Parker, Emma, and Nell Barrow Cowan. Fugitives: The Story of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. Dallas, Tx: The Ranger Press, Inc, 1934
Fugitives: The Story of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker is written by Emma Parker, Bonnie Parker’s mother, and Nellie May Cowan, Clyde’s sister. The book is a family account of the turmoil that surrounded the pair as they robbed, murdered and fled across the country for two years. These relatives, however, do not try to vindicate the criminals from their crimes or sell their personalities to emote empathy, but write about them as they believed they were, “they were monsters, they were outlaws, they did unspeakable things. So said the press, so averred the law. The Law and the press were both undoubtedly right” (1).
This account from the outlaws’ family members brings an entirely different feeling to the story of Bonnie and Clyde that either the film of even Treherne’s non-fiction account did. The family members describe the turmoil they suffered between 1932 and 1934. They describe the pair as filled with ideals and yearnings just as the film portrayed them, but completely miserable in their lives as fugitives, “Never for one instant did they experience a joy or a thrill which could possibly compensate them for the living hell which made up their lives. There was never a time, after the chase began, when they would not have traded places with the poorest and humblest couple on earth if they could have had peace and ordinary happiness” (iii). This description of the torment of both the family as well as Bonnie and Clyde themselves defines the two characters in an entirely different way.
Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway became iconic because of their desire to be free, do as they wish and defy authority. Even the yokels within the film revere the two as folk-heroes of sorts. But the descriptions and accounts of family members give the truth behind the film. Bonnie and Clyde were really just sad outcasts, unable to escape from a series of mistakes.