Book of Words: “Bank Notes: The True Story of the Boonie Hat Bandit” by Caroline Giammanco

This blog offers a different type of book review­—one that’s combined with vocabulary building. Included here, following a short synopsis, are a few interesting words I found in Bank Notes. The selected words are not necessarily unknown, but worth noting. The definitions are followed by a quote from the book using the chosen word.

banknotesBank Notes is a nonfiction in-depth look at a choice one man made to commit bank robbery in an attempt to pay off debt that threatened his family’s lifestyle, the prison life he was forced into, and the court system he struggled with. It’s mostly told from his point of view, but several chapters come from the point of view of the author, the woman who fell in love with him while working as a teacher in the prison system. Donald Keith Giammanco robbed 12 banks before he was arrested. The nickname “Boonie Hat Bandit” came from Giammanco’s casual hat he wore as he robbed the banks. He remains in prison today and has plans upon release to marry the author, who assumed his name for publication of Bank Notes. I found the book to be an interesting look at the Missouri court system and the emotional turmoil faced by the criminal who is apprehended and convicted.

Words from Bank Notes:

Penance: n. voluntary self-punishment inflicted as an outward expression of repentance for having done wrong. Separation from society and their loved ones is the penance, not the arbitrary vengeance of fellow inmates or staff.”

Recidivist: n. a convicted criminal who reoffends, esp. repeatedly, or denoting such a person. (derivative: recidivism) Concerns about recidivism (re-offense) were among the top issues for the legislators.”

Variant: n. a form or version of something that differs in some respect from other forms of the same thing or from a standard. Publicity surrounded my crime spree and it followed me after my arrest. Immediately after settling into the St. Louis County Jail, I received a variant of contact from media corporations, reporters and others interested in getting a story.”

Insidious: adj. proceeding in a gradual subtle way, but with harmful effects; treacherous, crafty. “Old jealousies and unresolved issues within the family made this more insidious than the bystanders seeking attention.”

Altruistic: adj. showing a disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others; unselfish. “Finally, there was one more, altruistic, reason. I took this case to trial for all Americans and Missourians, not just for me.”

Definitions are typically from The New Oxford American Dictionary through Kindle or Wikipedia.

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is… the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” — Mark Twain

What interesting words have you taken note of lately?


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