Get Capone: The Secret Plot That Captured America's Most Wanted Gangster

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When he arrived in Chicago in 1920, Al Capone found limitless opportunity. An impetuous, affable young man of average intelligence, within a few years he'd built a booming illegal bootlegging business, corrupted the police and courts, and become an international celebrity. Drawing on thousands of pages of recently discovered government documents, wiretap transcripts, and Al Capone's handwritten personal letters, Jonathan Eig tells the dramatic story of the rise and fall of the nation's most notorious criminal in ...

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First Edition/First Printing. Hardcover. 468 pages, with photographs. Thrillingly evokes gangland Chicago, and its most infamous gangster while shattering myths along the way. A ... fine dustjacket over a fine book. As new. Unread. From my smoke-free collection. Read more Show Less

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Get Capone: The Secret Plot That Captured America's Most Wanted Gangster

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Overview

When he arrived in Chicago in 1920, Al Capone found limitless opportunity. An impetuous, affable young man of average intelligence, within a few years he'd built a booming illegal bootlegging business, corrupted the police and courts, and become an international celebrity. Drawing on thousands of pages of recently discovered government documents, wiretap transcripts, and Al Capone's handwritten personal letters, Jonathan Eig tells the dramatic story of the rise and fall of the nation's most notorious criminal in rich new detail.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
“Not since the hunt for John Wilkes Booth... had so many sources been brought to bear in an attempt to jail one man,” writes former Chicago magazine editor Eig (Opening Day). But Al Capone eluded them all—even J. Edgar Hoover. In a page-turning account, Eig details the chase for the elusive Capone, dissecting both the man and his myth. Born in Brooklyn in 1899, Alphonse Capone came to a booming, bustling, corrupt, and very thirsty Chicago in 1920, just as Prohibition began. Rising swiftly through the underworld ranks, Capone soon headed a crime syndicate he dubbed “the outfit,” which dealt in bootleg alcohol, racketeering, drugs, and prostitution. Eig traces the largely unsuccessful efforts by various law enforcement agencies to bring him down. He focuses on U.S. Attorney George E.Q. Johnson, who finally saw Capone convicted in 1931 for tax evasion and conspiring to violate Prohibition laws, leading to an 11-year prison sentence. Using previously unreleased IRS files, Johnson's papers, even notes he discovered for a ghostwritten Capone autobiography, Eig presents a multifaceted portrait of a shrewd man who built a criminal empire worth millions. 16 pages of b&w photos. (May 1)
James McManus
Much of this tale is familiar from earlier books…Yet Eig's is a welcome, even necessary, update…he sketches fresh profiles of scores of Italian, Irish and Polish mobsters, and of three presidents, three Chicago mayors and dozens of minor officials…Panoramic yet sharply focused, Get Capone is as much a dark history of urban America between the world wars as it is another mobster's life story…a gore-spattered thriller and a more nuanced upgrade over previous takedowns and hagiographies.
—The New York Times
Library Journal
Former reporter Eig has brought new life to the story of Al "Scarface" Capone, reporting on the life, crimes, and fall of America's most notorious gangster. Eig accessed newly discovered material to produce this fresh take on Capone, including the papers and never-released IRS files of Chicago's U.S. attorney, George E.Q. Johnson. He also discovered a letter that contains a plausible solution to the never-solved Valentine's Day massacre. (William "Three-Fingered Jack" White may have led the massacre to avenge the gangster killing of his cousin, a cop's son.) Wrapped in this biography is an engrossing account of Prohibition, Chicago, and legal history (Johnson's innovation of charging suspected criminals of lesser crimes to get a conviction is still in use today). Eig is a fascinating storyteller who throws in the occasional bon mot ("It was cold and gray, as if February had knocked off May and taken its place") that readers will enjoy. While the book would have benefited from a "cast of characters" to help readers keep track of the many players, the accompanying web site (getcapone.com) is a treasure-trove of material, including links to FBI and IRS files. VERDICT This book should be very popular with true crime and Prohibition history buffs; highly recommended. [See "Prepub Exploded," BookSmack!, November 5, 2009.]—Karen Sandlin Silverman, Ctr. for Applied Research, Philadelphia
Kirkus Reviews
Scrupulously researched account of the men who made the 1920s roar, and the straight-arrows who stopped them. Former Chicago magazine executive editor Eig (Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season, 2007, etc.) rescues the narrative of Al Capone from the realm of pop melodrama, offering vibrant historical storytelling and a nuanced, enigmatic portrait of Capone and his Chicago milieu. The author discovered several long-forgotten archives of key documents, including unreleased IRS files and "Untouchable" Eliot Ness' wiretap transcripts. Eig constructs a plausible, often surprising narrative of criminality, but he also fleshes it out into a colorful urban social history. The Capone that emerges here is certainly a ruthless criminal, but far from the psychopath portrayed in films. He appears to be more a natural product of his time, a bemused immigrants' son who, in the brutal environment of working-class Chicago, intuited that Prohibition offered an opportunity to leap from tavern hustler to major profiteer. Capone was loyal to associates and devoted to his family, apparently tried to broker truces with other gangs before the inevitable internecine bloodbaths and loved nightlife, gambling and women so much that his nickname was "Snorky," meaning ritzy. The backdrop for Capone's evolution was a Chicago so chaotic and corrupt that its citizens actually returned the outrageously crooked mayor William Thompson to office, following a seemingly futile reform administration. Capone loved talking to the press, which thrilled people but infuriated the Feds. While "Secret Plot" seems an overstatement, Eig argues that Herbert Hoover was determined to make an example of the gangster, apreoccupation that persisted even as the Depression grew deeper. The flawed Ness' contributions were minimal, but a little-remembered state's attorney and IRS agent doggedly built an intricate case against Capone over several years. Their work seems compromised due to the interference of a vengeful judge, who threw out a plea agreement in order to send the gangster to trial and, ultimately, Alcatraz. An impressive, accessible history of a troubled time. Agent: David Black/David Black Literary Agency
From the Publisher
"[Eig] paints a masterly portrait of America's all-time favorite crime boss.... Rich in deaitl and historical context." —-The Christian Science Monitor
The Barnes & Noble Review

