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John Dillinger Slept Here: A Crooks' Tour Of Crime And Corruption in St Paul, 1920-1936

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"Paul Maccabee's John Dillinger Slept Here is not just one of the best books ever written about Minneapolis-St. Paul, it is one of the best books of local history I have ever read -- about any city anywhere on Earth. While writing Public Enemies' I kept it on my desk at all times. I daresay one cannot call himself a real Minnesotan if you haven't read it. The book is just "Paul Maccabee's John Dillinger Slept Here is not just one of the best books ever written about Minneapolis-St. Paul, it is one of the best books of local history I have ever read -- about any city anywhere on Earth. While writing Public Enemies' I kept it on my desk at all times. I daresay one cannot call himself a real Minnesotan if you haven't read it. The book is just that darned good." --Bryan Burrough, author of Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and Birth of the FBI, 1933-34, the basis for Public Enemies, the movie starring Johnny Depp This book is based on more than 100,000 pages of FBI files and wiretaps, prison and police records, and mob confessions. Interviews with 250 crime victims, policemen, gun molls, and family members of criminals bring these public enemies to life. Crime historian Paul Maccabee takes you inside the bank robberies, gangland assassinations, and police intrigue of St. Paul's 1920s and 1930s gangster era. You'll also find Crooks' Tour maps and more than 130 rare FBI, police, and family photographs.  "An engrossing story of a veritable Rogues Gallery of criminals, including Ma Barker and Machine Gun Kelly. An exciting and comprehensive study of St. Paul gangland based on extensive research in FBI records, John Dillinger Slept Here is good history and fascinating reading." - Prof. Hubert Nelli, author, The Business of Crime. "A delightfully written chronicle of gangland crime as it happened in the 1920s and 1930s, filled with diligent research and insight. Highly informative - my father would have enjoyed it!" - Bruce Barnes, son of George "Machine Gun Kelly" Barnes.


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"Paul Maccabee's John Dillinger Slept Here is not just one of the best books ever written about Minneapolis-St. Paul, it is one of the best books of local history I have ever read -- about any city anywhere on Earth. While writing Public Enemies' I kept it on my desk at all times. I daresay one cannot call himself a real Minnesotan if you haven't read it. The book is just "Paul Maccabee's John Dillinger Slept Here is not just one of the best books ever written about Minneapolis-St. Paul, it is one of the best books of local history I have ever read -- about any city anywhere on Earth. While writing Public Enemies' I kept it on my desk at all times. I daresay one cannot call himself a real Minnesotan if you haven't read it. The book is just that darned good." --Bryan Burrough, author of Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and Birth of the FBI, 1933-34, the basis for Public Enemies, the movie starring Johnny Depp This book is based on more than 100,000 pages of FBI files and wiretaps, prison and police records, and mob confessions. Interviews with 250 crime victims, policemen, gun molls, and family members of criminals bring these public enemies to life. Crime historian Paul Maccabee takes you inside the bank robberies, gangland assassinations, and police intrigue of St. Paul's 1920s and 1930s gangster era. You'll also find Crooks' Tour maps and more than 130 rare FBI, police, and family photographs.  "An engrossing story of a veritable Rogues Gallery of criminals, including Ma Barker and Machine Gun Kelly. An exciting and comprehensive study of St. Paul gangland based on extensive research in FBI records, John Dillinger Slept Here is good history and fascinating reading." - Prof. Hubert Nelli, author, The Business of Crime. "A delightfully written chronicle of gangland crime as it happened in the 1920s and 1930s, filled with diligent research and insight. Highly informative - my father would have enjoyed it!" - Bruce Barnes, son of George "Machine Gun Kelly" Barnes.

