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Bonnie and Clyde may be the most notorious—and celebrated—outlaw couple America has ever known. This is the true story of how they got that way.

Bonnie and Clyde: we've been on a first name basis with them for almost a hundred years. Immortalized in movies, songs, and pop culture references, they are remembered mostly for their storied romance and tragic deaths. But what was life really like for Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker in the early 1930s? How did two dirt-poor teens from west Texas morph from vicious outlaws to legendary couple? And why?

Award-winning author Karen Blumenthal devoted months to tracing the footsteps of Bonnie and Clyde, unearthing new information and debunking many persistent myths. The result is an impeccably researched, breathtaking nonfiction tale of love, car chases, kidnappings, and murder set against the backdrop of the Great Depression.

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"Bonnie Wasn't Clyde's Only Female Accomplice,"
Karen Blumenthal, The History Channel online, Aug 6, 2018

"Bonnie and Clyde for teens? Dallas author Karen Blumenthal Tells the Story," David Martindale, The Dallas Morning News, Aug 17, 2018

awards and honors
Booklist Editors' Choice
Booklist Top 10 Romance Fiction for Youth List
New York Public Library Best Books for Teens

reviews
“‘... An on-and-off subject of public fascination since their two-year rampage across the American Southwest in the 1930s, Bonnie and Clyde have presented an image of glamour, recklessness, freedom, and all-consuming love that has never quite faded from pop culture. In this exquisitely researched biography, Blumenthal doesn’t entirely dispute that image, but she’s careful to explore why the crime-spree duo was, and is, so easily romanticized, without romanticizing them herself. The text is precise, unemotional, and impartial; this, first and foremost, is an investigation of the hardships people faced during the Great Depression. … An extraordinarily successful resource about a painful time in history and a complicated, infamous pair.” —Booklist, starred review

“The crime-spree story of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow persists in legend, ‘no longer for who they were, but for who we want them to be.’ Blumenthal adheres to this theme throughout her engrossing biography, demonstrating that the 1930s populace regarded their four-year rampage of theft and murder with terror—laced with traces of admiration and titillation. Depression times were hard, and the glamorously garbed criminals were successfully thumbing their noses at poverty. They released some of their hostages with cash to get them back home, and they regularly visited their mothers. They were crazy in love. And, okay, yes, they killed people, but they were celebrities who supplied vicarious escape for struggling folk in need of distraction. Blumenthal understands and even respects the allure, but she is clear eyed and firm regarding the crimes and the havoc they wreaked on their victims; by including insets of each person who lost his life to Bonnie and Clyde, she reminds readers that bold heists and daring getaways often ended in personal tragedy. …” —Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review

"Bonnie and Clyde—together, the names sing a resounding tale of adventure and freedom. Apart, each name has its own story, its own family, and its own attempt at living an honest life. In today's world, Bonnie and Clyde sit on a throne of American history, but do they really deserve to be celebrated? Bonnie and Clyde: The Making of a Legend tells the real story behind the legend, giving the reader a glimpse into the many lives Bonnie and Clyde permanently altered. Through her use of narrative nonfiction, Blumenthal builds a gripping story for readers of all ages. … History often tells only partial truths, but Blumenthal dispels the romanticism behind the two outlaws and providing a very clear picture of the way in which the duo left a scar on the face of the United States of America.” —Richard Vigdor, Voice of Youth Advocates

“... The book presents a social and cultural snapshot of the duo’s times as well as a detailed reporting of their crimes, combining information on the couple’s deeds and misdeeds with excerpts from Parker’s poems, mugshots, newspaper clippings, and family photos. Cultural artifacts and the phenomenon that contributed to the outlaws’ legend are explained in highlighted sections, as are obituaries for each of the Barrow gang’s victims. Blumenthal humanizes these gangsters of the Great Depression by placing them within the era in which they lived. In doing so, she never minimizes or excuses the carnage and destruction they caused, nor the terrible price they ultimately paid. … VERDICT This historical true-crime story is recommended for providing nuanced perspective without glorifying the misdeeds that shaped its subjects’ lives and deaths.–Kelly Kingrey-Edwards, School Library Journal

testimonials
“Through vivid narrative and meticulous research, Karen Blumenthal takes readers on a wild spree, masterfully capturing the zeitgeist of Depression-era America, when dead-ends and despair could turn teenagers into killers, and killers into legends.” —Candace Fleming, award-winning author of The Family Romanov and Amelia Lost

“Mean, tragic, and glamorous, Bonnie and Clyde live on in legend as depraved dreamers and notorious outlaws-in-love. Blumenthal's account of their real-life rise and fall is a vivid tale of poverty, violence, and celebrity in Depression-era America.”—Deobrah Noyes, author of Ten Days a Madwoman and The Magician and the Spirits.

“I knew the names Bonnie and Clyde, and that they were famous outlaws—but I was amazed by the twists and turns of their lives on the run. Blumenthal does a fantastic job separating myth from fact, turning romanticized legend into a hard-boiled true crime story.” —Steve Sheinkin, three-time National Book Award Finalist and author of many acclaimed books, including Undefeated, Most Dangerous, and The Port Chicago 50

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