From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. 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)
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Certainly enough has been written about Capone to make new books on the gangster and the hunt for him seem extraneous, but Eig takes a fresh approach to his subject by relying on new interviews and IRS files on Capone's 1931 prosecution. Critics praised Eig's solid reporting and ability to draw a rich, historical context and tease out Capone's complexity. "He's wiped away the garbage and given us a man," noted the Chicago Sun-Times
, "[s]omeone monstrous, in short, but recognizably human." A few reviewers disagreed about Eig's writing style, and not all enjoyed his details on tax evasion or bought his claims about the St. Valentine's Day massacre. If previous books cover the same material, Eig, in the end, manages to put a more human face on Capone--where possible.