Eliot Ness: The Rise and Fall of an American Hero

( 4 )

Overview

The story of Eliot Ness, the legendary lawman who led the Untouchables, took on Al Capone, and saved a city?s soul

As leader of an unprecedented crime-busting squad, twenty-eight-year-old Eliot Ness won fame for taking on notorious mobster Al Capone. But the Untouchables? daring raids were only the beginning of Ness?s unlikely story.

This new biography grapples with the charismatic lawman?s complicated, largely forgotten legacy. Perry ...

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Eliot Ness: The Rise and Fall of an American Hero

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Overview

The story of Eliot Ness, the legendary lawman who led the Untouchables, took on Al Capone, and saved a city’s soul

As leader of an unprecedented crime-busting squad, twenty-eight-year-old Eliot Ness won fame for taking on notorious mobster Al Capone. But the Untouchables’ daring raids were only the beginning of Ness’s unlikely story.

This new biography grapples with the charismatic lawman’s complicated, largely forgotten legacy. Perry chronicles Ness’s days in Chicago as well as his spectacular second act in Cleveland, where he achieved his greatest success: purging the profoundly corrupt city and forging new practices that changed police work across the country. He also faced one of his greatest challenges: a mysterious serial killer known as the Torso Murderer. Capturing the first complete portrait of the real Eliot Ness, Perry brings to life an unorthodox man who believed in the integrity of law and the power of American justice.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 11/04/2013
Though he’s now a revered as the lawman who helped bring down the Chicago Mob and Al Capone, Eliot Ness was all but forgotten by the time he died, virtually penniless, in 1957, at age 55. Ironically, a book touting his dramatic efforts would hit stores just six months later. With a shrewd mix of drama, insight, and objectivity, Perry (The Girls of Murder City) artfully chronicles the life of the leader of the “Untouchables” squad and illuminates his subject’s complicated worldview, passions, and faults. An introverted misfit and perfectionist, Ness perpetually felt like an outsider until he found his way to the nascent Prohibition Bureau. Under constant threat of violence, particularly in the early days, Ness thrived, leading his department on daring raids in a tireless effort to take down Capone, something Ness would later characterize as an obsession. Though he later made great strides fighting crime and corruption as public safety director in Cleveland (though the pursuit of a sadistic serial killer proved elusive), he would never regain the esteem he once enjoyed. By WWII, Ness was scraping for work. After an unsuccessful effort to become mayor of Cleveland, Ness all but gave up. A drunken ramble in the presence of a reporter led to the publication of his biography, which turned out to be too little too late to save the real Ness, though it did much to burnish his posthumous fame—a cruel twist to a story full of them. Photos. Agent: Jim Donovan, Jim Donovan Literary.(Feb.)
Library Journal
12/01/2013
Perry's (The Girls of Murder City) newest historical work about famed Al Capone fighter Eliot Ness tells the story of a complicated and often uncompromising man who cleaned up not only Chicago but Depression-era Cleveland before losing himself to alcoholism and lack of direction. The book is well researched and contains extensive footnotes, which will no doubt satisfy academics, but Perry writes in a style that is readable, fast-paced, and empathetic. Unlike Ness and Oscar Fraley's heavily embellished text The Untouchables, which Fraley published after Ness's death, this volume is founded in fact. The book makes Ness's life not just a series of victories over crime and corruption but, ultimately, portrays a driven man with deep flaws who was able to do great things. Perry's title shows Ness the man, not Ness the legend. VERDICT Recommended for historical crime buffs, biography fans, and the general reader.—Amelia Osterud, Carroll Univ. Lib., Waukesha, WI
Kirkus Reviews
2013-12-22
A thorough recounting of the career of Eliot Ness (1903–1957), from humble beginning to humble ending, with spectacular fame in between. Al Capone may have gone to prison for tax evasion, but Perry (The Girls of Murder City: Fame, Lust, and the Beautiful Killers Who Inspired Chicago, 2010) understands that the name Ness is synonymous with shutting down Capone's bootleg operation. The author ably shows that there was far more to Ness' career than just his battles with Capone, with accomplishments that may even outweigh his work during Prohibition. Unlike many of his colleagues, Ness did not fade into the background when the law was repealed. After a short stint in Cincinnati, he moved to Cleveland, where the mayor made him director of public safety with instructions to clean up the city. His years in Cleveland were probably the best of his career, with Ness implementing many firsts in the police department that are now standard procedure. Unfortunately, after leaving Cleveland, Ness never re-entered law enforcement and wasn't successful in his other work. Alongside intense and energetic investigative tales, Perry injects humor into the story with anecdotes--e.g., when a Cleveland patrolman, gun drawn, stopped Ness on the street. Though Ness identified himself, the patrolman was skeptical, insisting he was just as likely to be President Franklin D. Roosevelt. "Eliot carefully produced his ID and said that, with FDR's approval, he would like to be on his way," writes the author. Perry also peppers the book with his own colorful language. While this works in his favor when he calls a bad area of town "Cleveland's colostomy bag," it is jarring and off-kilter when he writes that Ness "gave Stafford a little smile, savoring the moment like a postcoital cigarette." Despite minor flaws, there is much to learn and enjoy for crime-solving fans and American history buffs.
From the Publisher
A Best Books of 2014 Selection, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“This is rip-roaring stuff, and Mr. Perry tells it with gusto.”
—The Wall Street Journal

