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tv   Book Discussion on The Year of Fear  CSPAN  September 27, 2015 2:30pm-3:31pm EDT

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automatic weapon that speak freely without being arrested and is not in favor of big national government programs. >> conservatives and libertarians an agreement when it comes to the use of police, the use of terror watch etc. >> i think that is another flashpoint. domestically i am more with libertarians. some conservatives have embraced this rise on crime. some are suspicious of the government until there agents are involved, and suddenly there is a policeman who was enforcing all of these laws. now, i understand some of that is a reaction. we see too much. when a police officer does something wrong we indict all of them, and that is not liberal in my sense of the word, but equally there have been a lot of individuals
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wrongly accused. proceeding with criminal justice as they would in any other circumstance. fortunately come i think that's changing. libertarians are winning that argument for sure. >> what do they think? >> national review is an intellectually diverse place kevin williamson and myself still more libertarian. moreover conservative. and in this book i hope to present both arguments. i am not rude to anyone in the book. it is totally respectful. in a sense, it is a national idea. in that regard, they're should be something in it for everyone. >> charles cw cook is the author.
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this is book tv on c-span2. >> this is book tv on c-span2. television for serious readers. here is a look at our primetime lineup.
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>> our topic for the day is the year of fear, machine gun kelly, and the manhunt that change the nation. executive director of the national law enforcement museum in washington dc. he is an award-winning journalist with 25 years experience in the news business, part of the editing team that conceived and launched "usa today" in 1982 and held a variety of positions at the paper including senior correspondent, managing editor, and op-ed columnist recovered a variety of political and social issues. he served as supervising producer of the paper's in the kitty television production "usa today" on tv he led the team that conceived, designed and created the museum of news events in history located on pennsylvania avenue in washington dc and served as
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executive director from 1996 until 2011. the former chairman of the george foster peabody award the nations oldest award program for electronic media and currently serves as a member of the national advisory board has the college of media at the university of illinois alma mater. his journalism mars include words from the association of newspaper columnists. he won and any -- emmy award for news documentary that he wrote and coproduced. please join me in welcoming joe marshall to the national archives. >> thank you, doug. i must say, i am disappointed that there is no line for this event. had i known, what about my own.
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thankthank you all for coming out today. i appreciate you stopping by. i will try to refrain myself from droning on and on for too long so that i reserve time for questions if you have any. i think you have about 45 minutes time kemal and 30 minutes into this if you're feeling like you really have a question you would like to ask you can find me and i will talk about part of the program. i 1st would like to explain a little bit of how i got into this story in this book. as doug said, i came here in 1982 for the launch of "usa today". and very excited to be in washington. ii was taking in all the tourist sites, including the library of congress and is beautiful, stately reading them, and this is 1982.
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the library of congress i just converted its car cataloging system over to a digital database. which patrons could use when they were visiting. so kind of on a larka lark i went over to the computer keyboard and typed in my last name, which is fairly uncommon, or at least it was until baltimore ravens drafted john marshall. who is not only no more famous than me, but also a lot smarter. if you don't no anything about it, probably the only person in the nfl is working on his phd role-playing. the greatest collection of knowledge.