30 review for John Dillinger Slept Here: A Crooks' Tour Of Crime And Corruption in St Paul, 1920-1936

  1. 5 out of 5

    Erik Rivenes

    I was lucky enough to meet Paul Maccabee just as he was promoting this book in the early 90s. This is a spectacular trip through the 1920s and 30s back alleys of the Twin Cities, following the both infamous and not so well-known criminals who plied their trades in what was then a criminal haven for both Prohibition and Depression-era gangsters. Maccabee has an engaging, easy-to-read writing style, and the vast amount of research he was able to do is evident in the scope of the work. What I espec I was lucky enough to meet Paul Maccabee just as he was promoting this book in the early 90s. This is a spectacular trip through the 1920s and 30s back alleys of the Twin Cities, following the both infamous and not so well-known criminals who plied their trades in what was then a criminal haven for both Prohibition and Depression-era gangsters. Maccabee has an engaging, easy-to-read writing style, and the vast amount of research he was able to do is evident in the scope of the work. What I especially appreciate are some of the interviews he managed to get from some of the old-timers involved in the events of the book, in many cases just before they passed away. An extraordinarily enjoyable read, and I recommend it to everyone fascinated with the Midwest bank-robbing era especially.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Addison

    This book is exhaustively researched and is mightily impressive for that reason, Unfortunately, it is also very poorly written. Maccabee has no feel for how to organize his facts. I do recommend John Dillinger Slept Here, certainly, if you are interested in the history of St. Paul, because it is impeccably researched and it is full of fascinating details. It also does give a vivid sense of how wide and deep corruption ran in St. Paul during Prohibition and how vital an effect that had on the care This book is exhaustively researched and is mightily impressive for that reason, Unfortunately, it is also very poorly written. Maccabee has no feel for how to organize his facts. I do recommend John Dillinger Slept Here, certainly, if you are interested in the history of St. Paul, because it is impeccably researched and it is full of fascinating details. It also does give a vivid sense of how wide and deep corruption ran in St. Paul during Prohibition and how vital an effect that had on the careers of Prohibition-era gangsters.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Bania

    Although filled with detail and extensive source citation, the book was a rough read due to Maccabee's choppy structure of the timeline. The rise and fall of St. Paul as a haven for gangsters happened in a relatively short period of time and it seemed difficult for Maccabee to weave the myriad of events into a cohesive read. Tip: check out the Crooks' Tour back of the book first. It contains basic street maps of the Twin Cities with numbers indicating specific events.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Harris

