Book Reviews for Wanted
“Leslie Rogge is an island in the stream of spell binding ultimates, a place where wild men playfully challenge the system, a place where desperado winds swirl a thousand lifetimes into a breeze. Your uncle (Les) and I are superimposed curious and overgrown children indulging urges resentful of feels pretending to be adults.
We are hipster medieval knights in pursuit of erudite high cheek boned nymphs drinking in full to the essence of extraordinary while surfing the edge of consciousness loving the hellish totality of fear.”
George Jung, subject of book and movie “Blow” – www.georgejung.com
Midwest Book Review Criminology Shelf:
Who says you can’t be a nice guy and a criminal at the same time? “Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber, The True Story of Leslie Ibsen Rogge, One of the FBI’s Most Elusive Criminals” is the story of Rogge, a man who by much speculation has knocked over more banks than many famed outlaws put together. Captured twice and escaping, but never harming anyone, “Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber” is certainly an engaging story of the other side of the law, highly recommended.
Oregonian, New in the Northwest: ‘Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber’ by Dane Batty
What do you do when your uncle is a bank robber? In Dane Batty’s case, you enlist his help to write a book. “Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber: The True Story of Leslie Ibsen Rogge, One of the FBI’s Most Elusive Criminals” is about a man who robbed nearly 30 banks over 20 years. Rogge grew up in Seattle, where he started his career by stealing cars. Calm and polite during his heists, he earned the nickname “The Gentleman Bandit.” He also ended up on the FBI’s Most Wanted List and the TV show “America’s Most Wanted.” Hiding out in Guatemala, Rogge was eventually spotted by a teenager who recognized his picture on the World Wide Web. Batty, unapologetic about his uncle’s exploits, lives near Portland.
– Katie Schneider, Oregonian, October 23, 2010
Dennis Littrell – Amazon Top 50 reviewer
“This is the kind of true crime story that you seldom get to read since it is essentially written by the perp himself, and perps usually don’t bother putting their tale to print because convicted felons by law can’t benefit financially from their stories.
I say “essentially” since onetime top ten most wanted criminal, “gentleman” bank robber Leslie Ibsen Rogge’s writings have been organized, edited and annotated by his–let’s face it–adoring nephew Dane Batty. Batty writes an intro, and comes on page from time to time to give some information or to set a scene amidst the fascinating narrative written by Rogge. I read the book in two settings. More devoted true crime readers will stay up until two in the morning and do it in one setting!
So here we have a guy who has several gifts. Obviously he has the gift of gab and is really a first class con artist as he proves again and again by talking people into doing things they normally would never do. Rogge is especially good at negotiating “deals” with cars, boats, house trailers–anything that can be traded or resold. He talks one idiot into helping him escape for a promise of $50,000 that Rogge says he has buried in California and will send to him (right). He talks his way across borders and out of scrapes and into the hearts of strangers. But he saves his best spiel for bank managers–always female, by the way, since Rogge realized (correctly) that they are less likely to feel the urge to play hero and try to stop the robbery in progress. His MO was to call ahead and arrange a meeting with the bank manager. He would arrive in a nice neat suit and tie with a fancy briefcase, sit down, take out a robbery note and hand it to the manager. He would say something like “don’t turn this into a homicide” and part his suit coat enough to show a gun handle. He would set a police scanner on the desk and advise against tripping any alarms under the threat of getting shot. Amazingly enough this worked almost thirty times to the tune of over $2-million.
Another of Rogge’s gifts is that of the consummate handyman. He’s the kind of guy who can figure out how to operate or fix just about anything mechanical or electrical. He taught himself how to hot wire cars and drive them when he was just a kid. Later apparently taught himself how to fly airplanes and sail sailboats. He managed to fix boat and car engines, even airplane and one helicopter engine with no formal training. Too bad he didn’t just concentrate on using that one skill. Actually he does, near the end of the book, while on the run in Guatemala. He becomes “Mr. Fix It” in the ex-pat gringo community in Antigua, where he and his common law wife Judy are living an idyllic life. At this point one begins to feel real sympathy for Rogge. He has given up robbing banks and is ripping off no one because in such a tight knit ex-pat community everybody knows everybody and you can’t afford to get a bad rep.
A third Rogge gift is just pure ballsyness. He literally has the nerves of a burglar. In a sense his bank robberies were more con jobs and burglaries than holdups. He conned his way inside, had what he wanted put in bags and he carried it out. The key was his very careful casing of the banks and his careful planning of how to get away. He always had at least two vehicles for the escape. One was the getaway car (usually stolen), which he and his sometimes accomplice would quickly abandon for the second vehicle which might be an SUV, a motor home, a boat or even an airplane. He would listen on the police scanner (which he had practiced listening to days before the robbery) to know just what the police were up too, when the alarm had sounded and where the police thought he was going.
Finally Rogge had great natural social skills. He knew how to make people like him and trust him. Nobody ever turned him in, not even for the $25,000 reward money. Friends sent him money when he was in need and helped him out when he was on the run, no questions asked. Les Rogge is the classic example of a criminal who could have been a great success in life pursuing any one of a number of other careers.
Another of the ironies of his life is that he often got into trouble for his generosity. Once he befriended an out-of-work hitchhiker who went on to steal his money and his car. And friends would sometimes inadvertently help the FBI reconnect to his trail. In the final insult, he helps a kid in Guatemala set up his computer connection only to have the kid spot him on the Internet as one of America’s Most Wanted. The kid clicks on a site, the FBI is alerted and the kid tells all he knows and not long after Rogge (in order to save his beloved Judy from an aiding and abetting charge) turns himself in.
This is not your polished Ann Rule or Edward Humes true crime sort of tale, but for all that it is just as interesting as something from the masters of the genre. Dane Batty has done a great (if somewhat amateurish) job of allowing his uncle to present himself in a way that turns his first-person escapades into a rounded tale of human strength and weakness, of a life well and poorly spent, about a man part hero and part villain. The only weakness in the book is what is missing. Relying almost entirely on Rogge’s recounting of events ensures that the deeper, darker side of his life reminds untold.”
Dennis Littrell – Amazon Top 50 reviewer http://tinyurl.com/34ys5pz
True Crime Book Reviews, Bad Boy, Nice Guy JUNE 23, 2010
A week from today a breath of fresh air is hitting the true crime book shelves in the form of debut author Dane Batty’s Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber: The True Story of Leslie Ibsen Rogge.
Batty has spent a great deal of time promoting his book and I’d been keeping a watch on other’s reviews, thinking it was a story I was interested in. So when Batty offered to send me an advanced reader’s copy for review, I willingly accepted.
But you never know what you’re going to get with first time authors. Often they have an excellent story to tell, just not much of a knack for telling it.