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andrew is charles urschel kidnapping victim, and there was one book written about it called crimes paradise, the authentic inside story of the urschel kidnapping. i call it up i sat down and read it cover to cover. it was the most remarkable story. it read like a novel, more twists and turns than you could possibly imagine command ii was just flabbergasted because i have never heard of this guy and basically i havei have not heard of any herschel's in the country really other than the ones i was related to. so after i read the book i called up my data, i read
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this incredible book about charles urschel, this oil millionaire in texas you get kidnapped in the 1930s. i'll be related to him? without a 2nd thought he said, no, we are not. how do you know? we are not. like any good son, i immediately set out to prove my father wrong. you know, i embarked on genealogical research and looking all over the country probably should not have met this at the archives, but i never did find a connection. there was no connection really that i could find within the united states. if there is any connection it dates back centuries to saxony college is not germany. so with that, i decided, well, it is still a good story and ii began collecting string on it over
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the last 30 years or so. and the more i learned about it the better the story got. it is an incredible story about the most, one of the most remarkable kidnappings in american history which produced the largest manhunt in the nation up until that time. the manhunt covered 16 states, 20,000 miles. it resulted in a sensational trial that was covered daily by the press from around the world and recorded on motion picture cameras and shown in movie theaters week after week. part of the sensational nature of the coverage resulted in federal trial banning cameras for the next probably 50 years. and even now they are only used on an experimental basis. and launched the fbi and gave their agents the nickname g-man resulting in
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the establishment of alcatraz is spread the passage of the federal crime bill 1934 which made kidnapping a federal crime punishable by death and greatly expanded the power of the fbi. allall of this was made possible by the remarkable cooperation of charles urschel, kidnapped victim. the story takes place in 1933 which is what i deem the year of fear. it 51933, 1933, we are three years into the great depression. it is probably the worst year, the worst economic
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consequences being played out across the nation as the economy sinks further and further. in the year since the 1929 crash the market had lost was 90 percent of its value. the unemployment rate was up to 40 percent. and in some cities is stretched as high as 80 percent. thousands of banks were closed, the loss of tax revenues necessitated taccone and cats. municipal workers,. municipal workers, police and teachers were laid off all went unpaid. thousands of schools closed, billions of students dropped out. at the same time, catastrophic dust storms from beginning to get across the southwest and midwest which later became what we refer to now as the dust bowl. incredible storms that would start in mexico are oklahoma or texas, and they blow so
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hard and so strong with so much find self at the people who live in the area would have to do things like drape their child's beds and carriages with white sheets just to prevent the silt from coming in and choking to death. kill livestock combo so far that it would turn the snow read in new england unable to see the skyline. >> you can see some of the effects of the -- what the stocks will do on local farms missingshe never said
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just assassinated for law enforcement officers in broad daylight in the parking lot of kansas city's union station. violent gangs of bank robbers and thieves operating with virtual impunity along with a call the criminal court or which stretched from dallas texas to st. paul, minnesota. anton cermak was assassinated, standing next to fdr and a political event when he was assassinated in miami. we now think that the assassination attempt was directed at fdr. at the time they thought that it was successful and indeed the victim. because he had just unseated fred thompson, the mayor of chicago, his criminal empire
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in chicago. they came in on about a rid the city of capone. the waythe way he was going to do that was to ally himself with another gang operating on the north side of the city. the palms so while this is all going on, prohibition is about to end. the elimination ofthe elimination prohibition eliminates one of the criminal empire's most lucrative sources of money. so with the banks drying out , the bank robbing businesses not as good as it
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used to be an prohibition coming to an end, they are looking for other ways to make money. what happens in the three years since the market failure is an incredible speed of kidnappings began occurring across the country an estimated 2,000 kidnappings occurred between 1930 in 1933 with their sideline business drying out, tt west were looking for knew ways to make money, and kidnapping wealthy individuals seems to be a good way to do it. a lady's operations would work has gone they would snatch wealthy individuals, hide them out across the state or county line where state police, county sheriff's could not chase
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them. they lose their authority once they are outside their municipality.municipality. so it was relatively easy to i out someone in a remote farm across the state line and then release them with the caveat that everything would be fine unless they go to the authorities. if they do get to the authorities picture was that we were returning kill you, not only you, but all the members of your family. the kidnappings kerch was working pretty well up until 1933. charles urschel, people in hollywood are driving around and armor plated limousines with armed guards in the passenger seat. companies were issuing kidnapping insurance. all this is going on fdr takes office and announces that we have nothing to fear
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but fear itself. at the very same time adolf hitler was appointed chancellor in germany. these are tough times in the us and with tougher times coming. so in the midst of this incredible scenario, george kelly and his glamorous wife decide that they are going to kidnap the richest oilmen in the southwest. and with an almost remarkable lack of planning kelly and his partner burst into the home at 1131, hot july evening when i shall and his wife are playing bridge with their friends. said kelly called the machine gun and dates on the 45 kick in the door, run-up
