NAMED A BEST TRUE CRIME BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
A rollicking true story of Bibles and bank robberies in Southern California, from a talented and highly praised gonzo journalist
Chas Smith grew up deeply enmeshed in the evangelical Christian world that grew out of Southern California in the late 1960s. His family included famous missionaries and megachurch pastors, but his cousin Daniel Courson was Grandma’s favorite. Smith looked up to Cousin Danny. He was handsome, adventurous, and smart, earned a degree from Bible college, and settled into a family and a stable career.
Needless to say, it was a big surprise when Cousin Danny started robbing banks. Known as the “Floppy Hat Bandit,” Courson robbed 19 of them in a torrid six-week spree before being caught and sentenced to seven years. When he tried to escape, they tacked on another year. And when he finally got out, despite seeming to be back on the straight and narrow, Cousin Danny disappeared. Banks started getting robbed again. It seemed Cousin Danny might be gunning for the record.
Smith’s Blessed Are the Bank Robbers is the wild, and wildly entertaining, story of an all-American anti-hero. It’s a tale of bank robberies, art and jewel heists, high-speed chases, fake identities, encrypted Swiss email accounts, jilted lovers, and the dark side of an evangelical family (and it wasn’t just Danny; an uncle was mixed up with the mujahideen). It’s a book about what it means to live inside the church and outside the law.
About the Author
Chas Smith is the author of Cocaine + Surfing, Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell, which was a finalist for the PEN Center USA Award for Nonfiction, and Reports from Hell. Smith began his career as a foreign correspondent, writing pieces for Vice, Paper, and Blackbook, among others, from Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Somalia, Azerbaijan, and Colombia, which led to a brief career as a war correspondent for Current TV. He lives in Los Angeles.
“Journalist Smith delivers a rollicking portrait of his cousin Daniel David Courson, the scion of a prominent evangelical Christian family who is also a notorious bank robber...an intriguing tale of rock bottoms, daredevil escapes, and life on the wrong side of the law. Readers will enjoy the ride.”
— Publishers Weekly
“A fascinating exploration that will appeal to those who appreciate the intersection of true crime and memoir.”
— Library Journal
“If Danny Courson weren't a real person, Elmore Leonard would have needed to invent him. Blessed Are the Bank Robbers is a wild ride, for sure, but it's also a tale of family and faith, of the American dream turned upside down, and of one of the greatest unknown legends to ever walk the West.” — Tod Goldberg, author of Gangsterland and The Low Desert