Sunday, September 13, 2009

Go Down Together by Jeff Guinn-- Sensational Fodder Does Not a True History Make

Among the flood of comments exchanged, within the Bonnie and Clyde historical community concerning Go Down Together-- Jeff Guinn's revisionist account of Bonnie and Clyde History, many remarks have been "pointed"-- more so perhaps than comments made among the general public. This may be true, because more casual observers of Bonnie and Clyde-- may not possess all the facts necessary, to make informed judgments regarding their favorite outlaw history.

Those who know me, know me to be polite but direct-- and I will be here. Having commented at length, regarding Jeff Guinn and his latest "true crime" offering so much over the past year or so-- I feel in actuality, I may have written this review nearly a dozen times. However for those who've asked me for an "official" look at Jeff's book-- here it is. Many of my comments here concerning Go Down Together are newly composed, with some recounted from past writings-- which I've found hard to improve upon. Even more detailed statements from myself and others, concerning this less than factual "True Story"-- can be found here on The Bonnie and Clyde History Blog as well as on the Boodles message board. I along with many, hope these comments will be widely viewed-- as it's important for an "historically" based commentary of Go Down Together, to reach people interested in B&C. Many reviews of this work have been nearly glowing, and conclude with "pats on the back" praise. Not this one.

First let me say, I differ from most who've reviewed Go Down Together-- The True Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde. I am not a full or part time book reviewer for any news or Internet outlet. And frankly, I'm not much concerned with how "good a read" Go Down Together is. If I had a dollar for every time I've heard that comment regarding this book, I might be writing my review from a sun drenched beach on the island of Fiji-- and skipping my cell phone across the clear blue sea. Discerning how well this book flows to wherever it's going, or giving style points-- for how punchy or effectual Jeff Guinn's well practiced linguistics are-- are not genuine interests for me.

For Go Down Together was touted as an historical work, as evidenced by it's clearly stated sub-title-- "The True Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde". No, I'm not one who makes my living writing quick and shallow reviews of books-- just in time, to make it to press in covering the next release. I'm an historian. More to the point, a Bonnie and Clyde Historian. B&C Historians (admittedly or not) may be an eclectic and slightly eccentric bunch, but there's one thing we share in common-- we are passionate about the "history" of Bonnie and Clyde. Also, we're more than likely familiar with a literal "bevy" of Bonnie and Clyde historical accounts, myths, legends and lore-- from the most commonly related stories, to the most obscure tidbits of info rarely or never cataloged.

I suppose Go Down Together, could be called a literary leap for Jeff Guinn. According to prior to this effort, 5 of Guinn's previous books were written concerning the topic of Santa Claus. One of his efforts dealt with vampires. Still another, chronicled the photographic history of the Dallas Cowboys. And yet another, was penned about the game of baseball. So as perhaps Mr. Guinn's first serious fore' into the realm of written history, there was heightened anticipation, in welcoming his new Bonnie and Clyde book. But the truth be told, there's always a pronounced "buzz"-- when a new B&C book hits the stacks. It also seems fair to point out, that
in titling his book a "True Untold Story"-- there could be little ambiguity regarding Jeff's intentions to present a rare, new and factual account-- of America's most iconic outlaws.

However it became clear to me early on, that in considering Go Down Together-- I wouldn't need to comment on chapter and verse-- or even choose between multiple pro and con talking points in passing judgment on this B&C work. Rather I would need just "3" elements-- in order to classify this effort, as being a less than relevant addition to the Bonnie and Clyde stable of literary works. As threes are synonymous with strength in history, I've come to call these key elements The Guinn Triad. They are: Mr. Guinn's telling of the ambush-- his labeling of Bonnie Parker as a prostitute-- and an event so astounding to me, it too now has it's own title-- The Guinn Doctrine. This last element, has to do with a "more than remarkable" admission made by Jeff Guinn-- within an e-mail to me on March 14th, 2009. I still don't know, why Jeff selected the fateful words he did?? I may never come to terms with trying to figure out why, he would let this "telling" impression of historical writing-- travel from his head to his fingers and onto an e-mail, to be noted and preserved by me-- whom he knew was critical of his book??

For those who feel my focus too narrow within this review, I respectfully disagree. To me, these 3 elements are so wrong, profound and striking in their lack of diligence and historical responsibility-- I feel whatever good points are contained within the pages of his book, Jeff has trivialized by his egregious errors-- on the 3 fronts I've deemed critical to my opinion of Go Down Together.

