Blessed Are the Bank Robbers: The True Adventures of an Evangelical Outlaw

Abrams. Mar. 2022. 272p. ISBN 9781419754739. $26. CRIME
Smith (Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell) tells the story of his bank robber cousin Danny Courson. Smith and Courson were brought up in a close-knit Baptist family of preachers, and Courson was the favorite grandchild. Courson started robbing banks to fund a gambling addiction, but eventually substituted theft for the thrill of gambling, as he robbed more than 40 banks over the course of his career. Courson was caught by law enforcement, served his time, and eventually robbed again, which forced him to live as a fugitive before he was apprehended once more. His correspondence with Smith provides intriguing insights into his methodology and mindset. Smith examines aspects of his cousin’s character in an attempt to analyze Courson’s behavior. He looks into their shared religious upbringing, gambling addiction, fugitives, and famous bank robberies, and muses on the role of the media in romanticizing stories of bank robbers and felons. Throughout, Smith reflects on his own need for adventure and rebellion; the book has a contemplative feel.
VERDICT A fascinating exploration that will appeal to those who appreciate the intersection of true crime and memoir.
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