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Capone: The Man and the Era
     

Capone: The Man and the Era

4.6 10
by Laurence Bergreen
 
Al Capone reached a pinnacle of celebrity that modern-day upstarts like John Gotti can only dream about. Going behind the myths and movie portrayals, Bergreen introduces Capone as he really was--a cold-blooded killer who saw himself as a modern-day Robin Hood. Bergreen creates an unequaled portrait of prohibition-era America. Includes 16-page photo insert.

Overview

Al Capone reached a pinnacle of celebrity that modern-day upstarts like John Gotti can only dream about. Going behind the myths and movie portrayals, Bergreen introduces Capone as he really was--a cold-blooded killer who saw himself as a modern-day Robin Hood. Bergreen creates an unequaled portrait of prohibition-era America. Includes 16-page photo insert.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Biography of the legendary prohibition-era gangster. (Aug.)
Library Journal
In the wake of Robert J. Schoenberg's Mr. Capone (LJ 8/92), called "the most detailed biography of Capone published to date" by LJ's reviewer, comes an even more detailed account based on extensive research and interviews. Bergreen, who has written biographies of James Agee and Irving Berlin, has "abandoned conventional assumptions of...right and wrong" in his sympathetic portrayal of the one-time Public Enemy Number One. He blames the hypocrisies of Prohibition and anti-Italian bias for creating Capone's undeserved reputation, and he is especially critical of Capone nemesis Eliot Ness. Bergreen labels the tax evasion trial that sent Capone to prison a "legalistic lynching" and tends to excuse Capone's more unsavory actions as the results of "latent neurosyphilis." However controversial, this book offers much of interest, including new information about Capone and his family. Larger crime collections will want both books.-Gregor A. Preston, Univ. of California Lib., Davis
Joe Collins
People still respond to the mention of Chicago by saying, "Al Capone. Rat-a-tat-tat." But public enemy number one did not personally use the Thompson submachine gun to protect his bootlegging empire, says Bergreen, although his associates most certainly did. In fact, Bergreen sets out to dispel the hoodlum-killer aspect of Capone's career, instead focusing on the racketeer's insistence on being a businessman. For the most part, despite the Saint Valentine's Day massacre and numerous other gang killings, he succeeds. Bergreen starts out slowly, tending to blame much of Capone's later actions on a poor childhood, and concentrating on the future gangster's ostracism by fellow immigrant Irish and even Sicilians (Capone's family was Neapolitan). A side plot about a long-lost brother's becoming a Great Plains lawman is intriguing but doesn't really go anywhere, and another lawman, "untouchable" Eliot Ness, self-proclaimed Capone scourge, fares poorly; Ness is annoying to the Capone empire, but not much else. Most revealing of all are the gangster's declining years in Alcatraz, where Capone tried to teach himself to play the banjo! Bergreen's view of Capone the man is not particularly surprising otherwise, but the 1920s view of Prohibition-era Chicago is tremendously entertaining.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780671744564
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
06/02/1994
Pages:
704

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