Once known as the “gentleman bank robber,” Ken Cooper delivers a fascinating autobiography in Held Hostage: A Serial Bank Robber’s Road to Redemption. Until his arrest in 1982, he led a double life, holding up numerous banks nationwide while traveling on legitimate business.
After losing his young wife to cancer, Cooper rejected God and resumed his adolescent addiction to the adrenaline rush of stealing.
He perfected a bank-robbing routine involving female hostages and stolen getaway vehicles—all the while working a series of respected jobs (including, at one point, as a juvenile-delinquent counselor).
Finally shot and captured in a botched Tampa, Fla., heist, he received a 99-year sentence. In prison, he witnessed Christ’s power doing extraordinary things such as stopping the scourge of rapes in his cellblock. After a few years, Cooper’s changed attitude earned him an early release.
Although many details are provided, some, including an account of his first bank robbery, are curiously missing. Nevertheless, Held Hostage is consistently an exciting and stranger-than-fiction read.
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