The Bobbed Haired Bandit: A True Story of Crime and Celebrity in 1920s New York

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9780814719800: The Bobbed Haired Bandit: A True Story of Crime and Celebrity in 1920s New York
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Ripped straight from the headlines of the Jazz Age, The Bobbed Haired Bandit is a tale of flappers and fast cars, of sex and morality. In the spring of 1924, a poor, 19-year-old laundress from Brooklyn robbed a string of New York grocery stores with a “baby automatic,” a fur coat, and a fashionable bobbed hairdo. Celia Cooney’s crimes made national news, with the likes of Ring Lardner and Walter Lippman writing about her exploits for enthralled readers.

The Bobbed Haired Bandit brings to life a world of great wealth and poverty, of Prohibition and class conflict. With her husband Ed at her side, Celia raised herself from a life of drudgery to become a celebrity in her own pulp-fiction novel, a role she consciously cultivated. She also launched the largest manhunt in New York City's history, humiliating the police with daring crimes and taunting notes.

Sifting through conflicting accounts, Stephen Duncombe and Andrew Mattson show how Celia's story was used to explain the world, to wage cultural battles, to further political interest, and above all, to sell newspapers. To progressives, she was an example of what happens when a community doesn't protect its children. To conservatives, she symbolized a permissive society that gave too much freedom to the young, poor, and female. These competing stories distill the tensions of the time.

In a gripping account that reads like a detective serial, Duncombe and Mattson have culled newspaper reports, court records, interviews with Celia's sons, and even popular songs and jokes to capture what William Randolph Hearst’s newspaper called “the strangest, weirdest, most dramatic, most tragic, human interest story ever told.”

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About the Author:

Stephen Duncombe teaches politics and history of media and culture at the Gallatin School of New York University. He is author of Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture and editor of the Cultural Resistance Reader.

From Publishers Weekly:

Starred Review. In 1924, Celia Cooney, a newly married laundress in Brooklyn, found herself unexpectedly pregnant. The Cooneys' $30-a-week income couldn't support a baby. So Celia and her husband, Ed, began holding up neighborhood drugstores. In this riveting book, the authors, scholars in history and media studies (Duncombe at NYU, Mattson at SUNY–Old Westbury) reconstruct and analyze not only the crime spree but also the ensuing media frenzy. Savvy newspaper editors knew the story of a girl with a gun would sell; they christened Celia the Bobbed Hair Bandit and made her a star. According to the authors, she stood in for the era's anxieties about changing gender roles, her bob a symbol of liberated women. Suddenly, any gal with a bob was seen as a potential threat—even Zelda Fitzgerald was reportedly pulled over by cops and questioned. Once Celia was finally arrested, the public learned about her grueling childhood and negligent mother. Editorialists, including progressive pundit Walter Lippmann, then held Celia up as an example of what happened to poor and abused children when society failed to intervene. Duncombe and Mattson's fast-paced account of Cooney's story is an absolute winner. 40 b&w illus. (Feb.)
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Book Description New York University Press, United States, 2006. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Ripped straight from the headlines of the Jazz Age, The Bobbed Haired Bandit is a tale of flappers and fast cars, of sex and morality. In the spring of 1924, a poor, 19-year-old laundress from Brooklyn robbed a string of New York grocery stores with a baby automatic, a fur coat, and a fashionable bobbed hairdo. Celia Cooney s crimes made national news, with the likes of Ring Lardner and Walter Lippman writing about her exploits for enthralled readers. The Bobbed Haired Bandit brings to life a world of great wealth and poverty, of Prohibition and class conflict. With her husband Ed at her side, Celia raised herself from a life of drudgery to become a celebrity in her own pulp-fiction novel, a role she consciously cultivated. She also launched the largest manhunt in New York City s history, humiliating the police with daring crimes and taunting notes. Sifting through conflicting accounts, Stephen Duncombe and Andrew Mattson show how Celia s story was used to explain the world, to wage cultural battles, to further political interest, and above all, to sell newspapers. To progressives, she was an example of what happens when a community doesn t protect its children. To conservatives, she symbolized a permissive society that gave too much freedom to the young, poor, and female. These competing stories distill the tensions of the time. In a gripping account that reads like a detective serial, Duncombe and Mattson have culled newspaper reports, court records, interviews with Celia s sons, and even popular songs and jokes to capture what William Randolph Hearst s newspaper called the strangest, weirdest, most dramatic, most tragic, human interest story ever told. Seller Inventory # AAJ9780814719800

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Book Description New York University Press, United States, 2006. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Ripped straight from the headlines of the Jazz Age, The Bobbed Haired Bandit is a tale of flappers and fast cars, of sex and morality. In the spring of 1924, a poor, 19-year-old laundress from Brooklyn robbed a string of New York grocery stores with a baby automatic, a fur coat, and a fashionable bobbed hairdo. Celia Cooney s crimes made national news, with the likes of Ring Lardner and Walter Lippman writing about her exploits for enthralled readers. The Bobbed Haired Bandit brings to life a world of great wealth and poverty, of Prohibition and class conflict. With her husband Ed at her side, Celia raised herself from a life of drudgery to become a celebrity in her own pulp-fiction novel, a role she consciously cultivated. She also launched the largest manhunt in New York City s history, humiliating the police with daring crimes and taunting notes. Sifting through conflicting accounts, Stephen Duncombe and Andrew Mattson show how Celia s story was used to explain the world, to wage cultural battles, to further political interest, and above all, to sell newspapers. To progressives, she was an example of what happens when a community doesn t protect its children. To conservatives, she symbolized a permissive society that gave too much freedom to the young, poor, and female. These competing stories distill the tensions of the time. In a gripping account that reads like a detective serial, Duncombe and Mattson have culled newspaper reports, court records, interviews with Celia s sons, and even popular songs and jokes to capture what William Randolph Hearst s newspaper called the strangest, weirdest, most dramatic, most tragic, human interest story ever told. Seller Inventory # AAJ9780814719800

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