Celia Cooney Book Report

Length: 3 pages Sources: 1 Subject: Criminal Justice Type: Book Report Paper: #62209459 Related Topics: Political Cartoon, Robbery, Jazz, Cults
Excerpt from Book Report :

Duncombe, Stephen. 2005. The Bobbed Haired Bandit. New York: New York University Press.

Stephen Duncombe, an Associate Professor in the Department of Media, Culture and Communications at the Gallatin School of New York University, wrote a true story of a dark-haired woman in Brooklyn in January 1924. He, teaching politics of media and history wrote The Bobbed Haired Bandit to show snippets of 1924 life from the perspective of the small, dark-haired woman robber. The woman wore a fur coat with a beaded dress underneath and as she was about to pay for the eggs and took out an automatic pistol from her coat pocket to rob the grocery store worker. It was here that reader gets to see the scope of not just the story, but also the character. The character and the argument of the book shows how a woman could overcome her circumstances through daring and risky action.

Page 31 provides a perfect example. "Stick 'em up! Quick!'… For a second I thought he wasn't going to do it… Then up they went, both arms together, like one of those monkeys you buy on a stick with a string at the ten cent store."[footnoteRef:1] She then proceeds to think about a toy for her child and soon the author introduces Celia Cooney, a 20-year-old and 3 months pregnant woman (at the time she began her the string robberies) who decides to borrow a car with her husband Ed along with some inexpensive pistols, to rob [1: Duncombe, Stephen. 2005. The Bobbed Haired Bandit. New York: New York University Press, p. 31.]

Several stores across Brooklyn. Her crime spree, a true event in history, terrified business owners throughout the borough.

She even managed to outwit the city's law enforcement and humiliated its political leaders an intense, but brief cultural craze. "The Bobbed-Haired Bandit" was the nickname newspaper writers gave her with added months of speculation on who she was. No one knew her motive or the social significance of her


They suspected she was a woman Robin Hood, or a drug addict, even a cross-dressing criminal. It was a great way for Duncombe to provide a character that in the history of the U.S., moreover Brooklyn, achieve slight cult status and the slow and ineffective police work of the era.


Celia Cooney was a working-class girl who just wanted to taste some of the finer things in life. However, when newspapers covered her story and made her notorious, she decided to ham it up and wear disguises, making sure she left notes behind for the police to discover. She became what some would say is an "antihero" during America's Depression era. Still money from the robberies was not enough to pay the bills and soon the incompetent police force issued instructions to hundreds of officers and volunteer officers to "shoot to kill" on the streets and corners of Brooklyn.

It was when Cooney decided to go big or go home that she ended up escaping to Miami and being arrested two weeks later. Still, that did not stop Cooney from becoming a local hero. Her perp walk outnumbered a presidential event (President Coolidge's welcome event) that very same morning. Even though she and her husband were sentence to 10-20 years in prison, William Randolph Hearst offered her money to write an autobiography on her.

In time however, she was eventually forgotten until Duncombe came across her sensational tale in the archives of the New York State Public Library. From there, Duncombe set off to find out her identity. In those archives, Duncombe amassed numerous stories of Cooney. "There is no 'true' story of the Bobbed Haired Bandit… What is important is the way what happened was interpreted, recorded, instrumentalized, and mobilized."[footnoteRef:2] [2: Duncombe 7]

Celia Cooney was not just used by Duncombe to explore…

Cite this Document:

"Celia Cooney" (2015, April 30) Retrieved January 18, 2022, from

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