Leslie Ibsen Rogge – Wanted Gentleman Bank Robber
I was extremely fortunate to be asked by author Dane Batty, to review his first biography “Wanted Gentleman Bank Robber”. Dane Batty is the maternal nephew of Leslie Ibsen Rogge and remembers his uncle coming in and out of his own life as a child. He remembers the unconditional love shown to Ibsen by his ( Batty’s) own mother (Rogge’s sister) not realising the full extent of Rogge’s adventures until he was older. Batty has put together this biography of his uncle using letters once written between his uncle and Batty’s mother, as well as first hand accounts from Rogge himself.
This biography is a true account of Rogge, who was one of the FBI‘s most elusive criminals. He was known to rob banks in a “gentlemanly” style, amassing many millions of dollars over a thirty years! All the while managing to live a fairly normal if not adventurous life on the run, evading constant FBI and Police surveillance – complete with a family (or two) and a dog.
This story is clearly told with love by Batty who has a relaxed informative writing style. When I found Batty was a technical writer, I worried that I would find information only and not a story. Beautifully and faithfully told, Batty does give us a story and a feeling of connection to Rogge through this biography. For those of us outside the US and not familiar with the story, I found it a little disjointed in parts and had to re-read sections a couple of times to understand where Rogge was, why he was there and how it fitted with the time line.
I love biographies and for me what makes a really good one is the reader’s ability to get to know the person (the subject) – to understand the person that the book is about. I ask myself “why am I interested?” in this biography. I like to learn something of the person that the biography is about so I would have liked to see a bit more about why Rogge was driven to commit so many crimes, why didn’t he seem to understand it was wrong. I wanted to know more about the other people in his life. There are references to Rogge’s friends and family, many of whom had a hard time with the police and FBI, but I would have liked to know more about the reason’s they protected Rogge and that didn’t come across clearly enough for me. Was this guy so charismatic that people were just naturally drawn to him or was he an expert con artist as well? In an early chapter “Learning to Run” I was not sure what happened to his wife and children when he left the property. Good biographies give accounts of other people’s feelings towards the subject, you get to understand the impact that the subject had on other people through their own account and this gives you an insight into the subjects motivations and character. I didn’t find enough of this information and felt that the book could have been further developed in some areas, so it rounded out my experience of Rogge.
I thought that Rogge was extremely unlikable early in the book and was glad to see that he later had some realisation of the cost to others that his actions had caused. Early on, his lack of care for others was staggering and his inability to see that what he was doing was wrong was amazing.
I have read many reviews of this book where readers love the story – and think that Rogge is likable. In some cases reviewers have wanted him to get away without being punished. Clearly it is an enjoyable read for many. My thirteen year old daughter loved the book and read it the instant it arrived! Note: there are some swear words and parents may want to restrict reading of this book to adults.
All that being said, as a first book by Batty it is a good one. The work involved in collecting and collating all the letters and notes from Rogge has been put together well and they do tell a story of adventure, friendship and love.
Worth a look. If you love crime and adventure you will love this! Check out the trailer for the new movie!
MY RATING – 3 STARS = I ‘M GLAD I READ THIS
First published: 2010-06-30 Hillsboro, Oregon US
To buy this biography online, please click here.
Read more about Dane or Rogge http://www.nishpublishing.com/authors/