That is NOT the case here.
Batty doesn’t actually tell Leslie Rogge’s story; he has an inside scoop since Rogge is his maternal uncle.
Rogge tells his own story with a few commentaries from Batty thrown in for a relative’s point-of-view.
And, let me tell you, Rogge may be a guy who stole an estimated $2 million in his career as a bank robber, but the guy sure knows how to tell a story.
Rogge skips all the childhood memories and delves right into his days of ripping off banks in a very gentlemanly fashion.
He never used violence to get the cash. His crimes involved no high speed chases.
No, they were about as lax as you’re going to see with this serious of a crime.
When Rogge wasn’t “sticking it to the man,” he was sailing the world with his wife, Judy – who at first was oblivious to Rogge’s source of income.
Written by Rogge as if he was talking directly to you, readers are invited to hear about his travels, his misdeeds, and a view into life on the lam.
I can’t think of another time that I’ve wanted so much for the bad guy to get a way; to have a happy ending.
Some people are just natural born story tellers with great stories to tell. Some people do bad things, but they’re the nicest folks in the world; willing to give you the shirt off their back in your time of need.
Leslie Rogge is one of them, and Batty has done a SUPERB job of compiling these stories into a book that’s difficult to put down.
Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber: The True Story of Leslie Ibsen Rogge hits the shelves on Wednesday, June 30, 2010. Go ahead and pre-order this item because it’s one that you MUST read!
To learn more about Dane Batty and Leslie Rogge, view photos, listen to sound clips, and more visitwww.nishpublishing.com.
By Kim Cantrell, True Crime Book Reviews www.truecrimebookreviews.com/
So He Stole $2 Million From 30 Banks — Leslie Rogge’s Book Is As Much Fun As ‘Butch Cassidy’
When I opened this book, a five-dollar bill fell out.
That seemed just right.
Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber carries a subtitle that’s so long it almost announces that the book is self-published: The True Story of Leslie Ibsen Rogge, One of the FBI’s Most Elusive Criminals.
And while most of it is written by the bank robber himself, the nominal author is not a professional writer — he’s Dane Batty, Rogge’s much younger, totally adoring nephew.
The book had, in short, all the ingredients for a self-serving adventure story that just happened to fudge the morality of a life story that has the protagonist robbing around 30 banks for a score of about $2 million.
Still, I began to read it — $5 buys a few minutes of my reading time.
I finished this 208-page book several hours later, having long forgotten the payola that got me started.
“Wanted” is, simply, a blast: funny, self-aware, amazingly informative about bank robbery, boats, cars, planes and — far from least — human nature. [To buy the paperback from Amazon, click here.]
Best of all, there’s not an apologetic line in it. Oh, sure, Leslie Rogge might have taken his considerable talents and put them to a use that was of benefit to Society — but the thing is, he was pretty much born for the life of crime.
“A job?” Hunter Thompson wrote. “But how would I make any money?”
That could have been Leslie Rogge’s motto.
Want a deep psychological dive into his childhood? Forget it. Rogge stole his first car at 13. In high school, he swiped his father’s credit cards and an under-aged girl. The judge said, “I’ll give you four choices — now pick a service.” He chose the Navy. “For the boats.”
Remember the ’67 Cadillac Eldorado? Guys wanted them so badly they were willing to pay a premium. Rugge managed to find several. Soon, he says, he was making $30-35,000 a week. Okay, so he did some time for transporting stolen vehicles and his wife fled with the kids — his second wife would have a better sense of humor.
A police scanner led him to bank robbery. As he analyzed the crime, the trick was to have two getaway cars. Rob the bank, be seen fleeing in one, ditch it, and roll on in the second car, all the while listening to the police go the wrong way.
The victims were mostly small banks, with women as managers. “Let’s not turn this into a homicide,” he’d say, and, being less inclined to heroics than men, the women complied. Later, in the getaway car, he’d set off “a can of WD-40 with a rubber band holding down the button.” Why? To fog up the interior, removing all fingerprints. (Sometimes the getaway car was a small, stolen plane.) Good times!
Foolish? Not our Les. (His friends? Sometimes. “Wild Bill got caught at the Mexican border in a flame-red Cadillac Eldorado with the top down, a nineteen-year-old blonde hooker and a kilo of heroin in the A/C duct.”) He was practical and thoughtful, and not really hooked on the thrill of crime: “It always seemed that when I ran out of plans, I’d start thinking of banks to rob. Then, with a case of money, things would seem to just come together.”
His third wife liked boats, and cruising the Caribbean in a big sailboat, and lazy travel on the Mississippi in a houseboat, and she wasn’t freaked out by Rogge’s occupation. Which makes for good reading, because the centerpiece of the book is a life right out of a Jimmy Buffett song.
Minor inconvenience: Rogge is arrested, tried, convicted.
Solution: Just before he’s about to be transferred to prison, he just… walks out the door.
By now, Rogge’s in Butch Cassidy territory — whatever his crimes, he’s a lot more interesting than the straights who want to lock him up. You will not be thrilled when, in 1990, he makes the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list. But he thinks fast, moves faster.
Run, Les, run!
Oops. The inevitable occurs. “My trial was bullshit. Of course I was guilty, but they didn’t play fair.”
You can find Leslie Rogge now in a medium security prison in Beaumont, Texas. He’s due to be released in 2047. If alive, he’ll be 107.
There’s no way to read this book and not think, as you close it, “What a waste of my tax dollars.”
Jesse Kornbluth 9-20-10 Head Butler http://tinyurl.com/2bv6dzd
Will readers will share in the author’s enthusiasm for his career criminal relative, who robbed almost 30 banks from the 1970s to the 1990s across the United States, as well as escaping from jail? Batty’s account of his uncle, Leslie Ibsen Rogge, is cobbled together from interviews and letters written by Rogge. And while some anecdotes about him may have garnered laughs at family get-togethers, they are likely to leave readers cold. Batty minimizes the harm Rogge caused. Not only did his victims suffer substantial financial loss, but those he threatened to kill felt real terror, even if Rogge never actually resorted to violence. Rather than presenting a balanced account of his uncle’s life, the author simply repeats what a nice guy Rogge is and how his friends stood by him even when they learned of his crimes. While some lack of balance is to be expected, Batty goes too far–even criticizing the FBI for interviewing people after those people had spoken to the fugitive.
Reviewed on: 10/17/2011
Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber is the true life account of Leslie Ibsen Rogge, career criminal, bank robber extraordinaire, and one of the FBI’s Most Wanted.
