Wednesday, November 21, 2007

William Radkay

I really enjoyed this book because it written very informally. When I was reading it, it was easy to imagine that Willie Radkay was telling me all of these stories himself.

First hand accounts are great because the stories that people tell explain what it means when someone says a "town was wide open" and it explains more than a researched book what the culture and attitudes were during the time discussed.

The book really shines in two places. The first is Willie's account of growing up in the Strawberry Hill Section of Kansas City, KS and the second is his description of doing time in Alcatraz and Leavenworth. It's not that the rest of the book lacks anything. It's just hard to keep reading about an obviously bright man making the bad decision to follow a life of crime. It's a value's thing.

Oh yeah, and the book is good because for once another criminal has something decent to say about Machine Gun Kelly (George Barnes). Radkay and Kelly were friends. While I don't think Kelly as a bank robber was in Alvin Karpis' or Harvey Bailey's league as a bank robber. He's not the blow hard doofus that Karpis makes him sound like in his book.