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Bonnie and Clyde: The Making of a Legend

Review

Bonnie and Clyde: The Making of a Legend

On one January night in 1930, a young Bonnie Parker met Clyde Barrow when he showed up to visit one of her friends at their house. It was love at first sight when the aspiring actress and writer Bonnie met eyes with the skilled and charming Clyde Barrow. The two were completely taken with each other, but their relationship was far from ordinary.

As their love for each other blossomed, so did their involvement with the law.

Bonnie and Clyde were criminals.

For four years, Bonnie and Clyde worked together fighting the law; causing chaos, committing crimes, and evading punishment while living a life on the run. Wanted for countless counts of murder, kidnapping and burglary, the two built up a lengthy criminal record, yet always managed to escape the punishment for it, avoiding their deaths on multiple strokes of sheer luck. Quickly, they became akin to legends, and society took note.

BONNIE AND CLYDE: The Making of a Legend by Karen Blumenthal helps to tell their story, of how two teenagers-in-love turned into some of the most highly wanted criminals in American history.

This book serves as a lovely introduction to one of America’s most infamous couples. Karen Blumenthal does an absolutely phenomenal job of explaining who Bonnie and Clyde were, both before they met and as a couple, detailing their life together and piecing together a coherent and exhilarating narrative out of accounts of their crimes from witnesses, family members and friends alike.

"This book is incredibly valuable not just because of the information it gives the reader, but because Karen Blumenthal is extremely invested in her work."

Karen Blumenthal illustrates just how this killer couple came to be, by taking us through the journey at the very beginning. Each chapter explains Bonnie and Clyde’s whereabouts and actions during a certain time in their lives, and in addition, each chapter also includes additional relevant information outside of Bonnie and Clyde’s crimes that connect to that time period. Several photographs are included in almost every chapter showing Bonnie and Clyde’s antics, their family members, or even their prison records, depending on the chapter. There are obituaries of the victims that Bonnie and Clyde murdered right after the description of the crime, and “Legend Has It” segments which detail some of the relevant rumors that had spread about the pair as relevant to the chapter. Personally, I think this extra information enriches the book like no other.

Not only is this book a great introduction to those wanting to learn a little bit more about Bonnie and Clyde, it is also incredibly well-researched. A list of sources along with several notes from the author about these sources and Bonnie and Clyde conclude this book, and Blumenthal actively encourages the reader to interact with her sources and to contact her through her website (www.karenblumenthal.com) if they had any questions about them. (There is even a discussion guide for this book located on the webpage as well!) There are some academic works I’ve read that don’t hold the encouragement that Blumenthal places in this work. This shows not only her commitment and enthusiasm toward telling Bonnie and Clyde’s story, but also to telling the most authentic version of it possible.

I also appreciate Blumenthal’s honesty and drive to get as close to first-hand accounts of Bonnie and Clyde’s crimes as possible. Many of the accounts surrounding Bonnie and Clyde are highly fictionalized and romanticized, or there are contradictions in several differing accounts to what really happened, and Blumenthal does, when she can, acknowledges some of the discrepancies in the stories and separates fact from fiction.

This book is incredibly valuable not just because of the information it gives the reader, but because Karen Blumenthal is extremely invested in her work. Her dedication to telling an accurate and informative story shows on every page.

The only thing that I wish this book expanded on was the impact of Bonnie and Clyde in popular culture and the impact they have on society today. The book is called BONNIE AND CLYDE: The Making of a Legend, and yet, I felt the discussion of the “legend” they created was a little lacking and implicit --- especially when some readers may not know why these two are a legend to begin with.

Overall, I think this is a comprehensive introduction to who Bonnie and Clyde were and why they are still remembered in society today BONNIE AND CLYDE: The Making of a Legend by Karen Blumenthal tells the story of this killer couple, taking the reader along for the ride as the author chronicles their story, their life on the run, and ultimately, their demise. I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in this couple or would like to know more about them.

(This book is recommended for ages 12 and up, but I will note that this book may not be appropriate for some readers in that age group. Bonnie and Clyde’s crimes along with their deaths are described in detail, so I would suggest a skim of the book itself to make sure it is appropriate for your child.)

Reviewed by Sheridan Nunnery. on September 12, 2018

Bonnie and Clyde: The Making of a Legend
by Karen Blumenthal

  • Publication Date: August 14, 2018
  • Genres: Biography, Nonfiction, Young Adult 13+
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0451471229
  • ISBN-13: 9780451471222