    An exhaustive and interesting treatise on the world of organized crime in St. Paul during the 1920s and 1930s, there is probably no resource that collects as much information on the subject in publication. Drawing from extensive research of court records, newspapers, and other resources Maccabee pieces together the corrupt and vivid underworld of St. Paul in which cops and criminals coexisted in the Twin Cities. Due to the influence of an early Saint Paul police chief, John J. O'Connor, who prov An exhaustive and interesting treatise on the world of organized crime in St. Paul during the 1920s and 1930s, there is probably no resource that collects as much information on the subject in publication. Drawing from extensive research of court records, newspapers, and other resources Maccabee pieces together the corrupt and vivid underworld of St. Paul in which cops and criminals coexisted in the Twin Cities. Due to the influence of an early Saint Paul police chief, John J. O'Connor, who provided safe haven for people wanted in other cities in order to spare the city from crime (a situation which worked well for several decades before a final violent breakdown) bootleggers, racketeers, and bank robbers from around the country moved in to plan their business, left alone in exchange for bribes and promises to the authorities. Maccabee follows the careers of a rogues gallery of gangsters and freelance criminals who called St. Paul home, including lesser known powerful figures like "Dapper Dan" Hogan, Thomas Sawyer, Nina Clifford, and Leon Gleckman, as well as such famous figures as the Barker-Karpis Gang, and the titular John Dillinger. Among the most interesting aspects of the book are the detailed locations of the bars, apartments, hotels, and clubs where they hung out (as well as the locations of shootouts, murders, kidnappings, and other events), some of which still exist in St. Paul, which makes it great for history tours. However, "John Dillinger Slept Here" focuses so specifically on its subject that it does not speak much about greater historical trends, such as Prohibition or the Great Depression, in Minnesota or nationally, that influenced the role of St. Paul in the American criminal element. It can also be difficult to keep track of the dozens of minor criminals and hangers-on who populate many of the criminal escapades, though the extensive appendices and maps are very helpful. As background material on this period of history in the Twin Cities, though, "John Dillinger Slept Here," is an indispensable resource.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    Interesting - it definitely would be more fun to read while in St. Paul as the book is half a "mostly just the facts" review of the gangster years in St. Paul, and half a guidebook. During the first 2/3 of the years on which the book focuses, St. Paul didn't have a lot of problems with bank robbings and such. The author make the insane claim that this was because of St. Paul police policy: "don't mess with our city and we will not bother you if you use St. Paul as a sort of safe house - and chip Interesting - it definitely would be more fun to read while in St. Paul as the book is half a "mostly just the facts" review of the gangster years in St. Paul, and half a guidebook. During the first 2/3 of the years on which the book focuses, St. Paul didn't have a lot of problems with bank robbings and such. The author make the insane claim that this was because of St. Paul police policy: "don't mess with our city and we will not bother you if you use St. Paul as a sort of safe house - and chip in a little money to our pockets while you are at it." He then makes up all sort of stories about how this house was rented by this gang, this club was a gangster hangout, this police chief was bribed and 100% corrupt, thwarting ever FBI attempt to catch killers lounging about the city. This is just crazy. Clearly St. Paul was unscathed for so many years because of its superior moral fiber and toughness - Karpis, Dillinger, Barkers, et al. just knew they would be gunned down if they messed with St. Paul's citizens, who were not partial to being terrorized passively. However, I did not realize to what extent the virtues St. Paul citizens possessed were localized in the city limits proper; I always assumed that these were virtues shared by others in the upper Midwest. But no: the gangsters robbed and kidnapped with impunity everywhere else in this region, even in Minneapolis - which had the nerve to throw guilt on St. Paul as if the latter was responsible for the former being an evil vile cesspool of crime, which it still is, I might add.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    Loaned to me by my uncle, this is not the kind of book that I would ordinarily pick up to read on my own. However, I did find it rather interesting to learn that the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul were havens for some of the most notorious underworld figures in history. I felt that the book was trying hard to find a new angle on reoprting of Minnesota's ganster past, but because of that, it lacked a cohesion that might have kept my interest a little better. Just as I was finding a narrat Loaned to me by my uncle, this is not the kind of book that I would ordinarily pick up to read on my own. However, I did find it rather interesting to learn that the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul were havens for some of the most notorious underworld figures in history. I felt that the book was trying hard to find a new angle on reoprting of Minnesota's ganster past, but because of that, it lacked a cohesion that might have kept my interest a little better. Just as I was finding a narrative interesting, it seemed to zoom to the end and then on to another criminal. The "selling point" to the book is the listing of the addresses where certain crimes occurred with the intent that those interested would walk/drive around the Twin Cities to see these locations. Interesting, but not engaging.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Markus

    Paul Maccabee's John Dillinger Slept Here is a well researched and well written book. I could not put it down. However, I will admit that because I live in Minneapolis, I may be biased. I would recommend this book to anybody interested in gangsters or the history of the Twin Cities. I do have two critiques. Due to all of the information presented, the last chapter or two felt a little redundant. Also, Maccabee declares confidently that Capone was behind the St. Valentines Day Massacre. It is my u Paul Maccabee's John Dillinger Slept Here is a well researched and well written book. I could not put it down. However, I will admit that because I live in Minneapolis, I may be biased. I would recommend this book to anybody interested in gangsters or the history of the Twin Cities. I do have two critiques. Due to all of the information presented, the last chapter or two felt a little redundant. Also, Maccabee declares confidently that Capone was behind the St. Valentines Day Massacre. It is my understanding that that is the overall agreement, but it has never been proven. If Maccabee does not mention that the facts are unclear in this case, how many cases described in the book does he write about with too much confidence?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Erik

