Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Harvey Bailey

J. Evetts Haley's book Robbing Banks Was My Business...the Story of J. Harvey Bailey was difficult to get hold of. Not only has it been out of print for some time, but it is also now a collectors item. Signed copies in good condition are going for over $1,000. Only 7 libraries in the country have a copy for circulation including the El Paso, TX Library system. They sent me a copy via inter-library loan thereby saving me the $75 bucks a "friend" was going to charge me for their dog chewed mildewy copy. Sometimes I do get lucky.

Since I only wanted to read the book and I am not a collector I am so glad I did not have to pay anything for the book! Because it's not that great. Honestly J. Evetts Haley's narrative prevents the reader from actually enjoying the book. Harvey Bailey deserves another biography. If Haley had just let the tape recorder go and transcribed Bailey's recollections the book probably would have been more enjoyable. I found myself skipping past much of the narrative to get to the quotes.

Harvey Bailey was one of the best; he was a part of one of the greatest heists during the 20's the Denver Mint Robbery. Bailey says that he and his gang had no intention of knocking over the mint courier truck when they were in Denver. They were casing another job when he was called away by a family emergency. The gang left to their own devices thought the Mint's courier truck would be a much better score. I'm not sure if I completely believe that since one of the guards was killed during the robbery he may have been deflecting unwanted legal action. But then again I wasn't there so maybe he wasn't either. He also worked with many of the A list in robbers during his time only to snagged for something he didn't do. Oh well...