In Jonathan’s Eig’s brilliantly researched and accessible "life and times" of the most notorious mobster of a notorious era, we learn that Al Capone’s biggest problem wasn’t the Chicago cops or vicious rival crime bosses. These could be bribed away or killed off, both “Scarface” specialties. What ultimately undid the legendary 1920s gangster was his craving to be as famous as Babe Ruth. Capone effectively crafted “a public identity as an overlord of the underworld,” writes Eig. As brazen bootlegging and rampant violence poisoned big cities like Capone’s Chicago, Scarface would describe himself in countless newspaper interviews as a self-made businessman simply offering what customers demanded.

Capone was untouchable in Chicago, running his lucrative criminal syndicate with modern business techniques and resorting to violence when necessary. He paid police and judges for protection, and left rival gangs alone if they didn’t bother him. Yet as the gangland wars inevitably exploded, highlighted by the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (when seven of Capone’s rivals were machine-gunned), the federal government intervened. Capone’s appetite for publicity put a bulls-eye on his back, explains Eig, making him the nation’s “leading symbol of lawlessness.” And as such, he attracted the attention and ire of President Herbert Hoover, who “gave the order to the top officials in every relevant agency: Get Capone.”

Hoover not only supported Prohibition and obsessed about maintaining order, but seemed personally offended by Capone’s public image as a self-made businessman. The President, Eig writes, would begin each morning by asking his cabinet, “Have you got Capone yet?” Capone was eventually put away not for racketeering and murder but for tax evasion and his 1931 conviction would result in the maximum sentence of eleven years, much of it served in Alcatraz. Capone was finished. As Eig observes, his “popular appeal" was crucial to his rise toward the fame he craved -- but it "infuriated" those who might have otherwise ignored a single city's crime boss, and ensured his almost classic fall.