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to the bridge game and suddenly discover that they don't know which of the two guys is urschel. so making all kind of threats, they demand that urschel reveal himself, which he does not do. he sits there, and so does walter. and so they are getting increasingly belligerent and walter decides he will stand up and be a hero. he begins to stand up, at which point hershel begins to stand up, too. kelly says, okay. forget it. who will take both of you. a couple of miles out of town they realize that they could probably identify which one was commercial by him being from emptying their wallet. they stopped the car and get the wallet, take all of
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jerrod's money,yours money, give him tim buxtehude back to town and take off with social. they take them out to a farm owned by -- just outside of dallas on by catherine kelley's father-in-law, the guy known around town as boss. aside, broken down farm with a few animals or boss lives with his wife and son and his son's wife. so they stick urschel with a blindfold him, blindfolded the entire ride. they cover his ears with tottenham and for the next eight days he is basically blind and deaf changed to a high chair or bed frame. but nevertheless, he is the kind of guy who does not part with his money willingly and is bound and
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determined that if he ever gets out he will come back and find these guys and get his money back. c begins collecting information about where he is. he knows how long the car i took, but he also realizes that they were going in a separate us route designed to confuse him, but this is a guy who has been working as a career for a fellow named tom slick was known as the king of the wildcat is. so the end urschel have been finding oil all over oklahoma and texas and knew just about every inch of that territory backward and forward. so urschel, who grew up on a farm in the midwest realizes, of course, that he is on a farm, begins counting a number of different animals find out how many there are, how many milking cows there are all kinds of information on the farm itself. he walks the room, he is
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held in at various times he collects information from the people who are holding them about what other buildings around, how big the farm is, with the postman's name is, who the local prostitute is, and while he is doing all of this over the course of eight days, he realizes that at 9:30 a.m. and at 530 at night a plan is passing overhead. so he puts all that in the databank well he is leaving his fingerprints all over anyway you possibly can. in the meantime, his wife has collected the money for the ransom and has paid it off. and so at this point they are about to release herschel caps on kelly, who is really the tougher of the two characters, insist that they have got to kill him. and george, of course, is
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saying, no, we can't. if we kill him they will come after us with the us marines and we will never get away and who will be able to kidnap anybody else because arthur will be empty their plan was to kidnap five more people and handsome limit $200,000 each , eight to 10 million in contemporary dollars and retire as millionaires and juarez, mexico. everybody has got there dream, right? so that is -- that plan is eventually thwarted and they do release herschel who returns to his home in oklahoma city which by then of course is surrounded by hordes of breast around the world. motion picture cameras from israel photographers and
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various members of the bureau of investigation, j edgar hoover's group as well as some local police. herschel comes in and immediately is debriefed by an fbi agent known as gus jones who just listens to this data dump, and having started out telling him that finding his kidnappers would be like finding a needle in a haystack come after 90 minutes of talking to charles he said, well, we just got a really small haystack. so consequently, he borrows a planea plane from one of his oil friends that go up in the air and fly the route of the airline they have identified had flown, look down using hisa sketch of what he think the farm look like, identify a farm it looks exactly like the drawing, put together a raiding party.
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urschel insists that he be in the lead car with a sawed off shotgun, and in the middle of the night or early morning they burst in and arrest shands and a fellow named harvey daly who was staying at the farm hiding out after his escape from state prison in kansas. harvey daly is an incredible character in this book that i am just so fortunate happened to stumble in this story because it gives me all great side stories to tell. considertell. consider the most successful bank robber in american history and the guy who basically invented the modern form of bank robbing, which involves a lot of careful planning, determining the best escape routes, writing the escape
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routes commanding multiple backup plans, figuring out when there is the most money in the bank to be robbed by studying the local economy and the county tax records, with the police activity is like, how far away the police station is commode kind of car the police have if any, and basically if harvey was planning your bank robbery he was going to go well and noble was going to get it. part of his mo was the fact that he would never admit to having robbed a bank or try to take credit for anything. as a result he successfully rob the denver mint, the lincoln national bank of so much money that the bank failed the next day. he did so well in the 20s that by the late 20s he retired from the bank robbing business and open opened the series of
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destinations and car washes in jakarta the lost all his money in the market crash and had to go back to the business that he knew so well. so he had worked with george kelly on a number of bank jobs and, in fact, had let george a thousand dollars. after he heard about the kidnapping he went down to the farm to collect the money that george owed him and submersible and he sustained while escaping prison. hehe just happens to be sleeping in the backyard on a cot when gus jones and urschel arrived with their squadron of law enforcement. so even though george and catherine had already fled the scene, they had gone up to st. paul to launder the money. the fbi agents still score an important victory by
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pulling in harvey daly who is not only a bank robber but an escaped prisoner. so the rate is considered a huge success, and it arrives just in time for j edgar hoover, who in933 was not yet director of the fbi. in fact, he was barely holding on to his job. the investigation, as it was called, had been given the job of solving the lindbergh kidnapping and had done a fairly miserable job and had made almost no progress since the 18 months it happened. when fdr took office, his 1st choice for attorney general was a guy named thomas walsh, senator from wyoming. along and past history which edgar hoover.