Ever watch a movie where you’re rooting for the “bad” guy? Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber was like that for me. A delightfully entertaining read from the criminal’s perspective. Les was charming and talented with machinery, cars, boats, computers, even airplanes and helicopters! If Les had put those charms and talents to use for less nefarious purposes you have to wonder just what he could’ve accomplished, but then we’d have been deprived of a great story. Les, and later his wife Judy, lived large.
This is true crime lit with a sense of humor. It’s fun and exciting. You can vicariously experience life on the run. And the adventures! Navigating the Mississippi in a houseboat, not exactly idyllic nor is it something I personally would want to do, but what a trip. Diving off coast of South America with friends coming across old stainless steel milk jugs filled with money. Les chose not to go back with his friends when they returned to get the remaining jugs; smart decision. He waited several months but they never came back. Sailing in tropical waters, driving through Mexico and Guatemala, where they finally settle near the end. The time the military in Guatemala decided to burn about a ton of pot, gotta make it look good I guess, and everyone turned out to watch, downwind of course. As the wind shifted so did the people!
Les and Judy met some of the greatest characters I’ve ever seen outside of fiction. I’d really like to know how the blind guy always knew the denomination and country of the bills he received. He never missed and he was just one of the many disarmingly eccentric and wonderful people they encountered.
Les and Judy also had plenty of memorable pets. Ola the spider monkey, Pepper the Chihuahua, Truly the wolf, and the mini-wienies Choco Bananno and his sister, Choco Mania.
Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber, is a fun, exciting, and memorable reading experience. It’s definitely a don’t miss non-fiction book.
RJ Does Books!
Rating: 3.5/5 (rounded to 4)
A highly interesting account of Leslie Rogge, aka “Gentleman Bank Robber” who robbed more than 30 banks.
These books are usually not my type of reads. I am very selective with the nonfiction genre, so it was interesting seeing how I would like this one. It was definitely an intriguing look into the life of of Rogge. For me, it’s really hard to review a non-fiction book because you cannot say much without giving away too much of what readers should read. What I can say is that I enjoyed having a look into the life and crimes of a Bank Robber, and recommend it to those who are interested in reading the same!
Audacious Reader Review, 1/17/2012
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.”
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I found this book very entertaining and incredibly interesting. I was intrigued immediately when I read the prologue and realized that Les Rogge is actually Dane Batty’s uncle. After understanding the personal connection between Dane and Les I knew this book was going to be more about showing the personal side of Les and less about the actual robberies themselves. I wasn’t disappointed at all. Les isn’t what you would consider a violent criminal or a tough felon; in fact, I am more inclined to compare him to a con artist and general thief. He stole cars and vans and boats. He robbed banks without the use of a weapon. He traveled a lot and toyed with the authorities until he was finally caught. He played a game and took it as far as he could before he got caught and, even then, he escaped multiple times.
I can understand why so many people liked Les and why he was able to get so many people to cover for him or help him out. If you didn’t know about his bank robberies and thieving ways I am sure he would have been a lot of fun to hang around. He was always up for an adventure. He tried to take a houseboat UP the Mississippi river, he traveled with his girlfriend and her son through the Bahamas and surrounding islands for months, he played jokes and pranks on people, at one point he even owned a spider monkey. He was like a kid that just never grew up. He wasn’t a great guy though because he did have two kids with his first wife that he never really spent much time with and even states, on multiple occasions, that he sent them gifts to try to “buy” their love again. He would take a firearm into the bank robberies with him to intimidate the staff and he would prey on the banks that were female-only because they were less likely to cause trouble. He was a sneaky, conniving, low-down thief but, after reading this book, I do not think that he would have been violent toward anyone. He didn’t strike me as a physically violent person. In many ways he made me think of Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in that movie, “Catch Me If You Can.”
The book mostly shares all letters and stories as told by Les himself. Dane includes little side notes here and there to fill in missing data or to clarify details but it mostly reads as Les telling his adventures. He talks about robbing a bank, getting the money, and then he goes on to tell all of the things that he did with that money. It was fascinating and I enjoyed it immensely.
Avoision, May 20th, 2011
Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber is the true story of Leslie Ibsen Rogge who, during the span of two decades, did the unthinkable: he robbed over 30 banks, stole over $2M, appeared on “America’s Most Wanted”, and spent over a decade eluding the FBI while on their Top Ten List. And he did all of it without hurting anyone.
A sample chapter of the book is available online, and it’s a fascinating insight into how Rogge planned a bank robbery. Well, two actually (he decided robbing a second bank would be a good idea, while the cops were busy reacting to the first one).
It’s a fairly detailed account, and it’s this attention to the particulars that makes reading about Rogge’s lifestyle so fascinating. While Rogge carried a gun, the most he ever did was show off his holster. His typical approach would be to dress in a suit, contact the bank manager and relocate into his or her office. There, he would alert the manager that his intention was to rob the bank.
As she sat down, I handed her an envelope from my suit inside pocket. She took the envelope and opened it. As she did, I started to arrange my equipment on her desk starting with the two-way radio. Then as she looked up from the note with questions on her face, I pulled the scanner out of my other pocket and set it on the desk with a twist of the knob to show her it was on.
I gave her my “Don’t turn this into a homicide” speech; that I wasn’t alone and was monitoring her alarm system and the police, and should a call come through I would shoot her.
I have to admit – based off of this online excerpt, I ended up ordering the book. I read through it pretty quickly, and enjoyed it… but it was hit and miss. It was a good book. Not great, but good. There were several moments where the overall storyline got me all turned around, and a few sections that were unnecessarily confusing. But if you overlook that, the book did a good job recounting Rogge’s adventures, and followed along his lengthy criminal career – robbing banks and living on the run.
Dane Batty (who is Rogge’s nephew) does a decent job converting his uncle’s stories and letters into a first person account. I truly think the book would have been much, much better had he gotten a different/better editor… but if you enjoyed the excerpt, you might enjoy the book.
It’s difficult not to compare Rogge with Frank Abagnale. While perhaps not as glamorous, Rogge’s criminal acumen was no less impressive. Both seemed to share a certain knack for eluding authorities, and did so for an incredibly long, long time.
Felix Jung – www.avoision.com
Reviewed by Cherie Jung
The actual, full title of this book is Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber: The True Story of Leslie Ibsen Rogge, One of the FBI’s Most Elusive Criminals but we’ll just go by a shortened version, WANTED: GENTLEMAN BANK ROBBER. The full title is a bit unruly and frankly, gives the book a rather amateurish feel.
WANTED: GENTLEMAN BANK ROBBER chronicles the exploits of Leslie Ibsen Rogge, nicknamed “The Gentleman Bandit,” a man responsible for nearly thirty bank robberies over a twenty-year span. He escaped from the authorities three times and landed on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted List at number seven. He eluded the authorities for 10 years before surrendering. He traveled widely and enjoyed life with his wife.
