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"Not since the hunt for John Wilkes Booth... had so many sources been brought to bear in an attempt to jail one man," writes former Chicago magazine editor Eig (Opening Day). But Al Capone eluded them all-even J. Edgar Hoover. In a page-turning account, Eig details the chase for the elusive Capone, dissecting both the man and his myth. Born in Brooklyn in 1899, Alphonse Capone came to a booming, bustling, corrupt, and very thirsty Chicago in 1920, just as Prohibition began. Rising swiftly through the underworld ranks, Capone soon headed a crime syndicate he dubbed "the outfit," which dealt in bootleg alcohol, racketeering, drugs, and prostitution. Eig traces the largely unsuccessful efforts by various law enforcement agencies to bring him down. He focuses on U.S. Attorney George E.Q. Johnson, who finally saw Capone convicted in 1931 for tax evasion and conspiring to violate Prohibition laws, leading to an 11-year prison sentence. Using previously unreleased IRS files, Johnson's papers, even notes he discovered for a ghostwritten Capone autobiography, Eig presents a multifaceted portrait of a shrewd man who built a criminal empire worth millions. 16 pages of b&w photos. (May 1) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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Former reporter Eig has brought new life to the story of Al "Scarface" Capone, reporting on the life, crimes, and fall of America's most notorious gangster. Eig accessed newly discovered material to produce this fresh take on Capone, including the papers and never-released IRS files of Chicago's U.S. attorney, George E.Q. Johnson. He also discovered a letter that contains a plausible solution to the never-solved Valentine's Day massacre. (William "Three-Fingered Jack" White may have led the massacre to avenge the gangster killing of his cousin, a cop's son.) Wrapped in this biography is an engrossing account of Prohibition, Chicago, and legal history (Johnson's innovation of charging suspected criminals of lesser crimes to get a conviction is still in use today). Eig is a fascinating storyteller who throws in the occasional bon mot ("It was cold and gray, as if February had knocked off May and taken its place") that readers will enjoy. While the book would have benefited from a "cast of characters" to help readers keep track of the many players, the accompanying web site (getcapone.com) is a treasure-trove of material, including links to FBI and IRS files. VERDICT This book should be very popular with true crime and Prohibition history buffs; highly recommended. [See "Prepub Exploded," BookSmack!, November 5, 2009.]-Karen Sandlin Silverman, Ctr. for Applied Research, Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.