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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Reinventing Al Capone

     Except for books about writers and the writing life, the memoir has become my least favorite literary genre. I'm sick of manufactured sob stories; celebrity drivel you can get from People Magazine; fiction passed off as fact; revisionist, self-serving history; autobiographical narcissism; and memoirists trying to create something out of nothing. While there are very few of us worthy of a memoir, everybody seems to be writing one, including people with relatives who were once famous, or better yet, infamous. A memoir published in 2010 by Deirdre Marie Capone, the grandniece of the prohibition gangster Al Capone, represents this form of literary exploitation.

     When Al Capone died on January 25, 1947, the author of Uncle Al Capone: The Untold Story From Inside His Family," was 7-years-old. During the first six years of her life, uncle Al was doing time at Alcatraz for the least of his crimes, tax evasion. When they released him in November 1939, Capone's brain was partially destroyed by untreated syphilis. He spent his last months on earth in a bath robe fishing in his swimming pool on Palm Island in Biscayne Bay, Florida.

     It's safe to say that the author of this memoir had no direct contact with her great uncle. And even if she had, she was 7-years-old. This book was obviously not written from her journal entries. Nevertheless, Deirdre Capone wants us to believe that Al Capone was the victim of heavy-handed law enforcers who exaggerated the extent of his criminality. The author is telling us that Capone was nothing more than a successful businessman giving the American public what it wanted--illegal booze. Moreover, the man loved his family and liked to cook. If half of what has been written and said about Al Capone is false, he is still one of the most violent and evil criminals in American history.

       As a "businessman," Capone killed his competitors, and anyone who refused to buy his alcohol. Sure, people wanted their prohibition era booze, but they didn't bargain for the extortion, arson, kidnapping, aggravated assault, and first-degree murder that went with doing business with a man who employed more than 600 thugs and gangsters. Having paid-off most of the cops and federal prohibition agents in Chicago, Capone had a license to kill, and he used it. Calling Al Capone a "businessman" is like calling Adolph Hitler a statesman who loved his dog

     Like most mob leaders, Capone moved up the gangster career ladder by murdering people who stood in his way. He killed several men over petty arguments and barroom insults. Those he didn't murder ended up with broken arms, legs, and skulls. At an organized crime banquet he once hosted, Capone beat an associate to death with a baseball bat as he sat over his pasta. And on February 14, 1929, he masterminded the execution style mass murder of seven members of a rival gang in the so-called St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Some businessman.


  1. Al was not a nice guy but he wanted to act like a nice guy, ecpecially in front of people that didn't know hem personally, people like journalists,judges,etc. Man who choos to be a gangster can never be a nice guy but at list Al Capone was nicer person then other gangsters from that era like Albert Anastasia,Dutch Schultz,Bugsy Siegel who were known as psychopaths that can not make neither normal conversation.

  2. I respect Al Capone, don't get me wrong, I hate gangsters, criminals, ect, but I think Al Capone beside he was a criminal he was also a charismatic man, he was a born leader from his childhood years.
    There are not many charismatic leaders in the history.
    I was born in former Yougoslavija, then the biggest hero for many years was marshal Tito. Today Tito is accused for many bad things that he had done as a president but all of the public agree that Tito was a very charismatic leader. Charisma can not possess every man.

  3. Jim,

    Take a look at how Hollywood "glamorized" The Mafia-Godfather Movies, Casino etc. What makes me aggravated the most is how young kids look at these criminals as some kind of heroes based upon these movies/books. That is the greateset disservice to the community.

  4. I agree with you Jim, but Al Capone was already а known criminal for many decades before those movies were made. Don't forget that great old actors like James Cagney, Edward G Robinson and Humphrey Bogart use to play many movie roles as gangsters. I guess that the people and kids in those old days were more mature to realize that it was just a movie. I personally think that action movies with Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger were much more violent than those Gangster movies. At list those old movies were made by great directors and great actors. Today you can see far more violently tv series and movies that are made by bad directors and bad actors.

  5. I wish booze was still illegal so I can grow up to be just like him Jim crys like an old women who cares the man is dead

  6. Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.
    Hollywood makes films for one reason - money. People forget they are ENTERTAINMENT for the most part. However, the mind is a funny thing. Unless a good parent talks with their kids about the reality, rather than the message " in the film, this type of hero worship could be curtailed.
    The anti heros, like Capone, live on due to false presentation and glorification.