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Guns and Roses: The Untold Story of Dean O'Banion, Chicago's Big Shot Before Al Capone Paperback – September 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 294 pages
  • Publisher: Cumberland House Publishing (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581823789
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581823783
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,659,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I've written three books that examine the lives and crimes of early American gangsters: "Guns and Roses- The Untold Story of Dean O'Banion, Chicago's Big Shot Before Al Capone", "The Man Who Got Away- the Bugs Moran Story". and most recently "The Starker", which is a bio of New York gang boss Big Jack Zelig, who lived hard, died young, and could have saved Lieutenant Charles Becker from the electric chair. I'm currently at work on two new projects: the first biography of infamous nativist gangster 'Butcher Bill' Poole (who inspired the Daniel Day-Lewis character in Scorsese's 'Gangs of New York' and a detailed study of veteran labor slugger / gangster boss 'Dopey' Benny Fein.

I've been consulted as an expert on America's criminal history by the History Channel, LucasFilm, and others. Please visit my official site at www.rosekeefe.com

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Rose Keefe worked fifteen years on her research for this book.
Ellen Poulsen
The book focuses on the rivalry between the Northside Chicago mob and the Southside Torrio-Capone mob.
Douglas E. Libert
Anybody interested in Chicago history or the Prohibition Era must read this book!
Mari Abba

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bill Emblom on May 1, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Even though I have read numerous other books on Chicago's infamous past during the prohibition years I found Rose Keefe's effort entitled Guns and Roses to be another fascinating read which is primarily devoted to Al Capone's North Side rivals. O'Banion's loss of his mother at an early age and subsequent move to a seedy section of Chicago contributed to Dean's alliance with the city's criminal element. The warring parties were driven by greed in invading each other's assigned territory during the beer wars. After the assassination of O'Banion in his florist shop in 1924 a number of his friends (Weiss, Drucci, and Moran) all had short terms heading the North Side mob. Weiss and Drucci being shot and Moran having his gang virtually wiped out at the St. Valentine's Day Massacre on February 14, 1929. If you have read other books on this subject you can prepare yourself to enjoy yet another offering on the subject with this book. In addition, this book has photographs I have not seen in other books. I'm sure you won't be disappointed.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Edward D. Terhune on October 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
At long last! Finally! Bravo! This is what all biographies of underworld figures should be, and almost never are. Indeed, it's what all biographies should be. It will be the benchmark against which all subsequent books about organized crime figures are to be judged. Reading this book, I was in awe of Ms. Keefe's ability to journey back through the mists of time, and hack her way through the hoary legends, and urban myths, the lies and distortions and half-truths that infest far too many books like this, and succeed in transforming O'Banion from the merry, bloodthirsty stereotype he's been for so long into an actual flesh-and-blood human being. Thanks to the journalistic alchemy of Ms. Keefe, O'Banion comes alive in these pages in a way that he never has in any of the other books I've read on this topic. I'm astonished at the amount of new, illuminating information she's been able to unearth in her research. Am I gushing? I guess it's just that I've read so many flawed, poorly-researched underworld fantasies that masquerade as history or biography that coming across Ms. Keefe's work reminds me of why I started reading books like this in the first place. Her writing is as vibrant and exciting as the era she writes about. I'm currently reading her biography of Bugs Moran and can't wait for the next one. I hope she continues researching and writing for a long, long time to come...To sum it up, Ms. Keefe's books are an historical goldmine, and a thrilling read to boot. Buy 'em.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Rick "Mad Dog" Mattix on February 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
For too long the North Siders have been relegated to the shadow of Al Capone and Rose Keefe has now come forth to rectify this situation with a wonderful biography of Chicago's first celebrity gangster, Dean (not Dion) Charles O'Banion, whose death touched off five years of bloodshed known as the Chicago "Beer Wars." Her impeccable research, bolstered through interviews with elderly witnesses who actually knew O'Banion, uncovers both a complex and interesting man and one of the most colorful antiheroes of the '20's. The writing style is marvelous and this is both an impressive debut volume and a must for any crime library and this reviewer also looks anxiously forward to her followup work on George "Bugs" Moran.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Borowy26 VINE VOICE on July 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is the most comprehensive and thoroughly researched biography of Dean O'Banion and it has been justly recognized as definitive. Rose Keefe's greatest accomplishment is that her meticulous research has refuted dozens of journalistic half truths, embellishments and canards that have become commonly accepted as the truth simply because of constant repetition over eight decades. The actual Dean O'Banion is a far more complex and interesting character than his newspaper stereotype.

Many sources have characterized the Prohibition battles between the Northside Gang and the Capone/Torrio mob as simply a territorial battle between the Irish and those damned Dagoes. Keefe correctly points out that the Northsiders were, in fact, an exceedingly diverse group comprised of Irish, Italian, German, Jewish and Polish hoodlums. The reality was more complicated than the widely accepted conventional wisdom.

Although O'Banion could act in an utterly ruthless manner if circumstances warranted, more often than not he relied upon his quick wits. He possessed superior intelligence and had an engaging personality that inspired great loyalty from his comrades even long after his death.

Despite his humble origins, O'Banion had the ability to put people from various walks of life at perfect ease and to form lasting friendships that allowed him to move easily in political and social circles despite his criminal background. O'Banion was a contradiction: he was a devoted son and husband. One could envision the industrious O'Banion succeeding in almost any field of endeavor that he tried.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By M. ORourke on January 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
Because of his paradoxical character and personal flamboyance, Dean O'Banion has long presented an easy target for Prohibition-era commentators in search of a standing foil for Al Capone. And most of those commentators have been content to repeat, and embellish, the superficial tabloid legends that have framed his image over the years. Never the subject of a searching and serious biography (until now), O'Banion has typically been portrayed as the kind of stereotypical gangster psychopath so beloved by Hollywood screenwriters. But no one who inspired the loyalty, respect and affection of so many of his contemporaries could have been as psychologically impaired as the man portrayed in the existing literature. Now, at long last, without excusing or minimizing the violence and thievery at which O'Banion excelled, Rose Keefe has written -- in a beautiful and crisp journalistic style -- a carefully researched biography that catalogs his life in its full context. And along the way she provides a host of insights into other gangster notables who, along with O'Banion, formed the legendary North Side Mob. "Guns and Roses" is an important and long overdue contribution to the body of literature that deals with that fascinating time. Serious students of the period and gangster buffs, alike, should give it a careful read - both for the information it provides and the sheer enjoyment of the read.

MORourke
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