The author, Dane Batty, is Rogge’s nephew. Much of the source material is from Rogge himself, via letters written to his sister (Batty’s mother) of his exploits.
As crime goes, it’s refreshing to read the adventures and exploits of a criminal that plied his trade without resorting to violence. Of course it wasn’t all fun and games. He is confined to prison now. He’s nearly 70 years old, serving a 65-year sentence. And although I am on the side of law and justice, I would love to see this crafty gentleman escape again!
WANTED: GENTLEMAN BANK ROBBER will not only appeal to true crime fans but to anyone who enjoys a good old-fashioned tale of adventure. It is a quick, entertaining read. Perfect for light summer reading, although once the reader begins, it will be difficult to put the book aside until the final page has been read.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Book Review: Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber – By Dane Batty
Dane Batty, the author of Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber: The true story of Leslie Ibsen Rogge, one of the FBI’s most elusive criminals, reached out to me to ask if I would do a review of his book. I get these from time-to-time and try not to pass up the chance.
I wasn’t disappointed.
This book is a trade paperback book from Nish Publishing Company and from what I can see, this is Dane’s first book. Sometimes this throws up some red flags. Adding to this, he is the nephew of the subject of the book. My apprehension level was pretty high as you can imagine.
Most true crime books are about murders and they have a pattern of sorts. You start with the crime itself – usually with a scene of brutality to pull in the readers. Then there is the search for the killer, the capture, the trial (if there is one) and the closure. I’m not knocking this genre, I write in it myself. The pattern is one that should be familiar to most readers of true crime.
This book is different though. It is not about a murderer or serial killer, but a bank robber. Batty starts out with a robbery, enough to whet our appetites, the pulls us into the story itself.
The book is written in two voices, the author (Batty) and that of Leslie Rogge outlining his robbing lifestyle. I was a little torn on the writing at first. Rogge doesn’t give any context to his crimes, he tends to write what he was thinking, what he saw, and what he did. We don’t get the usual flavor for the scenes that a polished professional writer provides. Batty’s sections are fairly small and he misses a chance to provide some context and detail that would have enhanced the story. That was my only disappointment with the book, and it is one I found myself moving past.
This is the story of how a man traveled around the country (and the world) robbing banks. He was not a violent robber. His style was subdued and not severely threatening. Rogge would wear a suit into the bank and carry a briefcase with a police scanner. He would schedule a meeting with the bank manager and rob the vault quickly without a lot of panic or grandstanding.
What the reader gets in this book is a blueprint on robbing a bank in the 1980’s and 90’s. Rogge is not a likeable character at all. He seems almost sociopathic, not caring about the terror he inflicted on others. People took him in to help him when he was down and his pattern was to turn and take advantage of them, often robbing them as well. There isn’t a hint of remorse on his part for what he did or the consequences of his activities. My aunt and cousin work in banks that have been robbed and trust me, it does emotionally traumatize people to go through it. Rogge commits this crime with wild abandon and seems to think it was fun. The fact that he showed a weapon to people and threatened to turn the robbery into a homicide doesn’t seem to faze him in the least.
Rogge’s family was under constant surveillance by the police who were hunting him down, but Rogge does not seem to care. For him the world was a playground where he took advantage of the people and situations around him without a second thought. At one point I put down the book and realized that he had his girlfriend and her young boy with him while he’s fleeing the FBI dragnet and continuing to rob banks. Yet from his own words, he never seems to give that any thought.
And yet, I couldn’t put this book down!
I wanted to hate Rogge, but found myself fascinated with his lack of guilt for his actions and the way he planned his robberies. This book puts you in the mind of a professional bank robber, a man who did it often and got away with incredible amounts of money. It disturbed me that people like him walked the planet…but at the same time I had to keep reading. There was no one in the book I was championing, not a single law enforcement officer was interviewed for the book. As much as you end up disliking Rogge, you keep reading to see just what he’ll do next.
With all respect to the author, I don’t think that Rogge was a “gentleman robber.” However reading about him exposes a character unlike any I have read about in recent years – a man devoid of care about others. Someone could get their doctorate degree by writing a paper about the quirks of his personality. Dane Batty’s brought us a good tale here and you should pick it up. Wanted is not your typical true crime fare. Despite its weaknesses, I found myself driven to finish it and I think you will too. Pick it up and be prepared to enter a world that few of us ever see or can even comprehend – the mind of a serial bank robber. You will never enter a bank again and not look around at the patrons and wonder what is really going on, wondering if that man sitting at the manager’s desk is actually robbing the bank.
Go buy this book.
Posted by Blaine Pardoe
By susannemoore 11-1-11
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!
MY RATING – 3 STARS = I ‘M GLAD I READ THIS
An Adventure in Sailing And Robbing Banks
Dane Batty has an uncle whose occupation is a bit unusual. And dangerous. And very, very illegal. What does the uncle do for a living? He robs banks. At least he used to until he finally surrendered and was sent to prison.
The uncle’s name is Leslie Ibsen Rogge, better known in the mainstream press as the “Gentleman Bank Robber.” Rogge eluded the FBI and state authorities for a number of years.
Rogge’s story has now been documented in a book by his nephew Dane. The title of the books is Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber: The True Story of Leslie Ibsen Rogge, One of the FBI’s Most Elusive Criminals. It is being published by Nish Publishing Company, a small footprint publishing house founded by Batty.
The book begins with an introduction. It tells the reader about Les Rogge having stolen over $ 2 million dollars from banks around the U.S. during a twenty-year period. The introduction also explains Dane’s association with Les and why the book was written.
With a few exceptions, the book is told from Les’ perspective. There are a couple times during the book where an attorney or friend is quoted. There are also remembrances from Judy, who was Les’s common law wife. And the author interjects some tidbits once in a while.
The book begins with Les describing the details of a bank robbery in the Baton Rouge area. Along with a partner he robbed two banks within an hour of each other. The two banks were on opposite sides of town, making it confusing for the police. This retelling of the robberies pretty much sets the tone for the book; detailed descriptions of what happened and the results; loot wise and otherwise.
The book takes the reader through a bit of Les’s history, growing up with an alcoholic father who was a sometimes too strict disciplinarian. We learn how Les stole his first car and how his father messed him around on others. Then he got into stealing cars and reselling them. That type of crime led to the first of several times Les would end up in prison.
Then the book begins its roller coaster ride of the years of bank robberies that Les committed. Along the way we learn about how he had his own family, whom he later lost through divorce. The wife apparently couldn’t deal with a husband whose occupation was robbing banks.
