Review: Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber by Dane Batty
Publisher: Nish Publishing Company
Age recommendation: Young adult, Adult
Leslie Rogge was No. 7 on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. Throughout his 20-year career as a bank robber, he successfully eluded capture from the authorities time and time again. When caught and put in prison, he escaped. He created many false identities for himself, so much so that initially, the authorities could not pinpoint who the elusive bank robber was. In Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber, he writes about the robbery techniques he used. He tells about how he managed to rob thousands of dollars from banks without firing a single shot. Now serving a sentence that ends in 2047, he reminiscences in the book about his lifestyle as a bank robber with a family.
Before I began reading Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber, I read what other reviewers were saying about it. Many of them were effusive about how they felt sympathy for Leslie after reading the book. After completing the book, I found that I couldn’t feel the same way. I’ll expound more about that, but first, let me do justice to the stories contained in the book.
It’s not about the way the stories were told. In fact, the stories is highly entertaining and fascinating. It’s not often you get to read of the techniques a robber use to rob a bank of thousands of dollars. And without even firing a single shot! That is quite a feat although I can’t really believe that Leslie would not resort to violence if bank staff had alerted the police while he was in the midst of robbing. I can’t buy his “I’d just walk away”, not after reading his criminal exploits. The stories in Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber are some of the most interesting stories I’ve ever read in non-fiction books. Leslie gives a no holds barred look into the lifestyle of a serial bank robber. He details the tactics he used when robbing banks, and one thing I’m sure is that I hope that a wannabe robber doesn’t pick up this book and improvise on the tactics for his own usage!
In Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber, all is done to ensure that readers will have a measure of sympathy towards Leslie. This and the “gentleman” title of the book is a strong negative point for me. I can never understand how Leslie can be considered a gentleman bank robber. He preyed on female bank officers. How does that make him gentlemanly? Women are more easily frightened than man, and I can just imagine the trauma his victims went through. I could also not feel a teeny bit of sympathy for him because he robbed to obtain easy money. There’s nothing respectable about that. Disabled people beg by the roadside to earn honest money. Leslie, as a person who isn’t disabled, should feel ashamed of himself for not wanting to work hard to provide for himself the good lifestyle he enjoyed.
At the conclusion of the book, I couldn’t help but feel pity. I pitied Leslie that he isn’t sorry for the atrocities of his so-called harmless crimes. How hard can a criminal be to defend himself on the basis that he did not use violence? I pitied his victims. The shock and fear they must have felt is enough to make a gentlemanly man feel sorry. I pitied his family. Up to now, I still cannot figure how they can be accepting of his acts. I know that condemnation from their part would lead him to nowhere, but how his wife could live with the fact that her husband hurt other women indirectly is beyond me.
I don’t know much about the laws of United States, but I couldn’t help wondering why those who knew what he was doing could not be brought to court for perverting the course of justice. I know things aren’t that simple, but if you know your husband or family member or friend is robbing banks, and you intentionally keep that a secret, aren’t you aiding and abetting him? What happened to their consciences? Did Leslie hold such sway and influence over them that they were willing to protect a criminal who was no. 7 on the FBI’s Most Wanted List?
Do I regret reading Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber? No. Yet, reading it has left behind an unpleasant taste. If Leslie is released today, would he continue the criminal lifestyle? After reading the unrepentant overtones in the book, I’m not sure that he wouldn’t. I hope and wish that no one is inspired to go on robbing sprees after reading this book. The book sure does make the criminal lifestyle sound thrilling and fun. I am willing to forgo reading a book glamorizing a robber’s life since the last thing we need is more robbers because of one entertaining book written mostly by an ungentlemanly robber who used ingenuity.
Dane Batty is the maternal nephew of Leslie Rogge. Batty put together this autobiography/biography of his uncle using letters written from Rogge to Batty’s mother, accounts recounted to him by Rogge’s close acquaintances, and research done on court documents, testimonials, newspaper articles, and TV shows. Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber won the 2011 Reviewers Choice Award and Pinnacle Book Achievement Award. It is the Finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”