Synopses & Reviews
Born in the squalid Irish slums of Brooklyn, in the first year of the twentieth century, Willie Sutton came of age at a time when banks were out of control. If they weren't taking brazen risks, causing millions to lose their jobs and homes, they were shamelessly seeking bailouts. Trapped in a cycle of bank panics, depressions and soaring unemployment, Sutton saw only one way out, only one way to win the girl of his dreams.
So began the career of America's most successful bank robber. Over three decades Sutton became so good at breaking into banks, and such a master at breaking out of prisons, police called him one of the most dangerous men in New York, and the FBI put him on its first-ever Most Wanted List.
But the public rooted for Sutton. He never fired a shot, after all, and his victims were merely those bloodsucking banks. When he was finally caught for good in 1952, crowds surrounded the jail and chanted his name.
Blending vast research with vivid imagination, Pulitzer Prize-winner J.R. Moehringer brings Willie Sutton blazing back to life. In Moehringer's retelling, it was more than need or rage at society that drove Sutton. It was one unforgettable woman. In all Sutton's crimes and confinements, his first love (and first accomplice) was never far from his thoughts. And when Sutton finally walked free — a surprise pardon on Christmas Eve, 1969 — he immediately set out to find her.
Poignant, comic, fast-paced and fact-studded, Sutton tells a story of economic pain that feels eerily modern, while unfolding a story of doomed love, which is forever timeless.
"With a voice at once sentimental and muscular, Moehringer is like the kid brother of John Irving or Roddy Doyle. He brings a raconteur's grace and rhythm to his first novel, Sutton, a stirring portrait of Willie 'The Actor' Sutton. A-." Entertainment Weekly
"A captivating and absorbing read." Kirkus (starred)
“Moehringer relays, in electrifying prose, the highs and lows of Sutton's dramatic life....Readers will be riveted by this colorful portrayal of a life in crime." Booklist (starred)
"A mesmerizing portrait of a remarkable man....The author's eye for detail and sense of place make every stop on Sutton's internal and external journeys resonate — from smoking a Chesterfield to Sutton's first sight of the moon as a free man, every scene is saturated with life." Publishers Weekly
"In Moehringer's more-than capable hands, the story has a life all its own beyond the historical fact." The Daily Beast
"What Hilary Mantel did for Thomas Cromwell and Paula McLain for Hadley Hemingway....J.R. Moehringer now does for bank robber Willie Sutton." Newsday
"Thoroughly absorbing....Filled with vibrant and colorful re-creations of not one but several times in the American past." Kevin Baker, author of Strivers Row
"[J.R. Moehringer] has found an historical subject equal to his vivid imagination, gimlet journalistic eye, and pitch-perfect ear for dialogue. By turns suspenseful, funny, romantic, and sad — in short, a book you won't be able to put down." John Burnham Schwartz, author of Reservation Road and The Commoner
Willie Sutton was born in the Irish slums of Brooklyn in 1901, and he came of age at a time when banks were out of control. Sutton saw only one way out and only one way to win the girl of his dreams. So began the career of America's most successful bank robber. During three decades Sutton became so good at breaking into banks, the FBI put him on its first-ever Most Wanted List. But the public rooted for the criminal who never fired a shot, and when Sutton was finally caught for good, crowds at the jail chanted his name.
In J.R. Moehringer's retelling, it was more than need or rage that drove Sutton. It was his first love. And when he finally walked free — a surprise pardon on Christmas Eve, 1969 — he immediately set out to find her.