The techniques that Les employed for robbing banks were pretty much non violent. He would threaten to have a bomb and on occasion would show the butt of a gun or the like to infer that he was a dangerous man. Les would fake out the bank personnel with boxes that had lights on them and other electronic looking things. Les would claim that the boxes were alarm scanners and he would know if someone in the bank tripped a silent alarm.
But Les was not all work and no play. It seems that somewhere down the line Les learned to fly a plane. And he also became an astute sailor. In fact, he loved being on the water so much, that he owned several boats of different sizes over the years.
We learn about loves lost and found for Les. He picked up a second wife and lived with her in eastern Washington State for a while. Then later Les took up with a southern waitress named Judy and her son Lee. As he was quite the charmer, Les became a member of Judy’s family, a surrogate son to her parents.
Speaking of being a charmer, Les didn’t seem to be lacking for friends. The book shows how Les had friends who would hide him from the police and lie about even seeing him. People gave him money and shelter and sometimes even sold him stuff that ended up being used in his robberies.
Les seemed to be one of those criminals who can hide in plain sight. He didn’t have hideouts and secret lairs. For the most part, Les lived out in the open. Most of his neighbors never knew about his bank robbing background.
But the reader finds out that the longer Les stayed at large, the more dangerous things were becoming. For not only him, but for close friends and family members who were being constantly questioned about him. Not only were there law enforcement flyers distributed about him, Les ended up on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. And the television show America’s Most Wanted seemed to have picked Les as their favorite criminal to spotlight.
The stories in the book tend to put Les in a somewhat favorable light. Although he wasn’t like Robin Hood and giving away to the poor, there was a certain amount of enjoyment that people had when finding out their buddy Les was robbing banks.
That’s what’s particularly wrong with Les Rogge’s career choice. As long as nobody gets hurt or killed in a bank robbery, the general public doesn’t think too much about it. A certain element of the public might even revel in the fact that a bank got robbed in light of the banking collapse and subsequent financial scandals. And this book pretty much glamorizes Les’s bank robbing days. But at the end of the day, Les Rogge was still a criminal; a career criminal at that. The author just doesn’t dwell on that side of the coin for any length at all.
Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber is an entertaining true crime story. Dane Batty did a good job with Les’s retelling of his life as a bank robber. The reader gets to see that not every bank robber is a hyped up junkie or some soul so desperate to keep his family afloat that robbing a bank is the only option. Les Rogge was cool under pressure and had a pretty smart playbook for robbing banks.
Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber: The True Story of Leslie Ibsen Rogge, One of the FBI’s Most Elusive Criminals is available at traditional bookstores and online retailers like amazon.com
Basil and Spice
“On January 24, 1990, Les Rogge’s name was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List. Rogge was wanted for over 30 bank robberies, from which he made away with over $2 million.
Rogge was a self-taught bank robber of prodigious talent and gentle manners. He never used a gun. Instead, he employed intelligence, finesse, and a knack for doing the improbable. And he tells his story in Wanted.
And what a story!
Starting out as a car thief, Rogge was making tons of money funneling stolen vehicles through a Seattle car dealership. Then “the hammer came down.” Hit with the charge of “transporting stolen vehicles,” Rogge was sentenced to prison. After he was released, Rogge hooked up with another former prisoner named Fat Joe. Fat Joe talked Rogge into helping him rob a bank. Rogge’s split of the swag was $15,000. This was Rogge’s ‘cusp of transition.’ From that point on, he never looked back.
Essentially, Rogge heard the Siren’s Song of excitement and easy money. He couldn’t resist. By comparison, any other way of life seemed dull and boring. Rogge made his choice. Rogge knew what he was doing. Rogge opted for a life of crime. Rogge knew crime was a ‘pay to play’ choice.
After two failed marriages, Rogge met up with Judy – the love of his life. Crime didn’t bother Judy. With lots of stolen loot in hand, they headed to Tampa in 1983. They bought a yacht and sailed to the Bahamas. Then on to Jamaica, followed by a jaunt to Mexico. Meanwhile, the FBI was hot on the trail. FBI agents finally caught up with Rogge in Nassau, in 1984. Rogge was arrested and transported back to the states.
Sentenced to 60 years in prison for bank robbery, Rogge found himself in Moscow, Idaho, sitting in the Latah County Jail. Rogge enticed. Rogge greased. Rogge bribed a guard with $50,000. Payola. The guard left his cell door open and looked the other way, as Rogge silently slipped away.
For the next eleven years, Rogge dodged the feds, robbing banks in his inimitable style – the gentleman bank robber.
In the end, though, Rogge was spotted in Guatamala. Somebody recognized him from an Internet photo. Realizing the jig was up – and to save Judy – Rogge surrendered himself to the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala. He is currently serving a 65-year sentence at USP Beaumont. Due to be released in 2047, Rogge is 70 years old. He’ll be 107 when he gets out.
If he lives that long.
While the moral of Wanted is simple – that crime doesn’t pay – the other side of the story is that of a flamboyant personality who lived the life of a modern-day pirate, sailing to exotic locales, living from moment to moment, taking plunder as he jumped from adventure to adventure.
Reading Wanted is like being sucked into a swashbuckler about Blackbeard the pirate or watching Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean. What the protagonists did was undeniably wrong. Yet they did it with such panache and such chutzpa that it’s difficult not to like them.
Les Rogge is a very likable rascal. And his story is like hitching a ride in a Top Fuel dragster – ferociously fast from beginning to end.
On the Read-O-Meter, which ranges from 1 star (really, really lousy) to 5 stars (really, really good), Wanted steals 5 stars.”Randall Radic, Basil and Spice http://tinyurl.com/2vvk7tx
5.0 out of 5 stars True crime story from a rather unique perspective, November 13, 2010
True crime stories are always a fascinating read, but oftentimes they leave me wondering what truly went through the criminal’s mind while planning or executing the crimes. “Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber” took care of this question rather nicely – most of the narrative comes directly from the perp himself, Leslie Ibsen Rogge, who at one time was on the FBI most wanted list and proved to be extremely difficult to catch.
Well, let me put the record straight. The book was actually written by Dane Batty, Leslie Ibsen Rogge’s adoring and worshipping nephew, who provided the Introduction as well a certain amount of framework on comments on the story, which was basically written by Leslie himself. I have to admit that I was not familiar with Leslie’s story, although quite a few crimes he committed actually happened close to where I live, but they happened before my times. Leslie’s way of robbing banks was rather distinctive: he would dress well and ask to speak to a manager of a bank that he’d previously checked out. He preferred smaller banks with all-female staff. Once inside, he’d say, “Let’s not turn this into a homicide,” and the managers would comply. His escapes were always brilliantly simple, if somewhat daring, and for a very long time he managed to elude capture. He would usually walk away with a substantial sum, which he invariably managed to spend in a rather short period of time, and then he’d start planning the next robbery.