The Sailes Ambush-- Many things are known of the waylay executed so memorably, that Wednesday morning in May 1934-- and yet many aspects remain unknown. However, one aspect of the ambush which was meticulously detailed-- was documented by Bienville Parish Coroner Dr. J. L. Wade. His accounting of the wounds suffered by Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker that hot and fateful day, have remained a constant within B&C History for more than 75 years. In conducting his coroner's jury inquest, Dr. Wade made note of the numerous bullet wounds, cuts made by flying glass, previous injuries and other physical characteristics evident in Clyde and Bonnie that day. Numerous photos of the infamous pair in death, were taken, developed and printed by Dr. Wade's assistant King Murphy. Also as noted within scores of eyewitness accounts, the crowded mayhem at Conger's furniture store and morgue that day-- would have provided little opportunity, for anything other than the truth which was witnessed in so public a forum-- to be accounted for.

64 years later, 2 research historians named Sandy Jones and Bob Fischer, would release a report made for limited consumption-- called quite simply It's Death To Bonnie And Clyde. I suppose some viewed this report as ground breaking. However in reality, the assumptions made, particularly concerning the ambush of B&C-- would prove to be erroneous, as they clashed with more credible and well documented events from May 23rd, 1934. Although as stated within this report, it "was" a goal to provide a newly researched account of the death of Bonnie and Clyde-- one of the primary purposes of Jones having examined the Warren car, was to use it as the best model possible-- to build an accurate recreation of itself. From that point of view, the Jones/Fischer report was a success. Sandy Jones built a stunning recreation of the Warren car, which historian Jim Knight later purchased.

However, this perhaps well meaninged report has also caused controversy-- in presenting a version of the ambush which flies in the face of known reality. Key to this fodder, is one singular photo of Bonnie Parker (complete with illustrative arrows)-- which the Jones/Fischer report states, shows an "entry" wound within Bonnie's right cheek-- thus causing the gaping exit wound within her left cheek. It's then somehow advanced, that since there are a small number of entry bullet holes above Bonnie's passenger door-- and that the caliber of bullet may have matched a gun thought used by Capt. Frank
Hamer that day-- that low and behold, Hamer must have fired at Bonnie from her right side, as evidenced by the bullet hole in her right cheek.

The problem for these assumptions, is that there was never an entry wound in Bonnie's right cheek. Concerning the perceived bullet wound, Dr. Wade's coroner's report is clear for all to read. The gaping wound in Bonnie's left cheek was noted by Wade (the coroner who examined her that day)-- to be an entry wound, with it's exit made through the top of Bonnie's head. Also as noted within by a number of photos taken of Bonnie "after" being cleaned up, the indentation noted by Jones and Fischer (previously filled with streaming blood)-- was apparently nothing more than a dimple. Dr. Wade had it right, and unfortunately Jones and Fischer had it wrong.

Also regarding the bullet holes above Bonnie's door, Dallas Deputy Sheriff Bob
Alcorn-- admitted in an interview made with the Dallas Morning News on the day of the ambush, that it was "he" who fired at Bonnie's door with his rifle. And unlike Hamer, who was "not" known to have had a Colt Monitor at the ambush (that's thought to be wrong as well)-- Alcorn in firing a Remington Model 8-- did possess the correct caliber weapon, to apparently match the holes above Bonnie's door. By the way, it's felt by many that Capt. Frank Hamer used an automatic shotgun-- as his primary weapon that day.

The issue for Guinn, is that he admittedly used
the Jones/Fischer report in spinning his version of the ambush. It's never been documented with any credibility, that Bonnie was shot from the right side of the Warren car multiple times by Frank Hamer, in firing his powerful Colt Monitor machine rifle, or by anyone else-- in firing multiple times directly into Bonnie from the right side. To put it politely-- BS. As only left and rear shots were noted by Dr. Wade in having entered Bonnie-- "no" right handed wounds were found.

And before anyone starts spouting off, with conspiracy theory-- to protect
Hamer and the boys from having shot the hell out of a woman in 1934, who Hamer at least thought to be pregnant-- don't get me going on that one. They shot the hell out of Bonnie Parker in 1934, who Hamer thought to be pregnant. Plain and simple. I'm not sure what possible motive anyone could have had, for sugar coating what occurred, and making that "lauded" group assassination appear less dramatic-- than the carnage it already was?? I believe Professor Carroll Rich, who knew Dr. J. L. Wade-- in saying Wade would never have been pressured, to do anything he didn't want to do. Besides-- Hamer himself, was witnessed calling Wade a "straight arrow" which in the 1930s, meant an honest man.

