reminders that Jesus loved poor people a lot more than he did rich ones. Wearing patched clothes and sometimes not having enough to eat were, in effect, evidence of personal godliness. The implication was obvious, if not declared outright: poor people were good, rich people were bad." - p 14

Maybe that's one of the reasons why televangelists have such an easy time bilking their followers.

Clyde, aka "Bud", & his family lived in absolute poverty. This wasn't b/c of laziness, it was b/c of failed farms & greedy banks. For some people, for MANY people, no matter how hard you work you're stuck at the bottom. As much as people are in denial about this, it takes money to make money & all those privileged people born w/ silver spoons & nest eggs are going to thrive while those born w/o are going to crash & burn. So why does anyone fucking wonder why people turn to crime? If they want to get out of the death-trap of their class, crime looks pretty damned good in relation to working some low-paying job from here to infinity. So here are the kids playing:

"And the roles Bud inevitably chose for himself were outlaws. He was Jesse James or Billy the Kid." - p 16

Clyde's father, Henry, was practically the archetypal working-entirely-too-hard-for-too-little kindofa guy.

"So each morning he hitched up the horse and took his wagon over the bridge into Dallas, where he spent the day picking up scrap metal of any kind and hauling it to nearby foundries, which for pennies on the hundred pounds bought the scrap to be melted down. It was a hard way to make a meager living." - p 25

"Everything about Dallas excited fifteen-year-old Clyde Barrow.

"The city dazzled him with its endless stream of possibilities. Unlike tiny Telico, if you wanted to go to the picture show, you could choose between dozens of films instead of just one. Some Dallas theaters changed features four times a week, and not long after Clyde arrived for good in 1925, silent movies began gradually giving way to talkies." - p 29

I remember when I was born people were still black & white & silent.

"Clyde Barrow might love all the fine things in Dallas, but Dallas didn't love him back. As a useful worker bee he was tolerated, but that was the extent of it. In Dallas and all across America, the mid-1920s was a time when social and economic standing was rigid: you stayed where you were born. That was certainly true in Clyde's new job. Almost as soon as he figured out a dollar a day didn't go all that far, he also realized he had nearly reached the peak of his earning potential. The rich people he worked for were glad to have him as a line employee, but he would never be a manager. That was for his social superiors." - p 32

Have things changed that much now? In the 21st century? 90 yrs later? Pittsburgh is rife w/ nepotism & croneyism. The spouse of a well-placed administrator will advance in record-time while someone much more qualified will go nowhere slow.

"Clyde Barrow wouldn't settle for make-believe. The teenager who always had to be in charge wouldn't accept that in Dallas he had no control over his own destiny. He was willing to work hard to have a better life in the city. He'd grown up in the country, where there was minimal social stratification. In rural farm communities, everybody wore the same clothes, went to the same dances, interacted on a more even basis. Now he was locked into a system intended to permanently separate the haves and the have-nots. There was no doubt which category he belonged to, and Clyde's frustration gradually festered into anger." - p 33

& isn't that what CLASS WAR is all about? Unscrupulous rich people not only controlling resources but also controlling other people's opportunities, closing other people's lives in more & more. Revolting against being trapped by vampires is a healthy natural response.

"Some perceived the couple as despicable hoodlums with no respect for human life and property. But to many others, they were heroes. True, they robbed banks and shot it out with lawmen, killing some in the process. But in 1933 bankers and law enforcement officials, widely perceived to have no sympathy for decent people impoverished through no fault of their own, were considered the enemy by many Americans. For them, Clyde and Bonnie's criminal acts offered a vicarious sense of revenge. Somebody was sticking it to the rich and powerful." - p 175

In the Arthur Penn movie, Bonnie & Clyde, Bonnie is shown as passionately trying to initiate sex w/ Clyde to wch he responds in an asexual way. Clyde is shown as having an unspecified sexual problem wch he eventually resolves. In GO DOWN TOGETHER the reader is told that an ex--girlfriend of Clyde's, from before Bonnie, sd this:

"Decades later, asked about long-standing rumors suggesting that her infamous former beau was either gay or impotent, she assured the interviewer that Clyde "didn't have any problems at all," and left no doubt that she spoke as an authority on the subject." - p 36

That, unfortunately, was before Clyde had been repeatedly raped in prison. That's the sort of reality that most people, perhaps fortunately, don't have to think about. Just like they don't have to think about the lives of people like Clyde Barrow's parents & their family:

"Cumie and Henry didn't approve of stealing, but they were loyal to their son. When Buck's trial was set for late January 1929, his parents decided to go to San Antonio to lend whatever moral support they could, and possibly by their presence influence the judge to show leniency. It was 275 miles from West Dallas to San Antonio, and the Barrows couldn't afford train or even bus fare. Henry hitched up the horse and loaded Cumie, L.C., and Marie in the wagon. Tookie Jones, Cumie's best friend in the campground, came along, too, bringing her youngest sons, W.D. and Leroy. They left without even enough money to buy meals. The trip took almost three weeks. Every few days along the way they would stop and hire out at roadside farms where cotton was being picked or some other field work needed to be done. Marie recalled how, during the trip, her father's fingernails were literally ripped off by prickly plants. All seven of them got down in the dirt and worked, though ten-year-old Marie was excused after the first day when her cotton sack contained as many twigs and leaves as fluffy bolls. When they were paid for their labor, they used the money to buy inexpensive food for themselves and feed for the horse. At night, Cumie cooked potatoes and pots of beans over a campfire. They slept under and around the wagon." - pp 38-39

Keep in mind that this was January, 1929, & not a century earlier. If you don't understand that people are forced to live in conditions like this thru no fault of their own then you're really out-of-touch w/ reality. Bonnie's upbringing was somewhat easier but she was hardly a spoiled bourgeois:

"After years of predicting she'd be a famous star on Broadway, or perhaps a renowned poet, she was still a nobody in the Dallas slums." - p 44

Notice that Bonnie Parker had creative aspirations — & why not? Her poetry's more important to me than Emily Dickinson's ever will be — regardless of the latest feminist rehistoricization of Madeleine Olnek's 2018 Wild Nights with Emily in which the completely pampered rich poet who never had to work for a living or do much of anything other than write her poetry is shown to us as somehow sensitive to the plight of the black people who probably never ventured into her rich neighborhood as anything other than servants if even as that. Cancel Culture such as Wild Nights with Emily depict all men as fools but Dickinson's privileged lifestyle was pd for exclusively by such foolish men. Even Emerson is presented as a mumbling idiot &/or drunk but I think I'd choose Emerson's articulateness over Dickinson's any day. The film was designed to convince the audience that Dickinson wasn't a reclusive crackpot. I went to see the film b/c I like her poetry & am interested in her life. I never thought of her as a 'crackpot'. I left the film thinking she was a crackpot, contrary to the filmmaker's intention.

The point of the above digression is that much time & money has been spent on praising the genius of Emily Dickinson b/c she was privileged & can, therefore, be used by other privileged women in Call-Out Culture as an icon to make the pampered poodles into somehow being 'victims' — in other words, people who live in glass houses throw stones from the safety of a smoke screen. Bonnie Parker was dirt poor & worked, at 1st, for a living; Emily Dickinson was filthy rich, & never worked for a living EVER. They were both poets. Parker was murdered by the police state in her early 20s. Dickinson died of natural causes late in life. The Police State exists to protect the rich, people like Dickinson. Parker doesn't seem to get much respect as a poet, Dickinson is fodder for all sorts of glory — including having her mansion be a museum to her memory.

"And that was the problem for Bonnie. Most of her dreams had to remain fantasies. The grandest of them—singing in Broadway musicals, acting in Hollywood movies, writing best-selling volumes of poetry—were virtually impossible, even if she refused to accept it. Broadway and Hollywood producers didn't scout for talent in Cement City. Publishers didn't seek out the next Emily Dickinson there. Perhaps, with her dedication to endless self-promotion and a degree of talent, she might become a star if she went to California or New York, but Bonnie wasn't going anywhere. She had no money to make such a trip, let alone to live on while she made the rounds of auditions." - p 48 ( )
  tENTATIVELY | Apr 3, 2022 |
4.25 stars

Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker (later known as “Bonnie and Clyde”) both grew up extremely poor in the slum of West Dallas, Texas. They both loved their families very much and visited as often as they possibly could, even while on the run. They knew they would die young, likely violently. They stole fancy cars, and robbed some small banks and small stores and gas stations, which really only gave them enough money for food and gas. They had very little left over, and mostly had to sleep in “their” car. When they had extra, they often brought it to their families.