He was eventually captured, tried and sentenced, but he managed to escape in a rather spectacular way, simply walking out of the door before being transferred to jail. What follows are years of living on the water, cruising in the Caribbean and having lots of fun, while being constantly aware that the FBI is on his heels. They finally capture him and Leslie Ibsen Rogge is now an inmate, due to be released in 2047, when he’d be well over a hundred-years-old. Funnily enough, after reading about his adventures, this does not sound impossible.
“Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber” was a charming and unusual book, filled with humor and unabashedly unapologetic. I am certain that it will find an appreciative audience among those readers who enjoy true crime stories, as well as those who enjoy straight talk.
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (11/10) http://www.readerviews.com/ReviewBattyWantedGentlemenBankRobber.html
The Moon is a Dead
It’s not often that you find a person so enthralled with an America’s Most Wanted criminal that they write a novel commemorating their entire career as a bank robber. But that’s just what Dane Batty has done in Wanted: Gentlemen Bank Robber, which tells the true life tale of Leslie Ibsen Rogge, a notorious bank robber who stole thousands of dollars from banks across the globe and lived a life of anxiety and paranoia, along with bouts of happiness here and there with the help of his wife. Batty, Rogge’s nephew, has collected dialogues from Rogge which help tell the tale of his life of crime, harrowing escapes from authority, and subsequent final capture.
The most compelling aspect of Batty’s book comes from the personality of Rogge himself. The narration is not literary; in fact, it feels mostly like basic dialogue from Rogge, which works to the book’s advantage by forming a bond between reader and criminal. Rogge is described as a gentleman, and the narrative does little to dispel that idea. The prose is easy to read and personable, and it’s almost too easy to be caught up in the ideas of Rogge, to relate to the struggles of a man who created some of his own problems. Yet it’s difficult to dislike Rogge; for all of his wrong-doings and immoral actions, the man behind the perpetrations seems both intelligent and pure at heart.
Batty delivers a well-structured read, designing the narrative around the natural order of Rogge’s criminal life. With the conversational tone, Wanted easily expresses the ways Rogge infiltrated bank security without giving too much detail. Rogge’s hoists were intricate and full of minor details, but the book doesn’t spend too much time giving minute facts and instead touches on the more interesting aspects of theft. The sheer number of bank robberies Rogge pulled off successfully boggles the mind.
Slash to the Point: Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber delivers the goods on Leslie Ibsen Rogge in a personal, almost fanatical, way. Written as dialogue from Rogge himself, there’s no better way to get into the mind of an ingenious robber than Batty’s novel. You’ll find memories from others involved in the cases as well, and on finishing Wanted, the reader hits a moral that’s hard to forget: living life on the run really is hard work, and stealing big bucks isn’t all the luxury it seems.
Listen to the audio Book Review here!
Ryne Barber,The Moon is a Dead World blog, http://tinyurl.com/264hqwv
Hey all , I don’t normally review non-fiction books but every now and again , somebody sends me through one to read and review , I don’t normally mind it though as it tends to be the sort-of genre that I am interested in. One of my favourite genres I like to sit back and read is Mystery – all that crime, blood and guts. Every now and again, I like to pick up a True-Crime story and give it a read . One of my favourite true crime books is called “The Last Victim ” where this 17yr old boy wrote to prisoners like Jeffery Dahmer , Ted Bundy etc all for a school project. I was reading this fiction book “Sweetheart ” by Chelsea Cain and it mentioned the book , so being me I headed to the local library and read it.
Today’s Book that I have to review reminded me of more the movie starring Johnny Depp “Public Enemies” rather than The Last Victim . Readers all around , gather to thy forum as I read and review for you “Wanted : Gentleman Bank Robber ” by Dane Batty.
Wanted : Gentleman Bank Robber tells the story of Leslie Ibsen Rogge , who has been deemed as one of the FBI’s most elusive criminals. You heard of the movie comedy/action “How to Rob a bank in ten days” well this book would describe itself as “How to Rob a bank in several entertaining lessons”. Reading this book , It was amazing to me how much it reminded me of the role Johnny Depp played as John Dillinger in Public Enemies , though in more than one way he was much more smarter and cleverer. Leslie’s criminal record spanned twenty years and he has been said to have robbed more banks than Bonnie and Clyde and Jesse James put together and he did all this without leaving behind casualties in the name of crime. Leslie was caught by police and put in jail twice then of course -he escaped. His escapism techniques and ability to go undetected for such a long time reminded me briefly of the role Leonardo DiCaprio played as Frank Abbengale in “Catch Me if you Can”. Along for the ride was his wife Judy and their trusty companion – the man’s best friend. Together they sailed off into the world , without being caught. Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber details their sailing journey as they visit Alaska , Chesapeake Bay ( as in Nora Robert’s Books) and Cancun. When they settled in Guatemala -Les became known as Uncle Bil , a nice family friend to all and a geniune good guy. It wasn’t until a friend of theirs fourteen-year old boy had been surfing the net came across Les’s picture of the FBI’s Most Wanted List. What then followed was a story of heartbreak and passions as he soon realised he had reached the end of his journey. Les was then sentenced to prison where he is to stay until 10th February 2047. Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber is the perfect prison for anyone interested in reading up on the history of criminals and their accounts on how for so long he escaped and fooled the law. Though it does show one moral , that no matter how far you run and for how long , crime always catches up on you and to sound cliched and all “Crime doesn’t pay”.
Paula Phillips 6-28-10 http://paulazone.blogdrive.com/
“How to rob a bank in several entertaining lessons. A scurrilous, often funny, sometimes serious account of a Gentleman Bank Robber. A swag-bag, get-away of a read that will not be daylight robbery!”
Helen Hollick – author of the Pendragon Trilogy
“From the moment I picked up this book, I found myself immersed in the stories of a man who lived his version of the “American Dream.” It holds the perfect balance of adventure, humor and awe, with a touching love story that will bring warmth to the tender of heart. Walking away, I found myself torn between my strong moral values and my compelling desire to like this fascinating man.”
Holly Clarke, Writer
The Good and the Bad, September 2, 2010
Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber is an unusual portrayal of a criminal fleeing from justice. Told through the eyes of the bank robber himself, this narrative presents what seems to be an ordinary, likeable individual who just happens to rob banks for a living.
A highly intelligent, appealing and confident man who made friends easily as he gradually learned the skills of successful bank robbing and techniques to keep from getting caught, he played cat-and-mouse with authorities for a period of over twenty years.
He chronicles with much detail his identity changes, his travel all over the world by bus, auto, plane, motorboat, and sailboat; traveling sometimes alone and much of the time with a woman and child–and sometimes a monkey. There were also peaceful and enjoyable interludes of living quietly as a family.
