Get Capone by Jonathan Eig, an atmospheric biography of the iconic gangster is subtitled, somewhat misleadingly, The Secret Plot to Get America’s Most Wanted Gangster. The book’s true focus is not the endgame of Capone’s criminal saga, but the glory days of his career in Prohibition Chicago.
Narrator Dick Hill sounds like a Chicago ‘wise guy’ who saw the whole thing unfolding from a corner bar; his flat accent and hearty delivery convey Capone and company’s style and swagger. Eig charts the kingpin’s rise, beginning with his 1923 arrival from Brooklyn, following mentor Johnny Torrid, but he and Hill are in no rush. There are countless stops to smell the coffee or Mama Capone’s cooking. (Eig’s description of the matriarch making braciole, the Italian beef dish, is reason enough to whip some up.) In depicting the characters in Capone’s world, from rival Diamond Jim (James Colosimo) to club doorman, we are likely to be told the shape of one’s facial features, the color of another’s tie.
Hill, like a veteran of the jaded city to a tourist, relates the backdrop of Chicago politics and the post-WWI Roaring Twenties hedonism that Prohibition sought to temper but only stoked. He is at his best when he robustly gives us Capone in the gangster’s words. We are able to perceive, beyond his brute acumen in bootlegging and mob management, Capone’s mastery of the media that made him an international celebrity, the inspiration for countless Hollywood movies, and the archetypal gangster you hate to love. Extolling family values and the pleasure of an innocent glass of beer, he’d tell the press, “I’m just a businessman…All l do is satisfy a public demand.” Hill conveys, by playing it straight, the irony in Capone’s statements praising those honest judges and prosecutors out to get him in contrast to the myriad officials he is able to bribe or threaten.
Federal and local authorities finally succeed in putting Capone away for tax evasion. But by the time of his release, Eig shows us graphically the advance of syphilis that would kill him at age 48 has set in. Despite the book’s historical accuracy, the cumulative effect of the author’s detail and Hill’s enthusiastic rendition are insistent that we, once again, admire the Capone legend. Elly Schull Meeks
Acclaimed journalist and best-selling author Jonathan Eig blows the lid off the Al Capone story. Based on never-before-seen government documents and newly discovered letters written by Al Capone himself, Get Capone presents America's greatest gangster as you’ve never seen him before.
In addition to IRS files, Eig got hold of the personal papers of the U.S. attorney in Chicago who prosecuted Capone. He even found family members who would share stories about their notorious relative. The author, a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal, brings his uncompromising standards for research and his superb knack for storytelling to one of the most thrilling stories in American history. This eye-opening biography reveals that Capone was the target of one of the most intense criminal investigations in American history - with orders coming directly from the White House. Capone flaunted his criminal success so openly that President Hoover insisted the gangster be stopped. And, despite his many misdeeds, Capone may have been the victim of a rigged trial.
Get Capone also offers a bold new theory to explain the Valentine's Day Massacre and sheds new light on Capone's connection - or lack thereof - to the crime.
©2010 Jonathan Eig (P)2010 Tantor
"Eig presents a multifaceted portrait of a shrewd man who built a criminal empire worth millions." (Publishers Weekly)
Jonathan Eig superbly tells the tale of a man whose legend still permeates Chicago. Working with a compelling script, the narrator does an excellent job of bringing to life Capone, his crew and the cast of local and federal government officials who interact with him.
Eig does a masterful job of re-creating the Roaring Twenties and detailing Capone's exploits. At the same time, he methodically examines the crimes that have long been attributed to Capone. Relying on his dogged reporting skills, Eig adds texture to some events, while persuasively debunking others.
This is one of those books that will have listeners looking for excuses to take errands so they can listen to just a few more minutes. Great yarn!
An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.
I enjoyed this book. I think it is a great companion to those that love Boardwalk Empire because it follows Capone's life.
Al Capone hands down! He was a larger than life character and this book makes him come alive.
He is a very good narrator on non fiction books. He keeps me interested in his rapid pace delivery. Reminds me of Walter Winchell.
No, it's his entire life story plus other Chicago stories including the Valentine's Day Massacre.
Great book if you are interested in Al Capone and the gangster life.
This book had alot of facts like, names, dates, street names, cities, etc. So many it was hard to remember them all and keep it all straight. I also think it wasn't written in completely chronological order (confusing). To me the most interesting part was the epilogue. It would have been nice to have heard Capone's life story in his words and from his point of view. I think that is what I was looking for.
The cool thing about this book is the perspective I got on how different everything was in the 20's and 30's. Jonathan Eig has a knack for choosing the facts to include in a way that tells a good story, and omitting unnessesary, boring details. It's wild to imagine a prominant criminal in today's world being so adored by the press and the general public. It's also amazing how primitive forensic science was back then. You could just kill someone, and if you just left the state forever, you probably would never get caught. Makes me wonder how much crime was going on back then that we didn't know about.
The narrator chosen for this book is not the most talented I've ever heard. His style is a little corny and he makes every character, even Herbert Hoover and J. Edgar Hoover, sound like Italian mobsters. Still, I think he was the right choice for this book. He's got a good feel for the story.
Although I basically agree with the other reviews I have found this no where as enjoyable as I thought it would be after seeing an interview with the author. This book reads more like a news article than a story and although that gives a lot of interesting information it can be tedious at times. Add to that the reader doesn't really have the right tone to make some of the limited dialog interesting, and I find myself only able to listen to it for around an hour art a time before I start getting sleepy from it...And when operating 40 tons of tractor and trailer getting sleepy isn't what I'm looking for. Someone like Joe Montagna who reads audio might have made this more interesting, but as is I'm just not that impressed with it....Lesson learned though...Don't purchase without listening to the sample first. If the reader doesn't sit right with you then it can be a tough listen for all those hours.....
If you like Chicago stories, popular biography, popular history, or true crime, I heartily recommend this well-writeen and well-read book. I enjoyed every minute!
Who has not heard of Al Capone and Elliot Ness, sometimes to excess but the views presented by this author make this one hard to stop listening to? The book gets right into his nefarious past and at times actually has you feeling almost sorry for him. A brutal criminal that if it were not for the IRS he could have written a book on how to be a professional criminal and get away with a plethora of crimes.I wish the IRS had as many imaginative techniques to nail all the drug dealers running lose.
Make it more condensed.
It was kind of sad in a way.
Yes. He's always pretty good.
This is an extremely detailed book about Capone. If you're interested in knowing everything there is to know about him, this is for you. I really didn't want to now that much, so I skipped through chapters. The ending was the best part of the book.
Say something about yourself!
The story line is the best part and the reason I purchased the book. It's not like a new read. There have been hundreds of publications and movies generated in whole or in part from Capone's life or legacy. I don't know what the addictive element is but I never tire of the Capone like and era stories. There was a little bit of additional information in this book but overall, it was another recycle of already recycled material.
I didn't have a reaction to the ending because, after all, we all know how it ends before we begin Chapter 1.
I did not care for the narrator. All the characters had almost the same tone, sound, and it was almost monotone. At times, the narration made me feel as though I was dredging mud. I would just as soon have been, too. Actually, I think maybe I might have groaned out loud a couple of times because of how the narrator droned.
There are better books and movies already published about Capone. I would not go see a movie based on this book and have a hard time imaging it as a blockbuster.
While the book was not a waste of time, it was not a good investment. I have only so much time set aside for pleasure reading so I want the books I choose to have value and impact. Capone fell way short of that expectation. I wouldn't buy it again if I could undo my purchase nor would I read it again if I could undo my reading of Capone.
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