The Year of Fear: Machine Gun Kelly and the Manhunt That Changed the Nation

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He had a reputation going all the way back to his bootlegging days as the most honest thief you'd ever meet. But although it was true he'd never killed anyone, the fact was he didn't need to. There were plenty experienced killers among the members he'd assemble into bank-robbing teams.

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If he needed a shooter, he could get one with a single phone call. The handsome couple in the front seat of the nondescript Buick were heading back to pick up their shiny new Cadillac roadster and were busy making bigger plans. First, off to Mexico to lie low and spend some of their recent earnings.

George spoke fluent Spanish and, along with his extravagant tips, he was a popular customer at the lavish beach resorts that Kit favored. Since his release from Leavenworth Penitentiary in February , Kelly had been on a tear, robbing banks at the rate of nearly one a month. The jobs were getting to be almost routine, but with the Depression dragging on, the take was getting smaller and smaller.


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Banks had less and less money in their vaults, and some were simply closing up shop and going out of business as panicked customers pulled out their cash. George had a feeling his real good thing was not going to last forever. Worse, the couple's lucrative sideline — running booze — looked like it would be drying up if the Democrats won the upcoming election and their gin-sipping candidate made good on his promise to bring the era of Prohibition to an end.

They were about to graduate into the burgeoning Snatch Racket that was about to become the latest calamity to afflict the country. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office in March , he inherited a surreal and almost unimaginable American nightmare. The country had become a cauldron of poverty, starvation and environmental disaster. A pervasive lawlessness infected nearly every city, town and godforsaken outpost in the forty-eight states he would need to rescue.

Since the Stock Market Crash of , almost 90 percent of its value had been lost. Much of the nation's upper class was wiped out. The ripple effects of those losses decimated the middle class and those less fortunate, as well.

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Average household incomes dropped by a third. Thousands of banks closed. Local and community banks foreclosed on nearly one million homeowners. Business failures and the collapsing real estate market deprived cities and states of tax revenue, which resulted in draconian cuts in the few social services that existed.

The Year of Fear: Machine Gun Kelly and the Manhunt That Changed the Nation

Municipal workers, police and teachers were laid off or went unpaid. Thousands of schools closed or reduced hours. Millions of students dropped out. The gross national product GNP had fallen to half its level.

Industrial investment dropped by 90 percent. Automobile production was down nearly 70 percent, as were iron and steel production and nearly every other industry that provided work for Americans. Sixteen million jobs had evaporated. The per capita income was lower than it was in the early s. John L. Lewis, head of the United Mine Workers of America, was not engaging in hyperbole when he asserted that the diets of most members of his union had sunk "below domestic animal standards.

The national unemployment rate, which was as low as 3 percent before the market crashed, pushed north of 25 percent.


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  • For non-farm workers it was almost 40 percent. In many cities it stretched as high as 80 percent. But those numbers masked the reduced hours and trimmed wages of the workers who managed to hang on. Those who couldn't walked the city streets in a daze looking for work, food or hope.

    And there just wasn't any. Proud men and women who populated the nation's cities — from the architects and engineers who designed them to the ironworkers and carpenters who built them — stood in breadlines for hours. Occasionally, they would form up into a mob and attack the food trucks that passed by making their deliveries. At night, a desperate few would organize raids on local grocery stores, kicking in windows and looting them dry before the police could arrive. The misery was even greater on the farms and ranches of the Midwest and Plains, where the Great Depression had arrived years earlier.

    The droughts that started in the late '20s continued unrelentingly into the '30s. During the war years, as Europe's farmland was incinerated and destroyed, American farmers had stepped up, increased production, expanded their acreage and fed the world. Extent pages. Isbn Library Locations Map Details.

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    Western Pocono Community Library Borrow it. Library Links. Embed Experimental. Layout options: Carousel Grid List Card. Include data citation:. Copy to clipboard Close. Cite Data - Experimental. Structured data from the Bibframe namespace is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4. Additional terms may apply to data associated with third party namespaces. Link Analysis Experimental. The Bonanno family was responsible for over thirty murders, even killing a dozen of its own members to enforce discipline and settle scores.

    He would be brought down by Salvatore "Good Looking Sal" Vitale, the underboss who was not only Massino's closest and most trusted friend, but also his brother-in-law.

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