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during theduring the harding administration hoover and the bureau had been instructed to besmirch both walsh and his fellow senator wheeler from wyoming. these two werethese two were trying to launch an investigation into the harding administration that would uncover some of the scandals that later evolved. j edgar hoover's job was to, well, he tapped his phone and that his mail and try to entrap him in a hotel room with a woman to get incriminating evidence on him, none of which succeeded , but it did succeed in making a lifelong enemy of mr. walsh who was announced by fdr as his 1st choice for attorney general. and after that announcement about to get rid of that miserable sop as soon as he got in the town.
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he was 72 years old and before he got to town he went down to miami and married a cuban debutante. on the train ride back to washington when the train stopped in north carolina walsh's wife woke up, but he did not. and subsequently the next attorney general is a guy named homer cummings one of fdr's brain trust who was originally slated to the investor of the philippines. cummings takes over the justice department and is one of fdr go getters and figures the way that he can raise the profile of the justice department which was held in fairly low repute at the time is your 1st to as the department of easy virtue. he decides that he is going to shift this place up and prosecute a war crime.
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fdr was prosecuting a war on this, that, everything, and he really likes the militaristic sound of that and wanted the fbi to break up basically his criminal how he and anything else he could do. so j edgar is under a lot of pressure at this time to bring in some big score, and it looks like machine gun kelly case could be the one. ..
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unfortunately, right at the peak of their oil business, tom slick at age 47, has a massive hart heart attack and dies. charles then mars his widow, forming the urschel slick oil company which is bigger then the pound slick company and that generates a lot of headline about how rich these folks are,
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and what their oil holdings entailed. all of this was the interesting reading that got katherine kelly thinking about kidnapping charles urschel. and urschel and slick, who had no great love for the press before the kidnapping, because they're always talking about their business affairs and oil finds -- suddenly as even more reason to despise them. so, charles goes into an alliance with j.ed -- edgar hoover and goes to the home where the kidnapping occurs, and hoover prosecutors a nationwide search for kathryn and george. the fbi had just been given the sole responsibility for chasing
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kidnappers across state lines. and so they were really the only organization that could bring this to fruition, but there were two problems they still had. one was the fact that they were not an armed police force. they were not trained in weapons, most of them were lawyers and accountants who would help local municipalities prosecute criminal investigations. so, hoover looked around his agencies across the country to try to find people who would be skilled enough to good up against machine gunners and shot-gun wielders, bank robbers and murderers and whatnot and discovered he has fewer than 12 out of the force of 336. so he puts to the guys together and puts this investigation in order, and it's run by the gus jones, who had worked in texas, kind of a legendary lawman, and
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this is a document produced by the bureau after the successful prosecution of the case, which they used to further demonstration their need for expanded powers. you can see all of the cities where they suspected the kellies might be and where they had tracked them. and in fact they had been in most of those places other than the ones on the west coast. one of the things they did was try to close the border because they thought they'd be leaving one way or another. not a bad assumption. this is another document produced by the fbi which just sort of mapped out the most prominent members of society who had been kidnapped. this is the famous melvin purvis, the special agent in
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charge of the chicago office. purvis is this agent who captured and killed john dillinger, bringing great fame to the bury. you however on the urschel case he let kelly slip through his fingers in chicago. the fbi had discovered that kelly was using a place called the michigan tavern as his postal address and a place where he would go and hang out and enjoy special protection from the local police. and he assigned purvis to stake out the michigan tavern and try to snatch him. but literally purvis just forgot to do it, and by the time he remembered he was supposed to do it, he sent two agents, but they never went inside, and on that very day, kelly was inside arranging to get a new automobile to escape to memphis, tennessee. this did not make the director
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happy, and you may be aware that melvin purvis left the agency a few years after all of these great events were occurring. so, ultimately, they chase -- after about six to seven weeks on the road, they find kelly in memphis, tennessee, and successfully arrest him. there he is walking out of the courthouse in chains. guarded by machine gunners. the fbi has now acquired quite an arsenal and they deployed them prominently during the trial and afterward. the interesting thing about memphis is that kelly started out in memphis, tennessee. he was a child of upper middle class parents. he was a cady at the local country club, a pretty smart