Indeed Guinn's version of the ambush, is
fraught with shameless sensationalism and inept inaccuracy. This is further evidenced by the millisecond by millisecond analysis provided by Guinn, via the Jones/Fischer report-- of the firing order of the officers present that day. With all the years that have passed, no witnesses left to interview and so many assumptions used (which may or may not possess any hint of accuracy)-- I'm not sure how or why, this "carefully crafted" firing order, would have validity or usefulness. All of these bold assertions sound good I guess, until you realize all were formed from the ballistics, forensics and photographic interpretations of non-experts.

The sensational supposition employed by Guinn, follows the lines of 1930's rumors-- involving Hamer having targeted Bonnie at Sailes for the Grapevine murders, which seemingly had no basis in truth at the ambush. I am aware of a report that apparently exists, which states when Hamer approached the Warren car and saw there was nothing left to do-- that he holstered his weapon without firing another shot. But hey, a monstrous and vengeful Hamer dramatically "finishing off" Bonnie sure sounds good-- and what a splash it would make, especially when picked up and used within a well publicized new book-- which along with this dubious claim, sports other instances of sensationalized supposition.

Bonnie Parker "Prostitute"-- For anyone who doubts the impact of Guinn's book, please Google Bonnie Parker Prostitute, and read the results you find. To me, Jeff Guinn absolutely lays the gauntlet down to be slapped in the face with-- in espousing that Bonnie Parker may have engaged in prostitution. He uses as proof for his claim a poem, allegedly written by Bonnie Parker called "The Prostitute's Convention".

"The Prostitute's Convention" has been thought by some, to have been written by Bonnie when she was imprisoned in Kaufman, Texas in the Spring of 1932. Although the story behind this poem is intriguing, I'm not sure it can be proven with any confidence, that Bonnie wrote "The Prostitute's Convention". Never the less, Guinn used it anyway, even though he "didn't know" the correct provenance for it. That poem did "not" come from Marie Barrow via Jonathan Davis as Guinn stated. The provenance for that poem was said to have been Kaufman Sheriff's Office guard J. W. Tidwell, who signed the 10 poem grouping of poetry, written in a bank book-- of which this poem was included. This book of poetry, entitled "Poetry From Life's Other Side", was allegedly given to Tidwell by Bonnie Parker, while she was imprisoned in Kaufman. It was sold at auction by Bonham's in June of 2006 for $36,000-- reportedly to a collector from England.

Within their preparation for auction, Bonhams offered the opinion of a memorabilia dealer and handwriting expert, who judged the poetry authentic-- by comparing it to a letter believed written by Bonnie for Clyde-- and addressed to Raymond Hamilton, as part of Clyde's newspaper war with Hamilton. As many know, I spent 2 years authenticating The Bonnie and Clyde Signatures. In 2006, when I asked noted forensic handwriting expert Emily J. Will CDE (who had worked on the signatures)-- to look at scans of some of these poems I obtained from Bonhams-- she disagreed with the opinion of the Bonham's hired gun. Ms. Will's opinion was, the very aspects of the handwriting the other gentleman deemed similarities in declaring the poems authentic-- were not unique at all, in that so many would have written in the same style they were trained in, within the 1930's. Emily keyed in on what she thought were more "unique" features of the handwriting-- which she felt didn't jive with the Hamilton letter.

I don't think there's any credible evidence, to support Bonnie being involved in even casual prostitution-- whether or not, "The Prostitute's Convention" could be proven to be Bonnie's creation. Half of the 10 poems within that Kaufman grouping, were "not" Bonnie's poems anyway-- but instead, poems known to have been written by others. Within the auction listing, it's surmised Bonnie may have included these other poems along with hers-- as she may have liked them. It's a "long" stretch to prove a poem autobiographical-- especially one so hard to prove was Bonnie's to begin with. I asked Jeff, since he didn't know the correct provenance of the poem he used as "evidence" in backing a Bonnie prostitution claim-- how he could have felt comfortable in advancing such a claim?? I never got a viable explanation in return.

The Telltale Heart??-- So what is The Guinn Doctrine you ask?? In addressing concerns I had regarding his book, on March 14th, 2009-- Jeff Guinn made the following statement in an e-mail to me-- "all written history is ultimately best guess, and clearly you and I have guessed differently in some instances." No Sir, I don't believe I have-- but never the less, that's the verbatim quote. I say with all respect, o
thers can believe what they want. But I for one, cannot find credibility in Guinn's "True Story" of Bonnie and Clyde, while fraught with blatant inaccuracies-- and defined by such a lax and perhaps arrogant historical credo. Some have jumped to Guinn's defense-- in saying they think they know what Jeff meant, in making such a declaration. But to my way of thinking, there are "3" absolutes within the statement "all written history is ultimately best guess". Thus, as I see it, there is little ambiguity in this astounding revelation.

