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This classic history of crime tells how the Chicago underworld earned - and kept - its notorious reputation, from the time it was settled to the Prohibition days of the 1920s. Recounting the lives of such infamous early inhabitants as the original Mickey Finn and the mass murderer H. H. Holmes, it climaxes with the city's golden age of crime and a dramatic account of the careers of the biggest of the Big Shots - Big Jim Colosimo, Terrible Johnny Torrio, and the elusive Al Capone, revealing life as it was lived in the criminal districts and the infamous red light district where the brothels boasted opulence unheard of before or since. Rounded off with fascinating photographs and illustrations, this is one of the most detailed, reliable and readable accounts of the nether side of Chicago's first century.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099464761
ISBN-10: 0099464764
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 131mm x 32mm)
Pages: 448
Imprint: Arrow Books Ltd
Publisher: Cornerstone
Publish Date: 5-Jun-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


UK Kirkus Review » The Capital of Crime was ruled for decades by hoodlums who set their own 'laws', and heaven help anyone who strayed beyond them. Of course, many did - which was why gang warfare broke out for territorial and black-market rights. This history of Chicago and its villains, first published in 1940, follows the recent success of The Gangs Of New York, by the same author, which was turned into an award-winning film starring Daniel Day Lewis and Leonardo DiCaprio. Both books make essential reading for anyone with an interest in criminal history. Asbury tells the story of Chicago's development from its origins in putrid swampland to its dubious heyday in the era of Prohibition when glittering opulence surrounded its illicit clubs and brothels. Environment and personalities became indivisible, one seeming to feed off the other, until Chicago and gangsterism turned into words almost interchangeable. Some of the hoods portrayed here ran empires far more powerful than the Federal state. The original Mickey Finn, mass murderer H H Holmes and Big Jim Colosimo all worked their devilry through a combination of brainpower and ruthlessness. Asbury does not disguise his admiration for the formidable minds of these men, while he has contempt for Al Capone who was more of a thug in the way of the Kray twins than the bigshot he thought himself to be. There is irony in the very name Chicago - a corruption of the native name Chickagou, which meant 'stinking swamp'. The villains who ruled this city for so long caused a bigger stink than anyone could have imagined. Asbury describes the whole sordid business in riveting, shocking and bloody detail. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - Herbert Asbury

Herbert Asbury was born into a strictly Methodist family in Missouri in 1889. His pious background and his subsequent rejection of Methodism greatly influenced both his philosophy of life and his career as reporter and author. Indeed, many of his books deal with the darker, seamier side of American life. He died in 1963 of chronic lung problems, the legacy of a gas-attack in France during the first World War.

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