The Man and the Era

Book - 1994
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Baker & Taylor
The real man emerges from behind the legend in a portrait of the notorious gangster that includes the little-known story of his older brother--a lawman and Prohibition officer--and brings to life the 1920s and 1930s in America

Blackwell North Amer
Al Capone is an American legend, "Scarface," the mythic arch criminal and role model for scores of lesser crime bosses, right down to our own day. Now, in this fascinating, brilliantly readable, revisionist new biography, he also emerges as one of the most complex, influential, and perhaps misunderstood figures of the brawling, glamorous era that shaped and defined modern America.
Laurence Bergreen's Capone is a far cry from the vulgar, mindless "Scarface" of countless movies. Without diminishing any of the violent glamour that made Capone a larger-than-life figure in his lifetime, Bergreen has meticulously stripped away the legend to show us the real man - more interesting and in many ways more sympathetic.
The most notorious gangster ever, in a nation that worshiped famous criminals and still lived on the edge of frontier violence, Capone recalled a pinnacle of celebrity that made him at once a folk hero and the embodiment of evil and corruption. There is no doubt that Capone was the real thing - a cold, vicious killer; a thief; a pimp; a racketeer - ignoring the law and disdainful of its enforcers. At the same time he was a complex man who loved the limelight and managed to seize the public's attention with his flamboyance, his daring, his erratic moods, and the flagrant way he thumbed his nose at authority, as well as a devoted son, a loving father, a loyal (if unfaithful) husband, often generous to those in need, a defender of the downtrodden - and an unlikely hero to many in a generation of Americans who felt disenfranchised by a society they saw as corrupt and moribund.
Bergreen brings to life this colorful, contradictory man, tracing Capone's background from his earliest days as a poor kid in a tough, dangerous Brooklyn neighborhood, through his early attempts to earn a legitimate living, on to his surrender to the call to join his former neighborhood pals in their game of rackets, theft, and murder. Capone's move to Chicago was followed by an almost meteoric rise through the ranks of the gangsters who ran that city, keeping its officials under their control and its people in their thrall.
He not only paints a new - and far more interesting - picture of Capone, his book is also shot through with surprises and noteworthy revelations surrounding Capone's life: His older brother, Richard, was a decorated war hero, and a famous Western lawman dedicated to the strict two-gun enforcement of Prohibition... To escape the pressures and the heat - both literal and figurative - of Chicago, Capone spent many summers at a country retreat in Michigan, where he was accepted and protected by the community as a hero and an upstanding citizen... Eliot Ness, Capone's nemesis, the federal agent who pursued him so relentlessly and who gained fame as head of the "Untouchables," was in real life a headline-grabbing, narcissistic drunk...
Interwoven with Bergreen's penetrating portrait of the man who so dominated his era's imagination is a fascinating account of that time and of the society that created the void filled so effectively by Capone and his compatriots. In colorful detail, the author brings to life the '20s and '30s in America, showing why and how Prohibition came about, describing the illicit liquor trade, giving us an extraordinary portrait of Chicago, the brawling metropolis in which gangsters flourished and where Capone carved out for himself a sinister and notorious private empire.
From the brutal wars in which Capone climbed to the top of gangsterdom, to his long incarceration as one of the first prisoners in the new Federal penitentiary at Alcatraz, to a detailed account of his long slide into illness and death, Laurence Bergreen's big, richly detailed biography is both a penetrating account of America's descent into wildness as the nation shed its innocence in the wake of World War I - and a grandly entertaining biography of the man who dominated the era and came to symbolize its excesses.

& Taylor

The real man emerges from behind the legend in a portrait of the notorious gangster that includes the little-known story of his older brother--a lawman and Prohibition officer--and brings to life the 1920s and 1930s in America. 40,000 first printing. Tour.

Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, c1994
ISBN: 9780671744564
Characteristics: 701 p. : ill. ; 24 cm


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