Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bonnie and Clyde Truth-- "Oh" Those Authors

Every so often I'll comment re: truth in Bonnie & Clyde History, a topic which most know with confidence that I'm committed to wholeheartedly. I wonder what it is about modern society, that truth has seemingly taken a back seat to reaping the spoils of unbridled greed-- or has truth really always been at the mercy of reality as seen through rose colored glasses?? It almost seems now we're to the point where accuracy has roughly the same value as mediocrity. From reality TV with no basis in reality, to journalism which regularly sports apologies and who's output is rarely proofread-- to books where some authors seemingly say as they please, and treat historical events with the same care employed by tabloid journalists.

And at least for one Bonnie & Clyde "historical" author with a much celebrated release, it seemed easier to incorporate a catch all disclaimer in attempting to negate even the need for historical accuracy-- rather than field legitimate questions concerning his work. Add to that the pungent aura of self aggrandizement amongst some, in appearing to take credit for others' long standing research within more modern efforts. What do you suppose is lacking within today's historical sensibilities??-- which has transformed what "should" be stellar standards upheld in the researching and reporting of history-- into some denigratory clay like modeling of history, to fit perhaps within the narrow maximization of a 16 week book tour. What's apparently lost on publishing houses today, is the fact that once historical books hit the discount racks-- they still retain lasting impact. And do publishers really possess the ability to research and resolve factual issues, without succumbing to the temptation of allowing sensationalism to drive book sales?? Now there's a question for a whole 'nother article.

I must say I'm not much into publishing plugs for authors who leave what appear to be self supporting comments-- which I suppose they hope will be posted, and just so happen to coincide with a book release. Recently-- a claim of propriety for the 1st publication of knowledge concerning a Bonnie Parker pregnancy was advanced behind the scenes here, along with the assertion of remarkable proof having been cited for this contention. Well being as interested as I've been for a number of years now in this mystery, and having launched my own investigation into a possible Bonnie Parker pregnancy which I feel "has" produced interesting insights-- I was of course eager to learn of this remarkable info. But it seems the catch was, I had to buy the book to find out.

I don't feel any historian, should install a financial prerequisite on another historian in the sharing of what could be key historical information. Selling your wares is fine, but seeming to hold out for cash historian to historian-- I had never heard of that before, and frankly skepticism on my part was the inevitable result of such an action. And as no revelations were forthcoming within a number of follow up e-mail exchanges, to support this gentleman's statement that Bonnie had told a friend she was 3 months pregnant-- I can only believe this monumental info had to do with Clemmie Methvin's insights as related by her sister in law Emma. However as I and others familiar with this history are aware-- that knowledge along with other Bonnie Parker pregnancy angles have been known and written of for years, and in some cases decades. Perhaps this individual wasn't familiar with the extent to which I've delved into this mystery, but it became clear through our e-mails-- that the weight of new knowledge concerning a possible Bonnie Parker pregnancy rested squarely on this side of the keyboard.

Hey, gotta push to sell those books-- which I'm sure are fine books-- but not here, where Bonnie & Clyde truth is sought without compromise. As this particular True Crime book having to do with Dillinger truths isn't primarily focused on Bonnie & Clyde, and it's author (who seems a nice enough fellow)-- is better known for reporting on other notorious outlaws, I'll wish him well with his book and not belabor the point-- except to say I feel
Dr. Carroll Rich and John Neal Phillips might appreciate their published efforts being recognized. Carroll wrote of a Bonnie Parker pregnancy circa 1970 with regards to Dr. James Wade's findings upon examining Bonnie-- and in 1996, John chronicled additional detail concerning this rumor.

Some of John's work was then footnoted within Jim Knight's book, with Jim using personally held interviews with Clemmie Methvin concerning Bonnie's revelation to Emma concerning her pregnancy-- as well as the preparations of women in Bienville Parish to help Bonnie. Another Clemmie interview regarding this topic exists amongst numerous interviews, which are so far unpublished. I have read transcripts of or viewed a number of these remarkable interviews from those alive in 1934-- most of whom are no longer with us.

Among Phillip's revelations was the story of Dallas Herald Reporter Bill Duncan, who in searching for answers concerning this mystery, traveled to Arcadia apparently for the express purpose of viewing the undraped body of Bonnie Parker in death-- in attempting to determine Bonnie's state of pregnancy if any at the time of her demise. That was of course nearly 77 years ago. Ala John Toland-- some authors who specialize in other outlaws, or paint outlaw history with a broader brush-- understandably might not always convey Bonnie & Clyde History to it's fullest insights. Of course in fairness, the opposite would certainly hold true-- should I try to impart many of the finer nuances of John Dillinger or Alvin Karpis.

However as this author was seemingly hell bent, on espousing a conspiracy theory and cover up of a Bonnie pregnancy-- my reply (even though I too believe Bonnie may have been pregnant when killed)-- was to exercise caution, and prompt this gentleman to provide more proof than just logical feelings. Logical feelings and $2.25 will get you a ride on the NYC subway-- provided you can find a MetroCard machine that takes cash!!

It seems true, as expressed by some within this history who are wise enough to possess a uniquely broad perspective on previously published Bonnie & Clyde works-- that so much knowledge (whether true or not) regarding these iconic desperadoes just seems bandied about from book to book-- and with some said insights having little basis in fact or evidence to support them. Also the groundbreaking info from Dallas FBI file 26-4114, to my knowledge-- was 1st used by Paul Schneider within his 2009 release Bonnie and Clyde: The Lives Behind the Legend. Some may not care for Scheider's unique narrative style in telling the story of The Barrow Gang from a surmised point of view, but Paul's research including his use of the aforementioned FBI info seems strong.

One disturbing element within this debate over truth within Bonnie & Clyde History, has to do with some authors' apparent ease in incorporating previously known work-- while seemingly taking credit for their use of it. One highly regarded Bonnie & Clyde author has related his feelings concerning this to me, while a well known B&C Historian has been so bold as to use the term plagiarism, to describe his impression of a recent B&C work. Just as with popular music these days, where blatantly sampled million dollar hooks from the past-- are re-spun into new songs in seeking the expedient all mighty dollar-- such seems the case with some historical chronicles published within this lightning quick data driven world.

"Sorry-- I'm too busy to exchange e-mails with you concerning this history, as I'm out promoting my book"-- is a phrase the gist of which I've experienced in one form or another, more than once in recent memory. But as we're all really busy in one way or another these days-- I feel you make time, when something's important to you. Also if you've gone to the trouble, to publish an historical effort likely filled with blood, sweat and tears-- wouldn't it seem worthwhile to discuss it within the realm of historical relevance?? Winston Churchill's famous quote about truth as depicted at the top of this article-- couldn't be more relevant.

It's most interesting what you learn by telling the truth, and suggesting the need for higher standards within this history. But it seems a sad reality these days-- that support for supposition driven assertions, and less than truthful self promotion of others work can so easily be bought and defended. However just remember-- facts are not decided by how many people believe them, and truth is not determined by how loudly it is shouted. Hopefully, there will always be an honorable defense of truth in Bonnie & Clyde History.

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