“Al Capone: His Life, Legacy, and Legend” by Deirdre Bair— The Complete Life

al capone

Bair, Deirdre. “Al Capone: His Life, Legacy, and Legend”, Nan Talese, 2016.

The Complete Life

Amos Lassen

Deirdre Bair brings us the first complete life of legendary gangster Al Capone. It has been written with the cooperation of Capone’s family, who gave the author exclusive access to personal testimony and archival documents.

Capone was born in 1899 in Brooklyn, New York, to poor Italian immigrant parents and grew up to become the most infamous gangster in American history. In 1925, during the height of Prohibition, Capone’s multi-million-dollar Chicago bootlegging, prostitution, and gambling operation was not just part of the organized-crime scene, it dominated it. Capone was often in competition with rival gangs and he was brutally violent, taking part in a long-running war that reached its apex with the shocking St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929. Through it all, and despite the best efforts of law enforcement and the media elite, Capone remained above the fray. The strongest charge that Capone faced was federal income-tax evasion and in 1931 he was sentenced to eleven years in federal prison. Six-and-a-half years later, he was released but he suffered with neurosyphillis and lived out the rest of his life with his family in Miami. Al Capone’s life has fascinated the public imagination, and his life as a gangster has been immortalized in the countless movies and books inspired by his exploits.

As for the man behind the legend, we know that  Capone loved to tell tall tales that kept his mystique alive; newspapers loved him and frequently embellished or fabricated stories about him to sell copies. Some remember him as fundamentally kind and good while others remember how frightening he was and just a vicious, cold-blooded killer. Deirdre Bair finally gets at the truth behind this eternally fascinating persona. The book will be out in October.

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