    I liked this book, however I can tell you it is not really meant to be read as a novel, but more like a guide. For example, I actully read chapter 9 before any of the rest of the book and it made no difference what so ever. At times it can be hard to keep track of all the names and places presented in the book, even for someone who is somewhat familiar with the characters. It is an entertaining guide to crime in St. Paul, a good reference for anyone who may want to take a drive and see the place I liked this book, however I can tell you it is not really meant to be read as a novel, but more like a guide. For example, I actully read chapter 9 before any of the rest of the book and it made no difference what so ever. At times it can be hard to keep track of all the names and places presented in the book, even for someone who is somewhat familiar with the characters. It is an entertaining guide to crime in St. Paul, a good reference for anyone who may want to take a drive and see the places that still stand today or enjoys reading short sections or chapters about the men and woman of the "gangster age".

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cff223

    I went to the university of St Thomas, and during my academic years, I took many geography and urban geography classes. I am sad that this book did not make 'the cut' as a guide to urban development or how local history has shaped its community. Would be interesting to incorporate in an urban development/geography class. Well researched and amazed how I used to live by the majority of these historical landmarks. I have always love books that accurately and historical describe the places I have l I went to the university of St Thomas, and during my academic years, I took many geography and urban geography classes. I am sad that this book did not make 'the cut' as a guide to urban development or how local history has shaped its community. Would be interesting to incorporate in an urban development/geography class. Well researched and amazed how I used to live by the majority of these historical landmarks. I have always love books that accurately and historical describe the places I have lived. This one could be the best one I have read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    A fascinating read, especially for residents of St Paul. I have been to, or passed by many of the addresses mentioned in the book. For heaven's sake, my senior prom was at the Federal Courts Building. And while I knew that there was corruption and bootleggers in St Paul during the 1920's and 30's, I had no idea the extent of the corruption and crime. The book outlines the birth, growth, and death of the lingering O'Connor system and the gangsters that lived under that umbrella.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    Interesting and highly detailed history of the height of the gangster era in St. Paul. Highly recommended for readers looking for local history of the Twin Cities and surrounding region. The author goes very broad, rather than deep, so there lots of detail but you don't really get a very complete picture of who most of the better known gangsters were. But if you're looking for an intro to this time period (which I was), this is an excellent choice.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne

    This is an intimate look at corruption in Saint Paul in the gangster era of the late 20's and early 30's. As a Montana transplant, I wasn't familiar with the seedier side of Saint Paul's history. Several years ago I took"The Gangster Tour". It was very interesting. The tour includes visits to many of the gangster haunts and apartments add well as the sure of the Hamm's Brewery and mansion. This book includes many photos and copies of newspaper articles.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Theresa Malloy

    The gangster culture in the Twin Cities is fascinating. It looks at the gangster heyday in St. Paul the city became a safe haven for some of the nation's most dangerous criminals. A lot happened near St. Thomas. I also found the journalist angle interesting. The St. Paul Daily News was vocal about the corruption and led a risky campaign to expose what was going on.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Michele

    I enjoyed the local history aspect of the book and found it to be an interesting read. I'd be interesting to take the gangster tour of MSP sometime, but not sure if I'm up for shelling out the money.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    Contains all kinds of historical photos and detailed information on the St Paul area during the 20's and 30's. I used this as a reference guide to many of the locations where my grandfather and great grandfather worked and lived during the era.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Chessa

    I'm a big fan of Boardwalk empire so I really enjoyed St. Paul's history.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    This book was awesome. But I'm probably biased because I live in the Twin Cities and work in downtown St Paul at the MHS library--which holds all of Maccabee's research materials.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    And now for the lighter side of global terrorism... What We Are Not Being Told: 1. It Takes a Pillage to Raze a Child

  19. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Loved it. I will never look at St. Paul the same way again.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    Interesting stories of all the crime and gangsters in St Paul. Anyone interested in the history of the Twin Cities would find this fascinating.

  21. 5 out of 5

    April

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rancidcain

  24. 4 out of 5

    Samson Natal

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brian Finander

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stacy

  27. 4 out of 5

    Julie Madden

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jeana

  29. 4 out of 5

    Amy Gustafson

  30. 5 out of 5

    Christa Edlund

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