The son of poor Italian immigrants struggling for a better life in early 20th-century New York, Capone chose a life of crime as a means of advancing his place in the world. His success brought him fabulous wealth and fame. His criminal deeds made him many enemies among law enforcement officers, politicians, and fellow criminals. Yet ultimately, Capone's downfall was his own misdeeds. Following a lengthy prison term, he died at age 48 from complications of syphilis. In his short life, Capone had become America's most feared criminal, and after his death, his legend cast an even greater shadow.
From his heyday to the present moment, Al Capone—Public Enemy Number One—has gripped popular imagination. Rising from humble Brooklyn roots, Capone went on to become the most infamous gangster in American history. At the height of Prohibition, his multimillion-dollar Chicago bootlegging, prostitution, and gambling operation dominated the organized-crime scene. His competition with rival gangs was brutally violent, a long-running war that crested with the shocking St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929. Law enforcement and the media elite seemed powerless to stop the growth of his empire. And then the fall: a legal noose tightened by the FBI, a conviction on tax evasion, Alcatraz. After his release he returned to his family in Miami a much diminished man, living quietly until the ravages of his neurosyphilis took their final toll. But the slick mobster persona endures, immortalized in countless novels and movies.
The true flesh-and-blood man behind the legend has long remained a mystery. Unscrupulous newspaper accounts and Capone’s own tall tales perpetuated his mystique, but through dogged research Deirdre Bair debunks the most outrageous of these myths. With the help of Capone’s descendants, she discovers his essential humanity, uncovering a complex character that was flawed and sometimes cruel but also capable of nobility. And while revealing the private Al Capone, a genuine family man as remembered by those who knew him best, Bair relates how his descendants have borne his weighty legacy.
Rigorous and intimate, Al Capone provides new answers to the enduring questions about this fascinating figure, who was equal parts charismatic gangster, devoted patriarch, and calculating monster.
From the Hardcover edition.
Drawing on recently discovered government documents, wiretap transcripts, and Al Capone’s handwritten personal letters, New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Eig tells the dramatic story of the rise and fall of the nation’s most infamous criminal in rich new detail.
From the moment he arrived in Chicago in 1920, Capone found himself in a world with limitless opportunity. Within a few years Capone controlled an illegal bootlegging business with annual revenue rivaling that of some of the nation’s largest corporations. Along the way he corrupted the Chicago police force and local courts while becoming one of the world’s first international celebrities. Legend credits Eliot Ness and his “Untouchables” with apprehending Capone, but Eig shows that this wasn’t so. In Get Capone, the man known as “Scarface” emerges as a complex man, doomed as much by his ego as by his vicious criminality. This is the real Al Capone.