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Kobler's and Schoenberg's book for me rate the most highest for truth and photos.The rest are just re-hashed info taken from these two books with much added sensationalizism. Another good view would be Jake Lingle by John Boettiger who reported at the time these events were happening. Equal to this is The One Way Ride and Rattling The Cup. Fred Pasley's book on Capone is politically correct, as it was okayed by Capone. Kenneth Allsop's The Bootleggers is great book to familiarize yourself with all the characters that made up Chicago's gangdom.
I have been getting pretty irritated as of late with inquiries as to the validity of Bergreen's assumptions on Al Capone's supposed over cocaine use, supposed mob bosses above him from Chicago Heights, and a new rumor about Al in a sexual three way with McGurn and Jake Lingle???Oh yes!!! Al Capone who was overly homophobic in a three way?? Personally, I think it's a load of bullcrap, as is most of what Bergreen assumes. Pure sensationalism to sell books. Kind of like "Hey! look what new invented stuff I dug up on Al that nobody else could find!!" this with a few photos acquired from the family thrown in is just cheap ass recipe to sell books.
First off Capone never took orders from anyone when in command of the Chicago outfit. Every historian or who's who agrees on that. Think of it, Capone sent Chicago guys into New York to whack Frankie Yale. Now that's taking charge.
Now as far as the cocaine thing, Bergreen got a doctor friend by the name of Jack Shapiro to agree with him at about the time of his book release in saying that Capone's hole in his septum was the cause of Al being a big time cocaine abuser. Keep in mind that Shapiro was a "Medical consultant" for Bergreen's book. (Probably paid)
First off, I have researched the medical documents that Al was operated on at the Eastern state penintentiary in 1929-1930 for two things, his tonsils and he went under the knife for a sinus infection.This was confirmed by the physicians at Alcatraz. Hole could have came from there. Second, a hole in the septum is very consistent in people having untreated advanced neurosyphilis.
I won't tell you Al never saw or did cocaine. He probably tried it,as most did in the roaring twenties and at his wild parties.
It was pretty common in the early 1920's Chicago to find tea rooms in which cocaine was ingested. (Sniffed). I find the hole caused by cocaine a wee bit extreme.The doctor also made the mention in his 1994 letter to the New York times that this hole was made by just occaisional cocaine use? Hmmm! I hung around with a rough biker crowd growing up and I knew heavy cocaine users who had no hole in the septum. (Just in the head).
This is my opinion.I think it's important for people not to believe everything they read outright. Ask questions, view documents and get many opinions from people really in the know on the gangster subject.
Many people thought Bugs Moran was Irish or Polish. Well, look what that got them!!!!
Organize Crime in Chicago by John Landesco is a crime report with statistics on various gangs and funerals of times(Who's Who). Expensive, but worth it.($60). Bergreen's book is rehashed stuff with errors and a few new photos. The legacy of Al Capone by George Murray adds a more in depth view of elections and how rackets in the work industry function at Capone's time Great read! The Dry and Lawless decade by Judge John Lyle is worthy for the first and account he gives relating to gangsters.He has a certain fondness for George "Bugs" Moran. I liked this book except for a total messup with Al's death date.This book is ghostwritten by Jack McPhaul ( Who also wrote the book Johnny Torrio).The rest are fun reads nonetheless and are essential this hobby.
First Posted July 2007