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kid. but he did not enjoy very good relationship with his father, whom he hated. and when he caught his father in a tryst with another woman, he basically blackmailed him and said i won't tell mom about this -- this is when he is in high school -- if you give me the family car and increase my allowance by x amount of money, which kelly then used his new transportation and money to hop across the border to arkansas, which was a wet state, tennessee was dry. and that's when he started his liquor-running business. as a young entrepreneur in high school. and things basically went downhill from there. here is kathryn and george in federal court. they look a little bloated from seven weeking on the road and going through three or four gin
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bottles a day, and kelly has already been pistol-whipped by the fbi, in the courtroom in view of all spectators, when he attempted to defend cath rbi from what he thought was an advance by an fbi agent. you can maybe see the knot on his forehead there from one of the wound he sustained. and this is alcatraz where he ended up. homer cummings and j. edgar hoover had a special contempt for the federal prison system, which they thought was too fluid to easy to escape from, too corrupted, too coddling of prisoners, whatever. and so they wanted to create a prison that nobody could escape from, that only the worst of the worst would be sent to. and there would be no attempt at
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rehabilitation. that would be solely for confinement. they would be cut off from the out world, not allowed to talk to one another. there was -- just a new special kind of hell for these 103 prisoners they deemed to be the worth in the nation. people like al capone, very are various american murders and thieves. so, george kelly ended up in the introductory class going to alcatraz prison, where he lives out most of the rest of his life, kathryn kelly was sent to a women's prison she managed to get out in the late '50s. harley bailey ended up with george on alcatraz. he is later released into state prison, and charles at that -- by that point had sort of softened on the whole affair,
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and he went to fdr and hoover and said, look, harvey bailee had nothing do with this kidnap ping. we ought to let him out. so he agrees to probation for harvey and sets him up as -- in joplin, missouri, with a job as a cab it inmaker and gets him a room at the ymca where he lived out the rest of his life without committing another crime. the urschels end up intact. they're fairly rattled. they spent the rest of their lives as -- running their oil business, set up a number of foundations, biochemical research foundation in texas, which is quite famous, but they didn't really feel all that comfortable in texas and the wild west anymore.
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spent a lot of time traveling through europe, collecting art. and lived happily ever after. but part of what charles experienced made him detest publicity of any kind, and so he instructed the rest of his family, and anybody that would listen to him, that you should never get any publicity whatsoever no matter what you have done no, matter how proud you are of it. you should remain as concealed as possible. otherwise bad things will happen to you. and that attitude was not only passed down to his children, but to this grandchildren as well, and to the grandchildren of everybody involved in this case, even though point where when i got around to finding them and trying to talk to them, they were very circumsuspect, and the
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circumspect, and the only way i got any cooperation from them is because of the same last name, and the fact that at some point we were probably related, and charles' granddaughter lives in texas -- i probably shouldn't tell you that -- was especially helpful ultimately, and we enjoyed some good chats and e-mails together, and she shared with me most of the things she had collected about the case. the other interesting thing about this case and j. edgar hoover, that while hoover was maybe not the best lawman in the country at the time, he did understand public relations and publicity. and he was just beside himself
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with hollywood because hollywood at the time was glamarrizing gangsters, basically. in 1930, the number one movie in the country was -- in 1933 -- was "scar face" starring james cagney. about a character based on al capone. almost said al pacino. >> hoover knew if he was going to be successful as a law enforcement agency he would have to create them as heroes help didn't want the gangsters to be the heroes. he wanted his agents to be the heros and personally went to james cagney and complained and said you ought to star in something that makes a hero out of the law enforcement officer, and basically at the time there was a big kind of public
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revulsion at these gangster movies that were growing increasingly violent, if you can believe that. so hollywood fearing there we be some kind of send sensorship impossessed by the government, created their own rating system. one thing the outlaw is gangster movies. they try to get the entire industry not to produce them. but hoover manages to get one caveat put into the code, and that is that if you're going to make a gangster movie, you have to have an fbi agent in it. and if you're going to have an fbi agent in your movie, j. edgar hoover has to approve the script. so in 1935, g-men comes out with james cagney as a fbi agent who
