Ten Thousand Public Enemies

by Courtney Ryley Cooper
[Little, Brown, $3.00]
CRIME and criminals are subjects with a very definite fascination for the average citizen, whose interest in them, however, too often does not include any realization of his own individual civic responsibility.
This book is a most timely contribution to the movement, sponsored by those best informed concerning crime conditions, which is attempting to arouse public opinion in support of law-enforcement agencies. To enable these agencies to combat modern crime effectively, the American public must be definitely on the side of law enforcement, and against the criminal. Mr. Cooper brings out forcibly the fact that the underworld is as successful as it is largely because of the present attitude of society as a whole.
The big criminals of to-day know where to find aid in any large city; where guns and ammunition may be purchased; the names of crooked bankers, brokers, lawyers, and others who will act as fences for the disposal of stolen automobiles, bonds, and money; and what doctors and hospitals will take care of wounded comrades and keep it a secret. They know what communities are controlled by crooked politicians and who these politicians are. They know where to hide out until the ‘heat.’ subsides.
A fact not generally realized is that the dangerous criminal of to-day is not an ignorant, unshaven foreigner who lives in the slums and goes forth at night to prey upon society. Read the list of our foremost public enemies during the past few years: Clyde Barrow, John Dillinger, John Hamilton, Harvey Bailey, Frank Nash, Verne Miller, George Kelley, Harvey Pierpont, Russell Clark, Eddie Green, Bernard Phillips — good American names. Furthermore, the author brings out vividly how they live — not in tenements or dives, but in our best communities, circulating among reputable citizens and on such terms and to such an extent that their neighbors refuse to believe that they are anything but innocent and honest citizens like themselves.
Modern crime is no longer local, and the vivid account of the far-reaching activities of gangs brings out their nation-wide aspect. All through the book the reader’s attention is constantly directed to his own very definite responsibility for the existence of corrupt political control of police and communities; of juries that won’t convict; of witnesses who won’t testify; of citizens who won’t report suspicious persons or actions to the police for fear of becoming involved; of judges who will not punish adequately; and of institutions of punishment and correction which neither punish nor correct and which cannot be relied on even to confine.
Underlying all and interwoven throughout the book is the story of the growth and activities of the Division of Investigation of the Department of Justice, as developed through the genius of J. Edgar Hoover. In this bureau have been collected 4,800,000 fingerprint cards, representing 3,000,000 known criminals in the United States, of whom 10,000 constitute a list of our known public enemies, each of them the leader or potential leader of a ruthless and cruel gang of outlaws. Mr. Hoover’s fundamental principle is that of always getting his man, through an organization carefully selected, intelligently trained, and equipped with modern weapons and modern facilities. He has adopted the sound policy that all law-enforcing bodies should forget petty jealousies and work together in their common warfare against the underworld.
It would have been helpful had an index been provided, in a book based primarily on facts, but this fascinating account of the life, activities, and eventual downfall of these outlaws is not only extremely readable and illuminating, but constitutes a powerful argument for public support of police agencies. It should be of material assistance in the elevation of state and municipal police to higher levels of efficiency, and in a better understanding and appreciation of their problems by an unenlightened and apathetic public.
DANIEL NEEDHAM