All I ever did was to sell beer and whiskey to our best people. All I ever did was to supply a demand that was pretty popular.
Why, the very guys that make my trade good are the ones that yell the loudest about me. Some of the leading judges use the stuff.
When I sell liquor, it's called bootlegging. When my patrons serve it on silver trays on Lake Shore Drive, it's called hospitality.
-- Al Capone
``I guess it's all over,'' Al Capone told his lawyer after being sentenced to prison for tax evasion in October 1931. But, as Schoenberg ( Geneen ) diligently shows, the public has never gotten over its obsession with the legendary mobster. Schoenberg traces Capone's life from his Brooklyn boyhood (he was a notable delinquent) through his famous Chicago years to his release from prison in 1939 and his death from neurosyphilis. This fast-paced, fact-filled, behind-the-scenes account of a skilled and brutal gangster lays bare the realities behind the myths about a man still known throughout the world 45 years after his death. Schoenberg's lively biography resonates with details of Capone's dealings with other gangsters, the press, government agents and agencies. Photos not seen by PW.
"…kind word & a gun…"
A lot is attributed to Al Capone, and the author does a good job of separating fact from fiction. What emerges is a man who was swept along by the times & shaped by circumstances. Did he do terrible things?—yes, of course he did. Did he set out to become a criminal?—hard to tell. He seemed to have been set on his track like so many immigrants of that era—the difference being that Capone was efficient & talented, birthing a criminal organization that became infamous.
While this book does drag in a few places & keeping track of such a myriad cast of characters can be challenging, this is a good read.