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solves a kidnapping, and there are three or four movies right after that with the same scenario, the same kind of fbi hero in it. nevertheless, this -- hoover did many more things, of course, he had his own publicist, guys writing magazine stories about famous cases, just a master at manipulating the message. unfortunately, george kelly didn't have such a publicity department on his behalf, and the stories that hoover put out about kelly took hold. basically hoover wanted to make "machine gun kelly" into the worse villain possible so catching him would be all the
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greater. so part of it is still -- the fbi lorre on the web site, you can read about it. one of the stories he spread was when they finally cored in machine gun kelly in memphis, he dropped his weapon and cowered in the corner and said, don't shoot, g-men, don't shoot. it didn't happen like that. if you want to know how it happens, you can read the book. anyway, that then became the brand for the fbi, they're g-men. they are to this day. so, as the years pass, the legend of machine gun kelly continues to grow, and rog are core -- roger carrman, the king of the b movie makers, decides to make a movie about him. and casts an unknown actor charges bronson, in the lead, and makes machine gun kelly out to be a psycho pathic machine gunner and kidnapper and just
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basically also living under the thumb of his domineering wife. so anyway, that is the image of machine gun kelly that persists to this day there are still songs written about him, movies made about him. james taylor's got a song about machine gun kelly, basically on that scenario. but it -- the case really in addition to all these other things that it spawned, it also proved the importance of branding and media manipulation. hoover's reputation, of course, soared, the first ten years he was in office, and then as you probably know, began to sour as the years went on. but nevertheless, he did create the fbi as a basically sort of the first national police force, and one of the most successful
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and modern at the time. and became the envy of the world. so i think i have droned on long enough, and if you would like to ask a question, since we are on c-span, please come to the microphone and speak clearly into it. yes, sir. >> two things. one, how much ransom did urschel pay, and the other question is, how did machine gun kelly get his name, reputation? did he actually kill anybody? >> okay. the ransom was -- they took the ransom money out of the oil companies' account, $200,000. and the second part of your question, how did he get his
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reputation? curious lit was created by both j. edgar hoover and kathryn kelly. george was a student of harvey bailey, and harvey's credo was, you have to stay under the radar. doesn't do you any good to shoot up a bank. this police come after you. don't want to hurt anybody because once you hurt member, that draws the law. so, george was trying to prosecutor his business in that fashion, and in fact he didn't like machine guns. he was kind of afraid of them. he liked to rob a bank with a concealed .38. one of this charming, hail fellow well met irishmen, went into the bank, incredibly well dressed. both he and kathryn were clothe horses, very concerned about their image and their fashion statements. he would walk in, open his jacket, show the about 38 and ask the ladies behind the count to just empty their drawers into the satchel and i'll be out of
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here with no problem. but that -- but kathryn was -- that wasn't good enough for kathryn. catherine wanted to be married to he most famous criminal in all of america so she started working on his reputation. she beaus him a machine gun at pawn shop in fort worth, then starts spready stories about hick at speak-easies all over fort worth and dallas, and she was in plenty of them. she would leave the spent shells behind and say that we've been down to the form and george has been working on his skills and he can shoot walnuts off a fence post or write his name on the side of a barn with his gun, and you'll be hearing a lot more about him. and so the police officerses down there, who had their eye on kelly and would hang around in these bars or speak-easies, they started pick upping on this stuff they were -- picking up on
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this stuff they were hearing about him, and when they first started chasing him, they discovered it was george kelly, the police in texas set up this profile and said he was a murderer and a expert machine gunner. and so that got on the wanted poster, and then that got into the press, and one thing led to another and suddenly we have this psychopathic machine gun kelly. in fact, to finish your question, he is not known to have killed anybody. he did admit to shooting one guard, wounding him in the shoulder, during a bank robbery, but that about all. he did participate in a number of bank robberies where people did get shot and killed, but when they would form if the bank-robbing gangs they would pull different people for different skill sets and really
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didn't recruit kelly in because of his viciousness or his skills with a weapon. they really liked him more for his skills behind the wheel. he had been a gin runner and bootlegger for almost 20 years. he knew all the back roads. he loved cars. he had a 1932 18-cylinder cadillac he had customized by al capone's maybe cappic so it could cruels at 100-miles-an-hour. you could never catch him once he was behind the wheel. >> this is before the mania for the second amendment. what were gun control laws like at this time and could regular people get a machine gun? >> yes, i'm not an expert on weaponry or the laws but there were almost no laws preventing