In addition, so many facts "do" exist within written history. So on the face of it, that statement is incredible and obviously false!! So I don't know what Jeff meant, but in uttering such a concise and well structured statement-- I can only feel he meant what he said. I find Jeff's credo concerning historical writing a self defining, damning and scary one for any historical writer to make. However some seem to now question, whether Guinn is indeed either an historical writer or an original one?? It's been pointed out to me, that some of Guinn's "inner circle" revelations have been used previously by other B&C authors-- particularly by Jim Knight in his 21st Century Update of Bonnie and Clyde.

The Damage Is Done-- But the Fight Isn't Over. As many know, feel I can draw a close parallel between Jeff Guinn and John Toland, in having advanced such controversial assumptions regarding Bonnie and Clyde History-- without apparently having the facts to back them up. Thus I view Guinn as the modern day John Toland. Of course, Jeff may not mind being compared to a Pulitzer Prize winning author. But Toland won acclaim, for his chronicles of WWII history. It's his "odd" book of the lot-- The Dillinger Days, where Toland seemingly strayed off course-- to write a not so well regarded account of lawlessness in the 1930's. But perhaps Guinn too-- may have veered away from his more comfortable base, in writing a book perhaps out of his element?? The shame of this for B&C History, is I feel confident in believing the likelihood of Guinn's sensationalized assumptions-- being as harmful and influential in the future-- as Toland's claims have been from 1963 until now.

As I have in the past I will again-- state my belief, that Jeff Guinn should issue a public apology to Bonnie's niece, Rhea Leen Linder (Bonnie Ray Parker)-- for the shameful way he's disparaged Bonnie Parker and the Parker family-- by calling Bonnie Parker a prostitute without just cause. I also feel it would be the right thing to do, for Jeff to apologize publicly to L. J. "Boots" Hinton, for the USA Today review of his book written by Craig Wilson. Mr. Hinton was misquoted by omission within this review of Go Down Together, which was published worldwide.

On a personal note, and on behalf of so many-- I wish to "thank" Rhea Leen Linder-- for being "so kind" to us over the years, and for helping with her contributions to Bonnie and Clyde History. Rhea Leen may now have decided to discontinue her participation in B&C events and assisting with B&C projects-- due in part to B&C "dirt" being bandied about-- which she finds offensive. I can't blame her for her feelings, and can only hope she'll reconsider her position-- as she is a sweet woman, and important friend to this history.

As all who know me understand-- together with "Boots" Hinton and others, I have been a tireless advocate for accuracy in B&C History. As I see it, Go Down Together-- The True Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde is far from the "True Story" it purports to be.
It seems Mr. Guinn has succeeded in revising B&C History, or at least the perceptions of some concerning this history-- but without the proof needed to do so. The problem becomes, in getting past those like me and so many others, who care about this history intensely-- and who won't let sparse diligence and a non-caring spirit, pass for history-- when it's not. Others seem to have their own issues with Go Down Together. For me, my digs are the ones I mentioned. It is not my goal, to make life difficult for Jeff Guinn-- as I have much of importance to accomplish both within this history, and personally within my own life. However within my love for this unique history, and concerning Go Down Together-- my choice became say nothing, and just chalk it up to another bunch of B&C folly being espoused-- or take a stand and join those who would say "the historical buck stops here"!!

One footnote-- I feel it important to say, that I have nothing against Sandy Jones and Bob Fischer, who have contributed historically in many important ways. I just believe in this case, assumptions were made that were unfortunate.

I didn't create the caption or photographs at the beginning of this opinion. But I kind of like them. As the caption so aptly says-- book 'em. Yea-- "book 'em Danno"-- for impersonating a true historical account of Bonnie and Clyde.
Thanks for your time, and my thanks to all-- who share the hunger for "truth" in Bonnie and Clyde History.


Russ1934 said...

Wow! Stunning post Winston! Well worth waiting for!!

Anonymous said...

*Stands up clapping*

Such a wonderful thing to read on a Monday evening- well thought out,articulate and incredibly well researched. I 'guess' I'd call that a good historical argument!

~Cheers ;)

Anonymous said...

thought the post was great, and i agree with about everything you said. but, why are you disrespecting bonnie & clyde by putting thier photograph next to guinns?