“Perry paints a riveting portrait of the real man behind the Untouchables icon… It’s a tragic true story more engrossing than the myth.”
Parade Magazine

“[A] new and invaluable biography… [Perry] does justice to his subject, a complicated and self-destructive human being, but one who was also admired by many. He is a tragic rather than heroic figure, and Perry nails him with style and compassion.”
The Chicago Tribune

“Perry has spun a riveting tale.” 
The Washington Post

“Perry takes plenty of detours beyond Ness's work history, exploring fascinating topics like an infamous Cleveland serial killer case, the evolution of law enforcement tactics, and the ever-present enticements wooing less-than-holy Chicago-area cops. But he doesn't need to wander afield when it comes to the dangerous missions by the "Untouchables" squad in Chicago: The action scenes are positively cinematic… Smart, authoritative, and bristling with challenges to the status quo: [Eliot Ness] has more than a little in common with its remarkable subject.”
—The Christian Science Monitor

“[A] new and invaluable biography… [Perry] does justice to his subject, a complicated and self-destructive human being, but one who was also admired by many. He is a tragic rather than heroic figure, and Perry nails him with style and compassion.”
The Chicago Tribune

“Don’t believe what you’ve seen in the movies. The true story of Eliot Ness is better than the Hollywood version, and Douglas Perry tells it brilliantly, with hard-nosed reporting and graceful prose. This book is so good even Al Capone would have enjoyed it, though perhaps grudgingly.”
—Jonathan Eig, author of Get Capone: The Secret Plot That Captured America’s Most Wanted Gangster
 
“Douglas Perry is telling three stories here, those of Eliot Ness, of criminal empires, and of America, each done with equal grace and skill. His superb research is matched by his understanding of Ness as a microcosm of these larger tales, and he recreates a man and a slice of American history with marvelous results. A truly remarkable book.”
—Michael Koryta, New York Times Bestselling author of The Prophet  
 
“There’s so much more to the complex life and career of Eliot Ness than the Untouchables and Al Capone, and now we finally have the whole fascinating story. Douglas Perry proves that well-researched truth always trumps one-dimensional mythology, especially when presented by a gifted storyteller. Eliot Ness is that rarity – an authentic page-turner.”
—Jeff Guinn, author of Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson
 
“In this true crime page turner, Douglas Perry cuts through the myths surrounding the legendary lawman to reveal a figure far more flawed, complex—and fascinating—than the squeaky-clean do-gooder of “Untouchables” fame.  Readers will be riveted by Perry’s gripping account of Ness’s post-Chicago career, where, among other adventures, he found himself on the trail of one of America’s most savage serial murderers, the maniac known as the Cleveland Torso Killer.”
—Harold Schechter, author of The Mad Sculptor: The Maniac, the Model, and the Murder that Shook the Nation
 
“Finally, you can forget the over-dramatized accounts and Hollywood-hyped film portrayals of the past, and read Douglas Perry’s masterfully researched and honest tale of the crime-fighting life and personal struggles of the famed Eliot Ness. This is story-telling at its finest....”
—Carlton Stowers, two-time Edgar winner
 
“Over time—thanks in great part to Hollywood, television, and even comic books—Ness’s remarkable crime-fighting career has been reduced to his famous struggle against mobster Al Capone. At last here is Ness in his first, second, and final acts. A true account of his life that makes for a better story than Hollywood could have ever concocted.”
—James McGrath Morris, author of The Rose Man of Sing Sing

    
“You may have thought you knew Eliot Ness, but Douglas Perry shows us that The Untouchables and taking down Capone were only the start of his story. Ness, though he went on to fight more gangsters and hunt a serial killer, was a far more complicated and flawed American hero than we previously realized.”
—Paul French, author of Midnight in Peking

 

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670025886
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/20/2014
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 249,633
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

DOUGLAS PERRY is the author of The Girls of Murder City. He is an award-winning writer and editor whose work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune and the Oregonian, among other publications. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 12, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent

    Very Informative, clears up his history nicely,

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    A great book and a hero! Another great read is Hector's Juice!

    A great book and a hero! Another great read is Hector's Juice!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2014

    Haru

    Hey i got grounded wont be back for awhile

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2014

    Annabeth

    Oh... ok

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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