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individuals from purchasing any kind of gun they wanted. in fact, the crime bill that this case spawned did include language that restricted automatic weapons, likes machine guns, specifically to get at the machine guns that were used in the kansas city massacre at union station and the crimes that were reputedly committed by george kelly. >> yes, i think it what's following year, 1934, firearms act that outlawed submachine gun and sawed-off shot guns as a result of all this stuff going on. >> right. >> one question. and a comment. i understand that george kelly, when he was in alcatraz, was one of the few actual pen tent
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inside the penitentiary and actually wrote letters to urschel and other people that he victimized, saying nothing could be worth this. i'm so sorry. i'll bear this guilt for the rest of my life. is that true? >> that is absolutely true. he was a very literal man and he wrote not only the letter you're referring to, which is considered to be one of the best descriptions of what life is like behind bars ever been penned. and that is in the book. if you would like to purchase a copy and read the whole thing for yourself, but, yeah, he did -- he was constant letter writer, as are a lot of prisoners, but he was particularly well versed, smart, would refer to greek mythology in some letters, and he wrote hundreds of letters to kathryn that are just heart-rending love
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letters that will almost bring you to tears if not laughter. so, yeah, it was true. when he was incars rated at alcatraz -- incarcerated at alcatraz, a prison psychologist rate kelly extremely intelligent. kelly enrolled in correspondence courses from the university of southern california and had at competition going with albert bates, also at alcatraz, who could do better, and he was a voracious reader and would do anything he could to sort of deal with the isolation of prison life. >> and i'd like to beg your pardon but i think it was paul muni started "scar face." james cagney had been -- played a very similar role, also based on capone, 1931, in "the public enemy." >> you're right.
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>> anyway, it's a great talk. >> you know your film history. >> thank you. >> there are a lot of twists and turns. seems like a lot of the topics dealt with people who howard hughes -- did you have a howard hughes angle? >> huard hughes didn't make it in. i should look for one. is there? >> was he involved in making the movie "scar face." >> that don't know. >> he knew thomas slick and herbert hoover and was involved in the censorship. he was in texas, in oil, had to know urschel. >> urschel was an antive democrat -- active democrat and was looking for -- he had sent emissaries to washington to try to get fdr -- believe it another nor -- to bring some regulation to the oil business, to help
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protect the wildcatters who were being driven out of business by the big oil companies bag east, who were driving the price so low that nobody could make any money. anything else? well, thank you all very much for coming. [applause] >> folks, a reminder, there is a book sale one level at the archives poock store. so we'll meet you up there. >> i'll be happy to sign any copy with any kind of verbiage you would like.
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>> there's a story about the reagans i tell in the book that during the iran-contra scandal, ron reagan was visit his father and it was after dinner and they were in the west sitting hall, and but a her came over with a platter -- well, mom was telling his father how angry he was about the scandal, and kind of berating him, and all of a sudden he turned around and this butler was standing over his shoulder with a plate of cookies, and ron thought, oh, my god, this person has heard this whole -- this would make headlines and here i am attacking my father about the iran-contra, and his father said, don't worry about it's. it's fine.
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it's not that he is just a butler but he is there to serve and will not talk about this to anyone. so they have to trust, and if they couldn't trust the staff, live would be absolutely miserable. the only place where you can be alone on the second and third floor of the white house. so, i thought that was a really interesting story and interesting what you say, at some some first ladies want the second and third floor to be very pristine, like nancy reagan, and probably not to be bothered. and i think we can all relate to that in a way. >> you-watch this and other programs online. on sunday, october 4th, booktv lives with radio and television hot tom hartman on "in depth." mr. hartman author erred many books which focus on politics, american history and at the environment in his most recent book "the crash of 2016" he argues that corporate greed
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isoleading to economic depression, he alongs at the joologyal problems associate it with global warming and the american revolution of 1800, recount of thomas jefferson's election as president. mr. hartman's books include argue. s against corporate personhoods and the collection of essay's topics such as psychology, spirituality and environmentallity. tom hartman. you can take part by send are you questions on comments to, on twitter or call in. >> a suggest feature of booktv is our all-day coverage of book fairs and festivals from across the country with top nonfiction authors. hoarse our schedule:


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