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Norco '80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History (Paperback)

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On May 9, 1980, what usually only happens in action-thriller movies came to life in Orange County, California. I don’t usually read true-crime, but Houlahan’s writing pulled me in. While reading this meticulous researched account, I could almost smell the gun powder, hear the cacophony of gunfire making my ears ring and see the dust clear as the largest crime scene in American history came into view. 
Documented here is how an attempted bank robbery and its subsequent trial would forever change a town, its people and law enforcement nation-wide. The crime and court case may have been an unbelievable catastrophe, but this book is pitch-perfect. 

— From Shannon's Picks


5 young men. 32 destroyed police vehicles. 1 spectacular bank robbery. This "cinematic" true crime story transports readers to the scene of one of the most shocking bank heists in U.S. history--a crime that's almost too wild to be real (The New York Times Book Review).

Norco '80 tells the story of how five heavily armed young men--led by an apocalyptic born-again Christian--attempted a bank robbery that turned into one of the most violent criminal events in U.S. history, forever changing the face of American law enforcement. Part action thriller and part courtroom drama, this Edgar Award finalist for Best Fact Crime transports the reader back to the Southern California of the 1970s, an era of predatory evangelical gurus, doomsday predictions, megachurches, and soaring crime rates, with the threat of nuclear obliteration looming over it all.

In this riveting true story, a group of landscapers transforms into a murderous gang of bank robbers armed to the teeth with military-grade weapons. Their desperate getaway turns the surrounding towns into war zones. And when it's over, three are dead and close to twenty wounded; a police helicopter has been forced down from the sky, and thirty-two police vehicles have been completely demolished by thousands of rounds of ammo. The resulting trial shakes the community to the core, raising many issues that continue to plague society today: from the epidemic of post-traumatic stress disorder within law enforcement to religious extremism and the militarization of local police forces.

About the Author

PETER HOULAHAN is a freelance writer contributing to a wide range of publications. In his career as an emergency medical technician, he has written a number of articles related to his profession. He holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. A native Southern Californian, Houlahan now lives in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Find out more at
Product Details
ISBN: 9781640093881
ISBN-10: 1640093885
Publisher: Counterpoint LLC
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2020
Pages: 400
Language: English