Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyWhat could be discounted as another Chicago gangster book, separates itself from the pack by the vivid detail with which it resurrects the flamboyant underworld characters, high-society capitalists and crooked politicians who ran The Windy City from 1880-1931 and established its notorious persona. Insightful parallels are drawn here between corrupt politicians, such as Michael ``Hinky Dink'' Kenna, gangsters like Al Capone, and great dynasts like Marshall Field and meatpacker Philip Armour, whose credo for success was `` . . . buy out or destroy any competitor whose products are better than your own.'' And while Johnson ( Nobody's Perfect ) and Sautter ( Expresslanes Through the Inevitable City ) sometimes bombard the reader with extraneous details, they make up for it in convincing reenactments of shoot-outs: ``Plaster and glass and splinters of paneling went flying, neat rows of bullet holes stitched themselves at waist level into walls.'' Portrayed here is a city in which politicians assisted bootleggers during prohibition and racketeers determined election results; a city that couldn't even keep its baseball team clean--witness the infamous 1919 White Sox. With cameo appearances by Babe Ruth, Al Jolson, Gloria Swanson and Mickey Mouse, this book has an all-star cast that may be cumbersome, but is never boring. Photos not seen by PW. (May)
Library Journal - Library JournalFiction writer Johnson (Song for Three Voices, LJ 5/1/85) has created a raucous, sprawling mural of Chicago from 1880 to 1931, with chapters on Theodore Dreiser and jazz contributed by Sautter. Johnson has a good ear for a punch line, and his breezy style keeps the narrative moving. He offers a drama with no heroes; the central characters are Al Capone and his mentor, Johnny Torrio. The rest of the cast are mostly other gangsters, corrupt politicians, and greedy capitalists, with a few artists and athletes. The final chapter contains a diatribe against capitalism and American politics past and present. This polemic is meant to serve as the context for evaluating the characters and careers of Capone and Torrio, but it gives the book an unfortunate tone of cynicism. A marginal purchase, in spite of the enduring popularity of the subject matter.-Wendy Knickerbocker, Rhode Island Coll. Lib., Providence
- December Press
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- 6.01(w) x 9.01(h) x 0.81(d)
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The Wicked City: Chicago from Kenna to Capone based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
As I said it's a nice pocket history of Chicago, mabsters, politicians and the cities well to do are here with the Black Socks scandel and The Everleigh Club. It's a fun nicly paced read, the chapters can each be read independently so it really makes a good train read. the foreword by Roger Ebert is very good as well.