--Chuck Leddy

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416580591
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 4/27/2010
  • Pages: 468
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan Eig

Jonathan Eig is a former senior special writer for The Wall Street Journal. He is the author of several books, including two highly acclaimed bestsellers, Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig and Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Season. Visit him at JonathanEig.com.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Capone Rising 13

1 The Getting of It 15

2 Good-bye, Diamond Jim 28

3 A Little House on South Prairie 43

4 "I'm Sure It Was Capone" 54

5 Funny Notions 69

6 A Man of Destiny 79

7 Heat Wave 90

8 "He Will Knock You Flat Just for Fun" 99

9 The Peacemaker 111

10 Q Is for Quincy 127

11 Sorry About That, Hymie 139

12 A Smile and a Gun 154

13 The Grinder 162

14 The Better Element 174

Part 2 King Capone 185

15 "There's Worse Fellows in the World than Me" 187

16 Uneasy Lies the Head 212

17 Deepest in Dirt 233

18 Pineapples and Coconuts 241

19 The Graduation of Frankie Yale 265

20 Hooverization 284

21 "I Do Not Stay Up Late" 296

22 The Enforcer 301

23 The Formidable Alphonse 319

24 Little Caesar 331

25 St. Valentine's Day 345

Part 3 Capone Falling 359

26 "An Unsolved Crime" 361

27 "The Most Sore Necessity of Our Times" 371

28 The Brightest Days 386

29 "Have You Got Capone Yet?" 400

30 Locked Up 413

31 Elegant Mess 428

32 The Napoleon of Chicago 451

33 The Big Fellow Chills 464

34 Silent Partner 473

35 "Lady, Nobody's on the Legit" 483

36 Public Enemy Number One 505

37 "There Is No Friendship Among Hoodlums" 533

38 Contempt 549

39 Death and Taxes 562

40 United States Against Al Capone 578

41 The So-Called Untouchables 606

42 "Who Wouldn't Be Worried?" 618

43 Big Spender 636

44 The Verdict 648

Epilogue 663

Acknowledgments 715

Sources 721

Notes 725

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 32 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(13)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 32 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 15, 2010

    good book if you like the 1020s-1030s in Chicago

    I have not finisd the book but so far I have learned new information that I did not know before. If you are interested in Capone and what went on in Chicago at a time when he ran Chicago you will like this book.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted May 6, 2010

    GREAT NEW INFO

    superb job telling the story you thought you knew, but really don't.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 23, 2011

    Outstanding Book...must read

    Very good book which I highly recommend to any biography fan. Clearly well researched and written.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted April 22, 2013

    Great book, love it!

    One of the best books i've read!

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

    Posted December 6, 2012

    Five stars.

    Five stars.

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

    Posted November 25, 2011

    Good rrad

    Very interesting and will keep you interested but pictures should have been included

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

    Posted November 8, 2011

    Hi

    Hi!!!!!!!!

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Save your money!

    It reads to me like the author of this book started with a conclusion and then worked it backwards, probably cherry-picking the research. Sadly, that technique is not uncommon these days. Tries to sensationalize certain events and makes up theories to sell more books plain and simple.
    The book is associated to some less than reliable Capone relatives who know nothing about the underworld in order try to make the book more believable.That in itself makes it biased. Great thing about it? New photos. Read other excellent works on Capone if you want the truth.

    If you want to see a newsreport on this book's flimsy new massacre theory then just google the words "dead wrong massacre" and you will see the first result leading you to the story disproving the theory.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted June 7, 2011

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    Posted May 29, 2010

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    Posted May 8, 2010

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    Posted March 9, 2011

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    Posted May 18, 2010

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    Posted October 22, 2010

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    Posted March 6, 2012

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    Posted August 17, 2011

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    Posted May 16, 2010

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    Posted May 15, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2011

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    Posted June 10, 2010

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