I’ve been waiting for this book for years.
There are so many works out there about Al Capone, most of them more fact than fiction, few of them recounting the gritty details of his battles with Eliot Ness during Prohibition. The Untouchables movie is more fantasy than reality, so was the TV show, depicting a Manicheean struggle between good and evil, law and order, etc. I wanted something that covered the full details of how these two met on the playing field of Chicago and what actually went down.
This book satisfied my curiosity and so much more. It layers details in all the best ways, keeping the momentum of the narrative going while maintaining readability. It makes Capone more complex and fascinating than he’s normally portrayed, without letting one forget that he was a stone cold killer. It brings Eliot Ness to life, both demythologizing him but also showing him in a favorable light with quality contributions that helped to nab Capone. And it lays bare the ridiculousness of Prohibition enforcement, coupled with nativist sentiment from WASP power brokers without taking away from the horrors of mass death that came with the beer wars.
If anyone wants a deeper look at Al Capone, the world he made, and how his rise and fall actually occurred, I’d recommend this in a heartbeat. It’s far better than other biographies and it gives the reader a complete picture of what was actually happening in Chicago at the time. Unquestionably, this is one of the best things I’ve read in 2020.