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Summary

From a National Book Award-winning biographer, the first complete life of legendary gangster Al Capone to be produced with the cooperation of his family, who provided the author with exclusive access to personal testimony and archival documents.

From his heyday to the present moment, Al Capone - Public Enemy Number One - has gripped popular imagination. Rising from humble Brooklyn roots, Capone went on to become the most infamous gangster in American history. At the height of Prohibition, his multimillion-dollar Chicago bootlegging, prostitution, and gambling operation dominated the organized-crime scene. His competition with rival gangs was brutally violent, a long-running war that crested with the shocking St. Valentine's Day Massacre of 1929. Law enforcement and the media elite seemed powerless to stop the growth of his empire. And then the fall: a legal noose tightened by the FBI, a conviction on tax evasion, Alcatraz. After his release he returned to his family in Miami a much diminished man, living quietly until the ravages of his neurosyphilis took their final toll. But the slick mobster persona endures, immortalized in countless novels and movies.

The true flesh-and-blood man behind the legend has long remained a mystery. Unscrupulous newspaper accounts and Capone's own tall tales perpetuated his mystique, but through dogged research Deirdre Bair debunks the most outrageous of these myths. With the help of Capone's descendants, she discovers his essential humanity, uncovering a complex character that was flawed and sometimes cruel but also capable of nobility. And while revealing the private Al Capone, a genuine family man as remembered by those who knew him best, Bair relates how his descendants have borne his weighty legacy.

Rigorous and intimate, Al Capone provides new answers to the enduring questions about this fascinating figure, who was equal parts charismatic gangster, devoted patriarch, and calculating monster.

©2016 Deirdre Bair (P)2016 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

"Deirdre Bair's enticing new gangster biography knocks it out of the park. In the hands of a master life-storyteller, Al Capone's brief, explosive career seems as all-American as apple pie and sawed-off shotguns. Fans of The Godfather, The Sopranos, or Boardwalk Empire are sure to find the book addictive." (Marion Meade, author of Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin: Writers Running Wild in the Twenties)
"Mastering everything known about Capone while blending first-ever contributions from his extended clan, Deirdre Bair has sifted fact from countless fictions to produce an intimate, psychologically astute, and richly embroidered biography of the most famous criminal in American history." (Dick Lehr, coauthor of Black Mass: Whitey Bulger, the FBI, and a Devil's Deal)
"Deirdre Bair's command of her subject is encyclopedic. Al Capone not only tells us about America's quintessential gangster, but also about the ineffectual politicians and misguided laws that paved the way for him. Never before have we had such a complete and engrossing picture of Capone's life and times." (Nicholas Pileggi, author of Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family and screenwriter of Goodfellas and Casino)

"In this audiobook, the author explores the myth and reality of Capone's life and expands the story by examining members of his larger family. Her style is straightforward, with heavy use of declarative sentences. This adapts extremely well to audio. Narrator Rob Shapiro enhances the writing with a clear, even voice that eschews any false theatrics.... In all, this well-written work is rendered even stronger by an able narration." (AudioFile)  

What members say

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if you have an interest in Al, listen to this

a real insight into the life, trials and tribulations of the most infamous mobster that ever lived

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A bit bookish, but generally very good

Given the excitement surrounding Al and his life, the glamour was taken out of it a bit and it became a bit academic. At least you knew you were getting quite close to the truth of the situation, I suppose. Well researched and lots of information but I would have liked some more 'spice' - even when the myths have been removed, Al Capone's life was incredibly dramatic and it would have been nice to have felt more of that.

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Behind the icon

What did you like most about Al Capone?

I loved how this book focused on the man behind the iconic public figure often written about. It's very well written and read.

What did you like best about this story?

The quick rise of the man who controlled Chicago and the family man behind that.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The trial for Tax Evasion and the escape in Florida.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It is a strange mix of feeling admiration for his rise and focus in doing so. And horror of the lengths he would go to remain in power

Any additional comments?

Great interesting book of one of the most famous US gangsters. Also, how did they expect people to live without having a drink!?

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Should be called 'A Study of Al Capones Family'

If you're looking (as most are I expect) for a full blown account of Al's rise and fall from power, then I fear you may be disappointed. The 'Golden Years' seem to have been merely mentioned in passing and more emphasis put on telling his family members (rather mundane) stories. I didn't buy this to hear about Als wife and mother..... put it like that.

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  • Christopher Deishler
  • 02-11-17

AWESOME!!!

Very in depth. Also does a great job on humanizing Al Capone. Very early to listen to.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Charles Barbieri
  • 10-06-17

Historical Facts Based on Documented History

A pretty thorough account of the entire Capone Family from the very beginning of the it journey from Italy.

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  • Nick
  • 05-05-17

Really poor job.

this book LIGHTLY covers Capone's criminal career and instead focuses on his emotions and feelings (wtf???) throughout the entire book, or at least until you get to the last 6 hours which are entirely about his final battle in the courtroom. really disappointed in this book.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Smile a bit more
  • 13-01-17

A trip back in time.

Perfectly narrated, several hours of great listening. Throughly enjoyed and well researched. Looking forward to more books by this author.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful