- Associated Press - Friday, September 11, 2015

“The Year of Fear: Machine Gun Kelly and the Manhunt That Changed the Nation” (Minotaur), by Joe Urschel

Joe Urschel has written a compelling tale that looks at the turbulent year of 1933, and the narrative reads like the most nail-biting thriller imaginable - yet it’s all true.

The Dust Bowl was ravaging the Midwest and the Great Depression was hurting everyone across the country. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was getting ready to take over the presidency - and hopefully heal and repair the fragile nation. A man working for the Justice Department was on the verge of losing his job and needed a major case to restore his reputation. J. Edgar Hoover saw opportunity in the kidnapping of an oilman named Charles Urschel.

George “Machine Gun” Kelly and his wife, Kathryn, were known for robbing banks, but the money started to be in short supply. Prohibition was coming to an end, and the profits from bootlegging were drying up. The new method for obtaining lots of money fast was kidnapping, and the more famous and wealthy person taken, the more the family would be willing to pay for that person’s safe return.

Hoover and the FBI would become household names, and the criminals they would bring to justice would become infamous. Still, the apprehension of the Kellys on kidnapping charges is only the beginning of the story.

Urschel does an amazing job chronicling a time in history that was rough for those that lived it while making the events extremely readable. All history textbooks should be this fun and informative. Even experts of the period will find this book rewarding and might learn something new.


Corrects spelling of author’s name to Joe from Joel. Adds photo.

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