Go Down Together: The True Untold Story of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow

I’m just finishing Go Down Together, by Jeff Guin, a biography of the short, and according to the author, inept criminal lives of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.

To sum it up quickly, Barrow grew up in poverty-stricken West Dallas, which is where he met Bonnie Parker.  Barrow took to petty theft and especially auto theft at a young age and was more or less in trouble with the law for the rest of his short life.  Perhaps the seminal influence on him was time he spent at Eastham Prison Farm in Texas; this is where Texas sent the most hardened of criminals. 

While there, Barrow was repeatedly sexually assaulted by another inmate.  Barrow would kill him by cracking his skull with a length of pipe and another prisoner, who was in for life, agreed to take responsibility for the killing.  When Barrow got out of prison, he vowed never to return, and he lived up to that vow, being gunned down along with Bonnie Parker on the morning of May 23, 1934 in Louisiana.  They were ambushed by 4 Texan officers and 2 Louisiana officers who fired 130 rounds into their stolen Ford.  So they indeed went down together.

While Bonnie Parker was present at more than 100 felonies, she took part only as a getaway driver, although her reputation at the time, and some photos that the law discovered, showed her as a gun-toting, cigar-smoking aide to Barrow.

The gang does appear to have been mostly inept, committing a string of mostly minor robberies of gas stations and stores, a few bank robberies, and dozens and dozens of stolen cars.  The chief result of these felonies was the trail of blood left behind, including several lawmen who ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Sad story. Sad book.  Sad, wasted, and useless lives.

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