cover image Capone: The Man and the Era

Capone: The Man and the Era

Laurence Bergreen. Simon & Schuster, $30 (704pp) ISBN 978-0-671-74456-4

In 1925, at the age of 26, Al Capone became the most powerful, most visible racketeer in Prohibition-era Chicago. Bergreen ( As Thousands Cheer: The Life of Irving Berlin ) has done a prodigious amount of research. He traces Capone's childhood in Brooklyn, his entry into organized crime and his violent rise to the top of the Chicago crime world. He focuses on Capone's battles with law-enforcement agencies that eventually resulted, in 1931, in his conviction on tax evasion charges and imprisonment at Alcatraz. Bergreen concludes by describing the collapse of Capone's health and his death from syphilis in 1947. He also writes of the colorful characters who were involved with Capone, including Eliot Ness (made famous by TV's The Untouchables ) who Bergreen claims had little to do with Capone's arrest. The author's zeal to cover every aspect of Capone's life with many anecdotes and sidebars, unfortunately dulls his narrative. But crime buffs may appreciate his hard work. Photos not seen by PW. BOMC alternate; author tour. (Aug.)