Uncle Al Capone - The Untold Story from Inside His Family

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9780982845103: Uncle Al Capone - The Untold Story from Inside His Family

This is the revised edition, March 2015. The untold story from inside his family. Dramatic, unyielding, and provocative, Uncle Al Capone by Deirdre Marie Capone, Al Capone's grandniece, is a fascinating memoir and engaging biography. This moving, highly readable portrait of the Capone family and its mob trade examines what it has meant to survive the storied legacy of the family's forbearers. As Capone traces the arc of regret and what fuels the Capone myth, she finds redemption and a way to coexist with her legacy. In seventeen chapters with titles like "The Making of the Mafioso," "Trading the Chicago Outfit for the Chicago Cubs," and "The Saint Valentine's Day Truth," Capone outlines organized crime in Chicago and offers vignettes of American history during the early and mid-twentieth century. Using years of research and exhaustive interviews with her aunts, uncles, and cousins, she weaves an engaging anecdotal narrative of what it meant to be a Capone, what it meant to lose her father to suicide, and what it meant to have a mother who lived in constant fear. She offers compelling evidence that Al Capone was specifically targeted for prosecution by law enforcement agencies assisted by the media, which made gross exaggerations of her uncle's exploits and fueled a phenomenon of half-truths and utter falsehoods. From the family's roots in Angri, Italy to the author's ongoing investigations today, this debut offers a comprehensive and moving portrait of an iconic American family and one woman's efforts to make peace with the past.

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Review:

Gangster Al Capone once commented that “This American system of ours...gives each and every one of us a great opportunity if we only seize it with both hands and make the most of it.” Despite the fact that it’s coming from a known gangster, it says a great deal about the mind of the man. He sees himself as an average, successful American businessman, even if his comment understates the whole picture. It’s this human quality that Deirdre Marie Capone evokes in Uncle Al Capone, a fascinating book that’s one part biography, one part memoir, and one part remembrance of Public Enemy Number One. As the grand-niece of Al, Capone recounts how she hid her family name for years. When a school research project leads her to come clean to her kids, she begins recalling the rich family history she once knew. It’s a tale that starts after the family emigrates from Angri, Italy to Brooklyn, New York. Capone shows that Al and her grandfather, Ralph, weren’t always members of a crime syndicate. In fact, their childhood is fairly normal, with Al finishing high school, and Ralph working odd jobs to help support the family. Everything changes when their father dies and Prohibition becomes law. Forced to earn a living for his family, Al, and eventually Ralph, head to Chicago and down the path to criminal celebrity. Throughout the book, Capone tries to reconcile what she knows about her family with recorded history. Early in the book she writes, “I will not pretend to be able to paint a rosy picture of my uncle Al. I cannot make him out to be a perfect man, or even a good man. But what I want people to know is that he was a complex man. He was human and he had a heart.” Capone succeeds, balancing both the public history of Al, from the Valentine’s Day Massacre to his incarceration at Alcatraz, with personal photos, family recipes, and her own memories. The author recalls how loving certain members of the Capone family were, particularly her great-aunt Maffie who helps the author to see good in the men. It’s not always an easy task as the author recounts losing friends, jobs, and other opportunities, once people learned she was a descendant of the notorious Al Capone. Overall, Uncle Al Capone is a memoir that is as complex and human as the man that it’s about. It brings a fresh perspective to the other Al Capone biographies, and finally gives the larger-than-life gangster the one thing that may have eluded him in life: to be seen as simply a human being. Katerie Prior

From the Author:

In "Uncle Al Capone", I will take you where few people were ever allowed to go: past the bodyguards and inside the Capone home at 7244 S. Prairie Avenue, Chicago, the house built for Uncle Al to recover from prison in Wisconsin, and the home where he died in Miami, Fl. I'll introduce you to my family in a way so that you will understand them, and hopefully understand how difficult it was for me to grow up with the name Capone. I did nothing wrong but I bore the 'sins of my fathers'.

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