The new definitive history of gangster-era Chicago–a landmark work that is as riveting as a thriller
A CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARY BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
“An extraordinary achievement. The writing is riveting, the research impeccable.” —Sara Paretsky
“Gripping. ... Reads like a novel.” —Chicago magazine
“Revolutionizes our understanding of Al Capone and Eliot Ness." —Matthew Pearl
Includes 115 photographs and a map of gangland Chicago.
In 1929, thirty-year-old gangster Al Capone ruled both Chicago's underworld and its corrupt government. To a public who scorned Prohibition, "Scarface" became a local hero and national celebrity. But after the brutal St. Valentine's Day Massacre transformed Capone into "Public Enemy Number One," the federal government found an unlikely new hero in a twenty-seven-year-old Prohibition agent named Eliot Ness. Chosen to head the legendary law enforcement team known as "The Untouchables," Ness set his sights on crippling Capone's criminal empire.
Today, no underworld figure is more iconic than Al Capone and no lawman as renowned as Eliot Ness. Yet in 2016 the Chicago Tribune wrote, "Al Capone still awaits the biographer who can fully untangle, and balance, the complexities of his life," while revisionist historians have continued to misrepresent Ness and his remarkable career.
Enter Max Allan Collins and A. Brad Schwartz, a unique and vibrant writing team combining the narrative skill of a master novelist with the scholarly rigor of a trained historian. Collins is the New York Times bestselling author of the gangster classic Road to Perdition. Schwartz is a rising-star historian whose work anticipated the fake-news phenomenon.
Scarface and the Untouchable draws upon decades of primary source research—including the personal papers of Ness and his associates, newly released federal files, and long-forgotten crime magazines containing interviews with the gangsters and G-men themselves. Collins and Schwartz have recaptured a bygone bullet-ridden era while uncovering the previously unrevealed truth behind Scarface's downfall. Together they have crafted the definitive work on Capone, Ness, and the battle for Chicago.
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About the Author
Max Allan Collins is a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master. He is the author of the Shamus Award-winning Nathan Heller thrillers and the graphic novel Road to Perdition, basis of the Academy Award-winning film starring Tom Hanks. His innovative Quarry novels led to a 2016 Cinemax series. He has completed a dozen posthumous Mickey Spillane mysteries, and wrote the syndicated Dick Tracy series for more than fifteen years. His one-man show, Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life, was an Edgar Award finalist. He lives in Iowa.
A. Brad Schwartz is the author of Broadcast Hysteria: Orson Welles's War of the Worlds and the Art of Fake News, based in part on research from his senior thesis at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He cowrote a documentary about the War of the Worlds broadcast for the PBS series American Experience. He is currently a doctoral candidate in American history at Princeton University.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Untouchable Truth xi
Map: Organized Crime in 1920s Chicago xxi
Rogues' Gallery xxiii
Prologue: St. Valentine's Day 1
Part 1 Prairie Avenue Boys
1 1895-11920 13
2 1850-1923 29
3 1920-1925 45
4 1925-1926 61
5 1925-1926 73
6 1926-1927 89
7 1927 107
8 Spring-Summer 1928 121
9 Winter 1927-Summer 1928 137
10 August 1928-January-1929 155
Part 2 Citizen Capone
11 January-March 1929 175
12 February-October 1929 193
13 May-October 1929 209
14 December 1929-March 1930 227
15 December 1929-April 1930 243
16 March-June 1930 259
17 June-August 1930 271
18 June-October 1930 289
19 November-December 1930 303
Part 3 On The Spot
20 December 1930-February 1931 317
21 December 1930-February 1931 333
22 February-May 1931 349
23 Spring-Summer 1931 367
24 June-July 1931 385
25 Summer 1931 405
26 October 1931 423
27 October 1931 441
28 Octobr 1931-January 1932 463
29 February-May 1932 483
30 1932-1934 503
Epilogue: The Great American City 529
Acknowledgements: A Tip of the Fedora 551
Note on Sources 557
Source Notes 565
Rogues' Gallery Credits 675