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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Short Introduction to Al Capone

Al Capone: Chicago's King of CrimeAl Capone: Chicago's King of Crime by Nate Hendley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you don't know very much about Al Capone or the heyday of Chicago criminal activity this is an excellent overview. Easily read in one sitting and written in a clear factual manner, yet far from boring. There is no hyperbole or drama just a conversational saga of the mob scene and the corrupt graft taking legal and governmental attitude of Prohibition America. It is interesting to learn of the various personalities of these cruel, vicious, murderous men. One crime lord a florist who drew a line at being involved in prostitution; the Mafia's Sicilian only membership--Capone was Neapolitan!; the personalities that could carry out the Valentine's Day massacre and then play golf or attend family dinners; the politicians who sincerely tried to fight crime and yet socialized with its biggest leaders. Simply unbelieveable and yet historically true and not confined to Chicago or Cicero Illinois--New York City was equally corrupt. I kept waiting for the appearance of Elliot Ness and the Untouchables , but television and movies aside, he entered the Capone picture pretty late in Scarface Al's spree. Also, though he pulled some pretty incredible raids on Capone's installations and some fun irritating stunts on Alphonse, his actions were secondary in the Federal Governments efforts to bring Capone down on tax evasion charges.

In the beginning it was hard to keep all the actors straight with their Italian, Jewish and Irish names to say nothing of their colorful monikers but eventually they and the slang of the day attained a rhythm and familiarity and became easier to navigate. One thing I always enjoy are photos of the characters and events. Unfortunately, there are none here. Nevertheless, this is a good starting off place for anyone interested in the history of organized crime in the 20's-30's Chicago.

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