Leslie Ibsen Rogge could be anybody’s uncle–as he is in real life to the author, Dane Batty.
La Vaughn Kemnow – Amazon Reviewer http://tinyurl.com/29rdopa
BOOKS ARE MY BAG (shown in Weatherford Daily News, OK, 6/30/11)
By Dee Ann Ray
Author Dane Batty recently published an award winning book titled “Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber, the True Story of Leslie Ibsen Rogge, One of the FBI’s Most Elusive Criminals”. This book is published by Batty’s fledgling press: Nish Publishing, 880 NE 25th Ave, Suite 1-102, Hillsboro, OR 97124. Phone number is 503-707-4132. E-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org and website is www.lesrogge.com.
Dane Batty’s mother is Leslie Ibsen Rogge’s sister. Author Batty became aware of his uncle’s criminal activities through letters written to his mother from a federal prison in Beaumont, Texas after his uncle was finally caught.
Batty works as a writer and designer since earning his MBA from George Fox University. He is accustomed to doing extensive research and in-depth interviews which stood him in good stead as he developed this book from the stories in his uncle’s letters.
In twenty years, Les Rogge robbed more than thirty banks without firing a shot. Some robberies were more successful than others, of course. Rogge developed his own Method of Operation during his bank-robbing years. He was captured and went to prison three times. Escape number two landed Rogge on the FBI’s “most wanted list” as number seven.
Rogge went sailing in the Caribbean with his wife and dog after his last escape. He traveled a lot during his bank robbing years, from Alaska to Antigua. His travels involved many types of boats, planes, vehicles. He was captured when he turned himself in from Guatemala where he met up with a fourteen year old who convinced him to surrender.
Rogge’s stories have been researched and connected by his nephew in this book. Rogge helped his nephew develop the stories. Names have been changed to protect the innocent and not so innocent. Many law enforcement personnel have retired and were unavailable for interviews. Life on the run may sound exciting and romantic, but this book relates the facts and bumps in the life of someone running constantly while trying to hide in plain sight.
This book may be obtained through bookstores/on-line book sources and direct from Nish Publishing at the address given earlier in this column.
Working for the police force for 17 years it was nice to read a book from ‘the otherside’. Dane – you did an excellent job! Well done! Terrific read.
Carol Bridgestock – author of Deadly Focus http://www.rcbridgestock.com/
Here it is, straight from the slightly curled lips of the Gentleman Bank Robber himself. It doesn’t get much more real than this.
Phil Stanford – author of The Peyton-Allan Files and Portland Confidential www.ptownbooks.com
Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber – The Review
As a writer I’ve never much liked editors. My feeling is if they knew what they were talking about, they would be writing the original copy and not just jumping into someone else’s story. (Dan Jenkins summed up every feeling I’ve ever had about editors in my favorite book, You’ve Gotta Play Hurt.)
Sometimes, though, editors are necessary evils. When I worked at the Arizona Capitol Times I had unlimited space for my stories and my writing suffered for it. Without a guiding hand I tended to run on far too long, explaining over paragraphs and in great detail concepts that could have been described in a couple of sentences.
Dane Batty’s “Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber: The True Story of Leslie Ibsen Rogge, One of the FBI’s Most Elusive Criminals”, similary could use a more firm hand, not so much for Dane’s portion but for Les Rogge’s self-written stories.
Rogge wasn’t writing for print; he originally was passing along stories in writing to family regarding his travels and travails as one of the FBI’s most wanted criminals. Batty, Rogge’s nephew, compiled the various stories in the computer and ended up “with an incomplete mishmash that was completely without any timeline.”
In asking Rogge for assistance with the timeline, the long-time bank robber instead rewrote some of the tales. Since there had been greater detail in the original stories, Batty merged the timeline and revised stories with the original letters and added his own paranthetical commentary throughout the book.
The story itself is interesting, not just the idea of spending decades on the run but the places he and his common-law wife visited in the United States, the Caribbean, Mexico and Guatemala. The itinerary sounds like something out of a Jimmy Buffett song, albeit with a darker subplot than the Great Filling Station Holdup.
But it’s not emotionally compelling. I found myself waiting to hear any hint of remorse or recognition that the years of stealing cars, boats and planes, of robbing banks and passing stolen cash, the shoplifting and the fraud, was morally wrong. But it doesn’t happen. In fact, at the end as Rogge discusses his final trials, it almost seems as if the reader should be sympathetic over apparent errors made by the prosecution even though he doesn’t question his guilt, like there’s a difference between being guilty and being convicted.
What hinders the book is the way Rogge’s story is told – in his own, largely unedited words. There are typos and grammatical issues and a use of exclamation points that would make US Weekly blush and leaves the reader feeling as they’ve been pounded on the head with a hammer for emphasis again and again and again.
As family, it’s quite likely Batty didn’t want to detract from the flavor of the tale by taking a heavier hand to Rogge’s portions but the writing style makes for an unnecessarily more difficult, choppy read.
For all that, however, Les Rogge’s tale remains something seemingly out of a by-gone era. His crimes feel more like those that were perpetrated by the James and Dalton gangs in the late 1800s or John Dillinger in the early 1900s. That someone could be so successful not just in robbing banks but eluding the authorities in the late 20th Century is remarkable.
This is not normally the type of book that I pick up to read for pleasure but I have to say that I was surprised
Very interesting andengaging. This is one of those books that you just can’t seem to put down. Like watching a true crime reality show on TV, it just kept me pulled in and reading until I was finished.
This was one that was just so over the top interesting that I had to take a chance on it and I am super glad I did. I think I have some friends who will be getting copies for Christmas
5.0 out of 5 stars Dangerous book for the recession, December 30, 2010
Batty’s “Wanted:The Gentleman Bank Robber” tells the story of the kind of man Michael Jackson probably had on his mind when he wrote the song “Smooth Criminal”. Possessing an alarming lack of fear and the ability to con anyone into most anything (until, as the saying goes, what goes around came around) Leslie Rogge is more than likely the sort of guy who would not make you suspicious as he walked into your bank.
Using female tellers as his prey (assuming rightly that they are far less likely than men to go for heroics) he robbed about 30 banks within a year. With his wife Judy he sailed around the world–I don’t think I’ve ever read a book in which a guy steals more cars, boats, etc within about six pages with this kind of frequency and skill–and ends up on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted List.
The chief flaw of the book, though it is well told and absolutely gripping, is that we really don’t know why Les decided on the career that he did. When it comes to George Jung (who adorns the book’s cover with awkward poetic reveries) we had an idea of why he was doing what he was doing and his origins. With Les, we have no clue. This guy’s business/people skills would have allowed him to do anything. Written by an adoring nephew, this is a welcome departure from the standard True Crime ephemera, a tale of a man who destined to become an outlaw. Recommended for the crime buff!