A. Winston Woodward said...

As mentioned, I didn't design the photo montage. I found it-- as is. Instead of just showing the book cover, I felt it appropriate for Guinn to be seen. Although I appreciate your comment, I don't worry much about associations such as you mentioned. Guinn is already associated with Bonnie and Clyde, as an author of a B&C book. That's the way it is. But as such, I feel this particular book and author are fair game-- in having recounted the history of B&C as published. Words and rebuttal can be a powerful thing. Hopefully my words will resonate.

Anonymous said...

yes winston, i agree with you ther too!! FAIR GAME!! i'd like mr guinn to read your revue!!! like i said, i agree with just about all you said!! GOOD JOB PAL!!!

Anonymous said...

hello winston. i must say, this was well worth waiting for.i am in the prossess of going over the guinn book a second time, and listing what i think he got wrong. however, the thing that galled me the most about mr guinn was his comment that all writted history is best guessed. if he had done this book in a way that said, hey, this is what i found, and this is my conclusion. i would have no problem with that. however, don't take a bunch of guesses, and tell people this is the TRUE untold story of bonnie & clyde. i hope to get my google account straightened out one of these days regards, ted1933

Anonymous said...

I went back and was reading Guinn last night. I came to the part about Bonnie being accused of prostitution. What was the evidence cited? That she was poor and people thought she dressed nice? Was that it? barb

A. Winston Woodward said...

To me, the explanation concerning the quality and style of Bonnie's dress was a sidenote. Guinn cited "The Prostitute's Convention"-- as the source for his assertion. But to make the leap from content to reality, this poem whether Bonnie's or not (and Guinn obviously thought it was, or considered it "close enough")-- would've had to have been thought autobiographical.

As I see it, this would be a "tall" order-- even if this poem could be proven to have been authored by Bonnie. "However" and it's "great big" however-- Jeff didn't even know, the correct provenance for this poem!! So instead of the source being a family based and more credible Marie Barrow as stated by Guinn, the actual source was a much less credible jailhouse guard.

When an author with 80 pages of footnotes, doesn't know the correct source of his "evidence"-- and either mistakenly?? or deliberately?? misstates this source, for such a crucial and reputation altering claim-- then I call into question, the diligence and credibility of the author.

Just as he seemingly ignored Dr. Wade's coroner's report, in spinning his more sensational view of the ambush-- Mr. Guinn apparently didn't research known and published accounts regarding "The Prostitute's Convention". This info concerning the poem's origin, would have exposed the poem as being of much less authority-- in being able to support his assertion. This info as published by Bonhams, was out there and available to view-- since at least June of 2007. My question is, why wasn't the correct provenance known and considered, prior to publication of the book??

Anonymous said...

I used to live in Center City Philadelphia, in a run down mid rise at the edge of the 'good' part of town and one year my landlord started renting to prostitutes. Everybody knew. If it's going around in your area, you can learn a lot about it without being one. So she wrote poems about the underworld while in jail. Who wouldn't hear an earfull in jail? Aren't jails pretty much schools for crime, which is why we tried to separate out juveniles anyhow? barb

Anonymous said...

hello, you wrote a very interesting post, and i enjoyed it. however, you made the comment about the fisher/jones report as the way i understood it, not as credible as the ambush reports at the time directly after it happened. what i would like to know, in your opinion, which report of the ambush do you consider credible? hamer, jordan, and hinton all gave different versions of the affair, and i have never read any book, magazine article, or any other source that was the same regarding the ambush. to me, this is just another persons version of what they think happened that morning. fact is, there are some things we will never know for sure, and the absolute fact regarding the ambush is only one of them. as far as bonnie being a hooker, and drug user? he has no proof whatsoever. however, i am sure you have read worse things about her. and those stories are without proof as well. it seems mr guinn could have done a lot more research, and got a few things right. however, i suppose when you are on a deadline with your publisher, you write it up as quickly as possible. truth be ignored. thank you.

A. Winston Woodward said...

In advancing the Hamer assertion, the Jones/Fischer report does not seem to jive with any known account of the ambush. And in fact, this report is in direct dispute with Dr. Wade's coroner's account-- concerning the wounds of Bonnie Parker. Interestingly, Guinn seems to "use" Wade's accounts in describing Clyde's wounds-- but ignores Wade, in his description of Bonnie's wounds. I would ask, what does that mean??-- to anyone who would like to comment.

Guinn also apparently ignores Bob Alcorn's known news interview, concerning his "admittedly" shooting at the right of the Warren car-- as seemingly Alcorn's account doesn't fit in, with the Hamer assertion?? Also Hamer's own account of the ambush is apparently overlooked. "And" the assertion that Frank Hamer used a Colt Monitor at the ambush is another can 'o worms. It's not known with any certainty at all, that Hamer even had that weapon with him that day. I believe according to Hamer's son, he didn't. In having Hamer shoot Bonnie at point blank range in the face-- and multiple times into her body from her right side, with this powerful weapon-- it begs the question, "without" any wounds within Bonnie's right side witnessed in 1934, where did they go?? Perhaps these wounds evaporated??-- or worse, this account shows Hamer to be a thoroughly incompetent shot-- as he must have missed!!