I knew nothing of Clyde and Bonnie beyond their names and that they were criminals/gangsters on the run in (I thought) the 1920s (it was actually only for a couple of years in the early 1930s). This book was so well-researched. I feel like, if it’s not (it might already be), it should be the go-to book about the two of them. Their crimes did mostly start off as robberies and stealing cars, but in their haste to not get caught, there were shootouts and people got killed. There were a few other murders thrown in that weren’t part of shootouts, as well.

It was slow to read, but nonfiction often is. That being said, it was fascinating and I was interested all the way through. Now, there were multiple confrontations and shootouts, so I did get a few confused toward the end, and some of the criminals who came and went from the “Barrow Gang” also got a bit confusing, but overall, this was really good. There was also a section of photos included in the middle. ( )
1 vote LibraryCin | Apr 23, 2020 |
I read this book for my book club, so it isn't something I would normally have read. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I knew so little about Bonnie and Clyde that almost all of this book was a learning experience. I got a good feel for what the pair was really like. I feel like the research behind this book is solid, especially based on the sources listed at the end. My impression of these two young people who chose short lives of crime is much more realistic than it was before I read this book. In many ways, the press hasn't changed much since the 30s! They still write what sells, even if it is embellished. ( )
  hobbitprincess | Apr 22, 2020 |
Turns out that a lot of things I thought I knew about Bonnie and Clyde were not true. They were not a tall and handsome couple like Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. They were also not very smart-both of them spent some in jail and for Clyde that was some hard time. I guess that old adage is right: crime does not pay.

I started to list here all the things I learned from this book, but then I realized that would be spoiling things for everyone else. I decided I'm just going to stick to the main points:

They were not smart criminals. They were repeatedly jailed, chased, shot at, etc... They were often injured in these gunfights with police and when I say injured, I mean badly hurt. They were great at stealing cars though, and Clyde liked the Ford V-8's so much he wrote Henry Ford a fan letter about them.

They loved their families and made arrangements to see them often: which just illustrates how clueless and unprepared the law was for fugitives like these. They didn't stake out the houses of Clyde or Bonnie's mothers or their other relatives, until near the very end. If only they had done that, many lives could have been saved.

Clyde and Bonnie loved lavishing their relatives with money and gifts, (when they could), and they both liked to dress nicely. That was about the only luxury they could enjoy, because they were almost always on the run, never able to relax or enjoy themselves. Most of their robberies netted them so little in the way of booty, they were hardly worth the trouble.

Lastly, they truly did love each other. When Bonnie's leg was badly injured, (due to a car chase and subsequent wreck where battery acid leaked all over her), Clyde forever after carried her wherever she needed to go. Bonnie's poetry and writing all showed that she knew they would both come to a bad end, but she loved him and wanted to be with him, even in death. So, I guess that one part of the Hollywood myth is true.

I listened to the audio version of this book. It was detailed, but not too much, and the narrator even added a little humor when the time was right. I learned a lot. Recommended! ( )
  Charrlygirl | Mar 22, 2020 |
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Americans have a long tradition of celebrating our antiheroes, from Jesse James to John Gotti. Rarely, however, have we embraced as rancid a pair of ne’er-do-wells as the bumbling Depression-era stickup artist Clyde Barrow and his girlfriend Bonnie Parker. As Dallas-based robbers of drugstores, super­markets and the odd bank, Barrow and Parker were aimless, clueless and utterly ruthless. About the only thing they did well was shoot people, which Clyde and his partners attempted often, murdering at least 10 men.
adicionado por cpandmg | editarNew York Times, Bryan Burrough (May 7, 2009)

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Jeff Guinnautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Hogan, JonathanNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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In memory of Max Lale, an historian who inspired me, and in honor of Cissy Stewart Lale, a mentor and friend who still does.
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An account of the exploits of Bonnie and Clyde explores the ways in which they captured the imaginations of people during and after their time, reveals the role of youth and luck in their two-year crime spree, and recounts the events that led to their deaths.

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