John Herbert Dillinger: Imperfect Exemplification Of A Social Bandit

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John Herbert Dillinger, an infamous Depression era American outlaw and bank robber whose legends depict him as a “social bandit”. However, what exactly is a social bandit and how did Dillinger fit in with the social bandit stereotype years after his death? The term “social bandit” is a concept noted by English historian Eric Hobsbawm which describes a tradition in peasant society of lawless men on the fringes akin to the likes of Robin Hood. Social bandits targeted the wealthy and powerful who the poor exonerated as the cause of their suffering and misfortunes. What Dillinger represented to Eric’s term is an imperfect exemplification of a social bandit. Dillinger in certain ways did fit the social bandit mold as legends (falsely) portrayed
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