John Allen – Top Amazon Reviewer http://tinyurl.com/26h7xvw
5.0 out of 5 stars - We love true crime stories
January 28, 2012 by Mary Greenwood
Why do we love true crime stories so much? I was reading a review about a spy movie and it stated, “we relish criminals because they have enjoyably dishonest skills; they steal things, dissemble, bluff, threaten, and do everything in secret, in the shadows of ordinary working life. They do in the flesh, what we can only do in fantasy.” That is the appeal. Here is Leslie Rogge, who is a gentleman bank robber with his own code. He does not shoot to kill but will shoot tires to stop pursuit. He has a glamorous life with his girlfriend that takes him to exotic places and he is free to go to the beach and go boating and drink copious amounts of beer while we ordinary citizens are busy working in our mundane lives.
The author Dane Batty is Mr. Rogge’s nephew. He has collected all the letters that Rogge sent and added commentary and pictures that shows the reader what the life of a bank robber is really like. Most of us law-abiding citizens would never think of robbing a bank, but we are fascinated by someone who has the nerve to do so. There is a certain excitement that we may even envy although we would not really want to change places. Along the way, Mr. Rogge made many friends so that even when they knew he was a criminal, they covered for him.
I recommend this book for anyone who likes true crime stories. Rogge had many close calls and one can even imagine a movie being made of his escapades. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.
I understand that Mr. Batty is working on his second book. I am really looking forward to it.
Wanted book review by BunnyCates
Written by BunnyCates on January 26, 2012 – 6:10 am
I enjoyed this book. It’s hard to write a review of a non-fiction book, because it feels like you’re reviewing someone’s life. :0)
For me, I really have to be in the “mood” for a non-fiction book, which is why it took me so long to actually get through this one. I had started reading it a back before Christmas and with the stress of the holiday season, I just couldn’t get into a non-fiction book. Since the holiday dash is over, I was finally able to sit down and enjoy learning about this man’s life adventure.
It’s really interesting to me how he remained free for so long, and how he managed to rob SO MANY banks without ever pulling a gun or physically hurting anyone. It almost doesn’t seem possible. I also had to “lol” when he was elated to find a Burger King. I don’t know why that stuck me so funny – but I said in my reading updates that “It’s nice to know even millionaires still enjoy the BK” haha…
Anyway, this book is the true story of a man who robbed banks for a living (and nearly got away with it). Its an interesting read, with good writing, and photos. I say pick it up if you’re into TRUE CRIME, NON-FICTION, or BIOGRAPHIES.
I hear this book has just sold the movie rights. So coming to a screen near you…
Wanted book review by Bookish Magpie
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber by Dane Batty is a fascinating true crime biography. As the book’s subtitle states, this is The True Story of Leslie Ibsen Rogge, One of the FBI’s Most Elusive Criminals. The book reveals how Leslie Rogge turned to a life of crime, starting with hot-wiring cars when he was a teenager, and soon progressing to his favourite “work” – robbing banks. Incredibly, his crime spree lasted for twenty years during which he robbed nearly thirty banks. The book explains how he was so successful that he was able to lead an adventure-filled life while evading capture until ultimately, he was compelled to surrender.
Dane Batty’s book is a very personal one because the infamous criminal is his uncle. The author explains in the introduction that he based his book on letters that Leslie Rogge wrote to his sister (Dane’s mother) over the years. The letters provided the author with an abundance of details about the crimes that his uncle committed as well as stories about his incredible adventures. The author also interviewed his uncle in prison. It all seems too far-fetched to be true but the author verified everything through newspaper articles and court reports, as well as talking to people who were involved with his uncle Les’s escapades.The result is a candid account of how Leslie Rogge committed his numerous crimes, as well as stories about his exciting life style, and wild hair-raising adventures.
The author decided to present his uncle’s story as if Leslie is telling it.This use of the first-person point of view is a bit strange since the book is a biography, not an autobiography. However, it does seem to work. When necessary, the author inserts an occasional comment to provide more details or to insert a comment from Judy (Les’s common-law wife) about an incident she recalled. The author also includes an assortment of (black and white) photographs of Les and Judy.
Les explains the tricks he would use to rob banks such as always choosing a bank with female employees because he figured (quite rightly) that they wouldn’t dare try to stop him. He was called a “gentleman” bank robber since he didn’t use a gun.The implied threat was enough to get results.
With the money obtained from his robberies, Les and Judy led a very exciting life indeed, constantly on the move but enjoying themselves immensely.They even went sailing to the Bahamas and Mexico. Some of the situations they
would get into were very funny indeed. And when a situation would turn serious, he would frequently turn to his knowledge of how things (cars, boats, planes) work mechanically - a talent which turned out to be useful for a bank robber on the run.
Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber is the story of a very intelligent criminal who managed to use simple but ingenious methods to commit all his crimes. His outrageous exploits add up to a very entertaining read although the way it’s presented is a bit confusing at times. It’s not always clear what year the events are taking place because the stories are a bit disjointed.That said, I did enjoy reading it. It’s a very unusual biography. I can see why it won the 2011 Reviewers Choice Award and Pinnacle Book Achievement Award. It’s also a finalist for the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
I’m grateful to the author, Dane Batty, for sending me a copy of his book to review. If you like to read biographies, and/or you are fascinated by how the criminal mind works, you will enjoy reading Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber.
Wanted book review by Leeswammes
March 8, 2012
I liked Leslie and his clever ways. Everyone likes Leslie, apparently, and that’s how he managed to have a wonderful life outside prison (and to be assisted in escaping prison). For instance, he managed to talk the police into destroying evidence (it sounded like a very logical thing to do, in this particular case), as a result of which he couldn’t be convicted. How about that?
On the other hand, while the book started off really interesting, I found the middle bit boring. Leslie buys cars, later boats, and we get details on makes and how much work he needed to do on them. Then he and his girlfriend set off by boat, meet people on the way, etc. The ending, with the FBI hot on his tail, made a good read again.
The book was a chronological story about Lesle’s life but there wasn’t much reflection. I would have liked to know what his justification was for robbing banks, what he thought of being in prison, about leaving his two children (with his previous wife, who doesn’t grant him access). Also, more general, I would have liked to get an idea of what Leslie actually thought of all of his adventures.
The book doesn’t glorify crime but it doesn’t condemn it either. It evokes a good chuckle about Leslie’s criminal antics but not everyone may approve of this.
In conclusion, the book is a mixed experience for me – some of it was good fun to read, some I found rather boring, and I felt I missed some self-reflection.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars