A Historical Framing of Bonnie and Clyde

A R T L▼R K

71S1yqJ5tsL._SL1360_On the 23rd of 1934, Dallas outlaws and robbers Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and Clyde Chestnut Barrow were ambushed by police and killed in Bienville Parish, Black Lake, Louisiana. Their exploits captured the attention of the American public during the “public enemy era” between 1931 and 1934 in the Great Depression. Though known today for his dozen robberies, Barrow’s choice of crime was robbing small stores or rural gas stations. The gang is believed to have killed at least nine police officers and several civilians.

Through the decades, many cultural historians have attempted to unravel the reasons behind the attraction Bonnie and Clyde held to public imagination. In The Lives and Times of Bonnie and Clyde (Southern Illinois University Press, 2003), historian E.R. Milner wrote that, to those who “consider themselves outsiders, or oppose the existing system,” Bonnie and Clyde represented the ultimate outsiders, revolting against an uncaring system. 

Milner…

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