Saturday, March 31, 2007

St. Valentines Day Massacre Theories


Helmer and Bilek's book goes into the different theories that abounded about the St. Valentines Day Massacre. One of the earliest was that rogue cops who were on the take and angry at not being paid off actually hit Moran's gang.

It's funny but the book points out that Capone was not immediately associated with the murders. In fact NYC papers began to link Capone to the crime before Chicago papers did.

Much of the stuff that I had heard about the massacre turns out to be false. For instance no one knows exactly why the Moran gang was meeting that morning in that garage; but it was not to accept delivery for booze hijacked from Capone. The authors write logically that the men assembled in the garage for the most part were Moran's top men. His men in charge of racketeering and gambling and his top hit men. They also weren't dressed for labor (with the exception of the mechanic who was there for his daily job). Definitely a set up.

You know the thing about history is that hind sight is 20/20 vision. I wonder what I would have thought if this were 1929 and I was reading about this for the first time. Would I have believed everything I read? I guess in a way the newspaper coverage of the murders was excessive, but it doesn't seem like overkill. I mean there wasn't TV coverage yet and even with newsreels I think the public was able to forget about what happened until they picked up the newspaper again. I guess I'm trying to say something about how the innocent simpler time wasn't all that innocent but the evil and the bad didn't bombard you the way it does now. So was having mass communication on a smaller scale better? Hmmmm?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

St. Valentines Day Massacre


OK, I'm in a weird mood so that's why I'm writing about a book I haven't finished yet. I think this is going to be the last of my Chicago books after that I'm going back to reading about my bank robbers and such. You'd think I'd be saturated by now, but it is a topic that rarely becomes dull.

I think this book is great because of the perspective that it provides on Capone and the effect of the St. Valentine's day massacre. For a criminal there is such a thing as too much publicity. This book explains the role that the massacre played in bringing down Capone. Public opinion is not a thing to be trifled with and let's face it if something could turn Chicago's lenient public against a gangster it had to be pretty bad. Bad enough to make a public that put gangster killings on the inside pages of the news believe there is a limit even if they are only killing one another.

I'm looking forward to getting to the parts about the 'American Boys' the imported hit men who carried out the massacre. They were alumni of the Egan Rat's gang in St. Louis. I've got to get that book about the Egan Rats. Missouri and Kansas criminals have not received the ink they deserve.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Chicago Outfit

I LOVE old photographs! So I love this book...Images of America The Chicago Outfit John Binder's photographic essay on organized crime in Chicago.

I enjoy the first couple of sections that deal with the old days and wish these sections comprised the whole book. It's no secret that my interest in criminals ends with the 40's. There are loads of pictures in here that I haven't seen someplace else and they are good quality. I literally drooled over the photo of inside of Colisimos and there's a very early photo of Jake Guzik where he almost looks normal!


Crime scene photos, vacation photos, mug shots this book pretty much covers Capone's group. Cool.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Karpis Interview


Well I enjoyed the interview I got to watch it for the first time last night. I mainly enjoyed just seeing an older Karpis. The interview set up was a joke: they had these actors dressed up as the 70's version of 30's gangsters. Silly. The interview itself wasn't substantial. There was so much that guy could have asked. Honestly, he asks Karpis about Doc Moran's death and doesn't probe further. What about the time Moran refused to treat John Hamilton? I guess that's the way the world works you can't have someone who is too into the criminal asking questions because I guess mainstream gets too upset. It's not about glorifying his acts it's just about information.
I wish I could get a hold of the FBI interviews with Karpis after his capture.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Cool Mail!

Just got this Karpis VHS tape in the mail! I am so looking forward to seeing this interview (if only I could kick my nephew out of front of my only TV set!) Alvin Karpis has a rep as one of the smarter thieves from the 30's. Unlike Dillinger, Nelson, and Floyd he was not gunned down by FBI agents. He's got a couple of books that are great reads too.

I got a letter from the FBI saying that the Luer files have been transferred to the archives so I am in search there. The National Archives actually have a great web site , but not much of the stuff that I am interested in is on there. Although it you would like to see prison profiles from the Federal Prison system you can probably find them. We'll see. The good part is that the files are stored close by so if I have to I can add them to the ever extending list of things I gotta do. So much to know so little time.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Gangsters & Gold Diggers

Well, this is more like history lite Gangsters & Gold Diggers affectionately browses through the underworld in NYC in the early 20th century. It touches on interesting characters like Arnold Rothstein and Owney Madden with little detail and much opinion. But it's fun. So that's a good thing. I read this and then ordered Rothstein the Life,Times and Murder of the Criminal Genius Who Fixed the 1919 World Series by David Pietrusza.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Cool Mail!


Ooh! Look what I got in the mail today! I'm excited but turning the cover it looks like I may already have this stuff, besides I was looking for a magnitude of pictures. Loads of text. I'm always hoping that when I get a new book there will be loads of photos I haven't seen. Photo's are the best because they bring everything to life (DUH!).

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Bugs Moran

Rose Keefe has done it again! I got this book (even though I had been waiting for the paperback version)because I enjoyed her work on Dion O'Banion. While the meat of this book covers much of the same territory as Guns and Roses there's more her on Bugs Moran than I've found anywhere else.

Most histories that I've read discount Moran as mainly a wannabe. Let's face it he was the last in line of the Northsider's to go head to head with Capone and pretty much gets dismissed after the Valentine's Day Massacre. Keefe's book is an eye opener. "Bugs" Moran's real identity is Adelard Cunin. He was born in St. Paul, MN to French Canadian parents. He wasn't even Irish! George Moran was one of the identities he adopted while evading Prison. There's copious detail in the book about O'Banion and the yegg gang that started the Northsiders out. Right thieves the lot of them! What's great about the book is that Keefe gives the full picture of Moran's career and she gives a decent enough portrayal of him as a man. After reading this book, I believe that it is short sighted to dismiss Moran. His criminal career was extensive and largely successful. (I'm not saying that crime pays: read the book to see why) But as criminal lives go he was a success for a longer period of time than many of his 20's counterparts. If you see a Rose Keefe book buy it! She is a great writer. She's got one coming out soon about Jack Zelig one of the 1900's gang bangers. Can't wait.

On a personal note the FBI has sent me notice that they are searching their files to determine what information remains of the August Luer kidnapping. Cool!