J.R. Moehringer has written a fictionalized account of Willie's life entitled Sutton. During his sprees he stole almost two million dollars from 100 banks and spent more than half his life behind bars. He prided himself on his disguises (hence "The Actor") and the fact that he never killed anyone. The book takes the reader on a New York City tour with Sutton, "Reporter" and "Photographer" on Christmas Day, 1969, when the sickly con is released due to good behavior and ill health. As they drive, Sutton relates his life story.
The writing is fast paced and well researched. The contrast between the early 20th century and 1969 is fascinating. The reader can't help but like Willie who was a folk hero to many during his lifetime. He lived during a time when the "cycle of panics, depressions and soaring unemployment" turned people against banks and many rooted for him as a modern day Robin Hood.
Moehringer is the Pulitzer Prize winning writer for the Los Angeles Times whose first book The Tender Bar: A Memoir was named one of the 100 Most Notable Books of 2005 by The New York Times. That book is a poignant account of the author's fatherless childhood whose role models were cohorts of his uncle's at the local watering holes.
Getting back to Sutton's Law and other musings of Sutton's -
On why he robbed banks Willie stated the obvious - "That's where the money is" (although Willie claims he never said that).
On why he carried a gun - "You can't rob a bank on charm and personality".
On his "career" success - "Success in any endeavor requires single-minded attention to detail and total concentration". How true.
For a look into another troubled time check out Sutton.