To me, Guinn's account is not just another person's opinion as to what happened that day. It is the swallowing hook, line and sinker of a report-- that cannot be substantiated by any known account, or credible person who was there that day. You just can't ignore all that is known, and go off half cocked diving off the cliff of contrived innuendo-- and call it a true account. You just can't. Well I guess apparently you can, as Jeff did. But that doesn't mean there is historical accuracy within that clearly sensationalized ambush account. To me, this account of the ambush is more troublesome than hearsay. It's unsubstantiated fodder, advanced many decades removed-- from the realities of that day.

I "guess" when "all written history is ultimately best guess"-- you can ignore facts as were known and documented-- and just go with a whole new account, complete with millisecond by millisecond details, of the ambush posse's firing order that morning. All hell didn't really break loose with all the officers firing simultaneously-- as was said to have happened. Each officer you see (consciously or unconsciously)-- waited a specific length of time one after the other, in deciding when to shoot that day?? Someone needs to try and tell me, how many unknown assumptions it takes-- for that scenario to have been constructed, and better yet-- to have relevance.

Also in addressing the prior comment, I would love to hear-- what rumors about Bonnie Parker are thought to be worse, than accusing her of being a prostitute without cause. When an author doesn't even know the correct provenance of a supposed artifact, being touted to make such an extreme claim, and worse-- states a provenance which would give that claim validity "that doesn't exist"-- well doesn't that put that author up the 'ol proverbial creek without a paddle so to speak??

Then to say that Bonnie's niece knew of this damning and "interpreted" poem, and of it's ramifications to Bonnie's reputation-- when in fact she herself told me she didn't. Well-- just how far does this have to go-- how many untruths need to be advanced-- before someone speaks up and says-- "enough"!?! Call me old fashioned-- but I don't feel that baseless opinions or guesses, should be portrayed as facts-- within an historical work. I also feel, if you don't have the facts to back up a number of your key claims-- then you shouldn't knock the dead (Hamer or Bonnie)-- at the expense of their historical reputations--or the feelings of living family members. Not to mention, all of us who wish to know the truth (as best it can be known)-- regarding this history.

Anonymous said...

hello again sir, at no time in my previous message did i ever say i believed mr guinn, or any of his statements. nor do i belive mr hamer, or the colorful story mr hinton is said to have wrote. what i basicly asked, is this, what is your take,or version of the ambush? and as far as bonnie being called a prostitute, dont you think being called a cold blooded killer is much worse that? and i'm not refering to grapevine, texas. in another book of so called "true crime stories" the author assures the reader that ms bonnie parker decapitates a young officer with a shotgun, and laughs when she see's his head explode! so yes, i have heard of worse things written about bonnie. you can find this story in the book called "bloodletters and badmen". and there is a version of the ambush in it also which i think you would enjoy. but just for the record, i put no stock in this, or the book written by mr guinn. and i do agree, sensational fodder does not a true history make. however, i am still most interested in what you think happened may 23rd, 1934. thank you for your time, and if i got your blood up with my previous post, i am very sorry, it was not meant to be callous, or hurtfull in any way. i do hope you get to feeling better. not dissagreing with you at all, i think we are mainly on the same page RE: the truth. thank you for your time.

A. Winston Woodward said...

I guess people can put into books whatever they want-- whether true or not. But there's a discernible difference between history and fiction. Now even 75 years later, there is no credible evidence, that Bonnie Parker ever killed anyone. There is evidence from Barrow Gang members, that Bonnie fired guns-- but "no" evidence that she ever took a life. Was she an accessory to murder-- absolutely and without a doubt.

But being called a killer when so obviously untrue, does not rise to the level within my thinking-- of being perhaps forever labeled a prostitute. I feel but for a likely small number of stubborn and ill informed "fans" of this history, who perhaps wish for some reason to believe the BP "killer" angle-- this myth has been disproved.

However, just as John Toland's escapades within a "1" book foray into this history, and it's negative consequences-- I can see Guinn's new forays into the dark and mysterious world of the non-diligent author-- causing similar harm well into the future.

