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Book Review

MY LIFE WITH BONNIE & CLYDE

by Blanche Caldwell Barrow

Edited by John Neal Phillips
with a foreword by Esther L. Weiser
University of Oklahoma Press
October 1, 2004



Reviewed by Robin Jett
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Because of the famous 1967 movie and the plethora of books trying to explain them, Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker have become enigmas to history. Though foolish in their escapades and considered low-brow by the contemporary "super star" criminals, their story has merited attention unequal to their actual lives.

So if you want to read a real account of the outlaws, look no further than this memoir, written by Clyde's sister-in-law. Blanche Barrow and her husband Buck ran around with Bonnie and Clyde for almost a year before being captured in Dexter Park, Iowa, and Blanche sure has some stories to tell.

Clyde comes across as a man with an evil streak, and Bonnie is portrayed as rather hysterical and often drunk. Buck - whom his sister Marie Barrow Scoma called "mean" - was, according to Blanche, a gentle soul. W.D. Jones, Clyde's trusted sidekick, was an unwitting dupe. Blanche describes herself as a woman in love whose misfortune it was to love a man on the wrong side of the law.

Blanche wrote this account while serving time in a Missouri prison. Though she meant to have it published, the process of writing proved cathartic, and she allowed the manuscript to languish. Her friend Esther L. Weiser, who found the memoir upon Blanche's death, let another fifteen years slip past before contacting Bonnie & Clyde authority John Neal Phillips (Running with Bonnie and Clyde: The Ten Fast Years of Ralph Fults, University of Oklahoma Press, 1996). Selecting Phillips proved a smart move, because with his well researched insights into the crime duo and his attention to historical accuracy, Blanche's memories finally made it into print. With copious endnotes, which explain events and alert the reader to contradictions in Blanche's story, and lots of heretofore unpublished photographs, this book provides a thorough treatment of the Barrows' life on the lamb.

Robin Jett
January 26, 2005

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