October 26, 2015 George "Machine Gun" Kelly Is Subject of Book Discussion

FBI’s Hunt for Outlaw Stretched More Than 20,000 Miles

Press Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217
Public Contact: Center for the Book (202) 707-5221

1933 has been called “The Year of Fear” for good reason. Prohibition had led to a precipitous rise in crime, and some of the nation’s most infamous criminals engineered a string of mayhem and lawlessness such as America had never seen. When Prohibition was repealed that year, these criminals looked elsewhere for sources of easy cash.

George “Machine Gun” Kelly and his wife, Kathryn, set their sights on kidnapping. Their target was oilman Charles Urschel. Meanwhile, J. Edgar Hoover, in desperate need of a successful prosecution to impress the new administration and save his job, gave his agents the sole authority to chase kidnappers across state lines. When Kelly bungled the kidnapping, Hoover sensed his big opportunity. The criminals were chased 20,000 miles over the backroads of Depression-era America, crossing 16 state lines and generating headlines along the way.

Joe Urschel documents this chase in “The Year of Fear: Machine Gun Kelly and the Manhunt That Changed the Nation” (Minotaur Books, 2015). He will discuss and sign his book on Tuesday, Nov. 3, at noon in the Mary Pickford Theater, located on the third floor of the Library of Congress James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. This Books & Beyond event is sponsored by the Library’s Center for the Book. It is free and open to the public; no tickets are required.

Urschel is the executive director of the National Law Enforcement Museum, which will be built in Washington, DC. From 1997 to 2010, he served as executive director of the Newseum, a museum about journalism and freedom of speech in Washington, D.C. Urschel is a former managing editor of USA TODAY, where he also served as a senior correspondent and columnist. He has worked for the Detroit Free Press as a reporter, critic and editor. His journalism honors include awards from the National Association of Newspaper Columnists, the National Association of Sunday and Feature Editors and an Emmy.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s first-established federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs, publications and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov.

The Library’s Center for the Book, established by Congress in 1977 to "stimulate public interest in books and reading," is a national force for reading and literacy promotion. A public-private partnership, it sponsors educational programs that reach readers of all ages through its affiliated state centers, collaborations with nonprofit reading-promotion partners and through the Library’s Young Readers Center and the Poetry and Literature Center. For more information, visit www.Read.gov.


PR 15-192
ISSN 0731-3527