To answer the burning question you ask, I generally believe in Ted Hinton's view of the ambush for a number of reasons. First, his basic account of the ambush has not been discredited-- now 32 years after the publishing of his book. Also, there are some unpublished tidbits still unknown to most-- which to my way of thinking support Hinton's version. And Tom is right, the FBI files could have gone a "long" way toward supporting one view of the ambush or another. However, the FBI report documented to have been written by SA Lester Kindell, and thought to contain the details of the ambush-- was conspicuously missing from Dallas file 26-4114. Thus one is left to wonder-- why?? I can see this report's curious absence, supporting Hinton's story more than not. Hinton's concerns and his claim of a cover up, would make sense, with this info "not" being available to view.

I can see the FBI wanting no part, in disclosing what Hinton was willing to reveal. I'm not saying Hinton's version is perfect. But my take is, that Hinton's version is the "most" correct-- and that the contrary versions "are" quite possibly the cover up accounts. I don't feel many have thought through the possibility, that the accounts contrary to Hinton's version would make perfect sense in being contrary-- if they were in fact, the cover up.

Hinton did testify under oath well before his book was published, and told the same unwavering accounts of the ambush. I do "not" see any logic what so ever, in Ted Hinton sullying his life's reputation, by telling a contrived tale of the ambush before his death. Also in knowing his son "Boots" as I do, I personally have a great respect for the characters of those who call themselves Hintons. Plus I find Ted's compassion and decades long helpfulness for both the Parker and Barrow families, after having participated in killing B&C-- nothing short of "remarkable".

So all in all, Hinton's version gets my vote. I do have trouble with some of his less important details-- but as far as the ambush account itself-- I generally side with Hinton.

Since such a defining question was asked of me, I would ask a polite question in return please. If you don't believe in any of the ambush accounts you mentioned, how are you able to come to terms with the ambush-- in order to form your opinions of this history?? And don't worry about getting my ire up a bit. It happens. In addition, all are welcome to disagree all they like-- as long as viewpoints are civil. And many thanks to you and to all-- for your kind words regarding my feeling better. I appreciate that very much.

Anonymous said...

thank you for a most interesting answer. as i'm sure you know, henderson jordan gave a interview to his nephew, glenn jordan shortly before he died. to me, his account sounds very credible. no hamer jumping into the road demanding a surrender, nobody tied to a tree in the woods, seems he did get a little upset with mr methvin because he was as it seems scared to death of bonnie and clyde. but i will admit, if i was going to bushwack someone, i would want innocent people out of the line of fire. so i can see why you tend to believe mr hinton. the reason i find the hinton story suspicious is the tying mr methvin to a tree. i just do not think barrow would have stopped had he not seen mr methvin by his truck. i think if he only saw the truck, with nobody there, he would not have come to a stop. however, this is only my opinion. and no, i would not think after all those years, mr hinton would make up a story,but untill i learn otherwise, i tend to find sheriff jordans account the most credibe. you have a fine blog, and i do so enjoy the comments you and your follower's make. thank you once again, and god bless.

Anonymous said...

Just to chip in; it was pretty much stated at the end of Hinton's book that there were things that he left out of his account purposely, out of respect for people involved who did not wish to be made public. In my opinion this shows the level of his character- he told his story out of a need to tell facts not to sell books. I for one take the word of someone who was there, granted by nature eyewitness accounts are not perfect- but I'll take my chances with Ted. (As opposed to say Santa Claus)

And hmmm I truly wonder which is worse being type cast as a killer or a whore? They both completely degrade someone's character- but what really pisses me off is we wouldn't even bring up the prostitute topic if the person in question was a poor male who dressed well....enough said!

A. Winston Woodward said...

To me, there was a line in the sand drawn by Ted Hinton in publishing Ambush. Those who believe in previous ambush accounts, were forced to deal with Hinton's last recollections. As I view it, this leaves us to ponder previous accounts-- as perhaps being the cover up accounts.

Maybe I am one of but a small number, who view it this way. But really, what other explanation could there be-- in sorting out the differences between the various eyewitness viewpoints. Either Hinton made up his story and sullied his life's reputation in the process, or he told the truth-- and went to his grave, knowing he did the right thing for history-- and for the consciences of all six ambush posse members.

And as mentioned in the past, there's still time before the holidays-- for a follow up to The Autobiography of Santa Claus as told to Jeff Guinn. It's interesting to me-- how many now make the Santa connection. Perhaps that's my fault-- or perhaps Jeff himself allowed for that comparison. My question would be-- is that a true fiction book??

tedprince1933 said...

hi winston, and everyone else. at one time, i found the hinton story to be a little "suspicious" myself. however, after doing a little digging, talking with the right people, and doing some "common sense thinking" his story is not as farfetched as some might think! as far as one previous poster stated that story about bonnie shooting a cop and blowing his head off, thats a huge load of crap. this was have supposed to have happened in july of 1933. she is said to have been driving the car, and turned to clyde and said, watch this! she drove up to a traffic officer, in downtown oklahoma city, and aked the officer, how do i get to sixth and main? the officer gives her the directions, smiles, and tips his cap. then she pulls the shotgun up, firing both barells, and blows the mans head off! then her and clyde laugh, and drive off. as boots would say, "horsefeathers"!! if anyone care's to check, there was NO officer killed in the line of duty in OK city in july of 1933. hope you are feeling better winston, those kidney stones are something else. as always, take care! tedprince1933. (one of these days i'll get my google thing working again!)

Cindy said...

I read the book - I read every book about Bonnie and Clyde that I can get my hands on, and I haven't had any new ones at my library until this one! There is some good information about their early lives, and I enjoyed that, and I found the book pretty good although not as accurate as I would have liked. One question I do have, though - in the photos, it can clearly be seen that there are a number of bullet holes in the windshield on the passenger side. While I don't believe anyone stood there with a shotgun and fired shots into Bonnie's dead or dying body, I am wondering where those bullet holes came from? Could they have been exit holes coming from bullets fired from behind?

BarefootOkieGal said...

I read the book because it was the first new Bonnie and Clyde book that's been in my library for awhile! I did enjoy it - it was interesting to learn about their early lives in the Dallas slums - but again, there's Frank Hamer firing a shotgun into Bonnie's dead or dying body, and that put me off the book right there.

I do have a question, though, and maybe some folks can help me answer it! In the original shots of the death car, the windshield has quite a large number of bullet holes in the passenger side. While I don't buy the idea that anyone stood in front of that car and pointed a shotgun and fired at Bonnie, the bullet holes may be what have made some people believe this happened. My guess is that they are exit holes from a shotgun blast fired through a back window after she was already down, because the positioning of the holes doesn't seem to correspond with any of Bonnie's wounds, but that's just a guess on my part.

A. Winston Woodward said...

Ted Hinton and Bob Alcorn ran after the death car shooting from behind. According to Ted's son L.J. "Boots" Hinton, by the time Ted was in pursuit from the rear-- he was firing 45 caliber auto pistols. It may well have been one of his shots, that broke Bonnie's spine from behind.

Bob Alcorn admitted within an interview conducted that day, to flanking the Warren car and firing from the right side of the car. He was using a Remington Model 8 rifle.

According to "Boots" whose father was there to witness the events of the ambush, it was Hamer and Gault-- who fired at Bonnie's front windshield as the Warren car approached them, in thinking she might fire out her passenger window at them. In reality, Bonnie had likely already been hit and blown into the passenger door-- thus appearing to have been leaning toward her window.

By credible accounts, it's thought Frank Hamer used a shotgun in the ambush. I don't buy Jeff Guinn's account of the ambush in general, and of Hamer specifically-- concerning his firing at Bonnie. There is "NO" evidence to support such a claim-- including what I believe is faulty logic from the Jones/Fischer report, which Guinn admittedly used as his research for his "sensationalized" account of the ambush.

BarefootOkieGal said...

I did enjoy the Guinn book because, first of all, it's the first new one I've read in ages - however, I do think he made a lot of errors. I don't believe I've ever seen a shred of evidence anywhere that would make me believe that Bonnie was a prostitute, just because she liked to look nice! I think he took her background and made a lot of assumptions. And the whole thing about Frank Hamer didn't jibe with anything I've read. I've got to get hold of Hinton's book again, and some of the others - might be time to sit back and read through all the info again. My mother and her siblings lived in Oklahoma in the early part of the century, and she was 10 years old when Bonnie and Clyde were killed and remembers the headlines well; my Aunt, who was a few years older than my mom, actually spotted Pretty Boy Floyd in some little town outside Talequah one day, doing some shopping, but her mom told her not to say anything to anybody, although I guess everyone knew he was staying near there... No one in the family ever claimed to meet Clyde and Bonnie, though, although whenever they talked about them, that's how they referred to them - Clyde and Bonnie, not Bonnie and Clyde. I guess the "Bonnie and Clyde" came later, when people started writing songs and movies - it does scan a bit better!

exroyalnavyboy said...

So why on earth would Emma Parker (Bonnies Mom) inform the FBI whilst being interviewed that her daughter had been working as a common prostitute right up until the time she got married ???

A. Winston Woodward said...

A defender of Jeff Guinn?? Hmmmm. OK-- prove to me she did.