The Rise and Fall of a Bad Generation
Publication Year: 2013
On January 16, 1920, the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution went into effect in the United States, “outlawing the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors.” A group of young criminals from immigrant backgrounds in cities around the nation stepped forward to disobey the law of the land in order to provide alcohol to thirsty Americans.
Today the names of these young men—Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Dutch Schultz, Legs Diamond, Nucky Johnson—are more familiar than ever, thanks in part to such cable programs as Boardwalk Empire. Here, Mappen strips way the many myths and legends from television and movies to describe the lives these gangsters lived and the battles they fought. Placing their criminal activities within the context of the issues facing the nation, from the Great Depression, government crackdowns, and politics to sexual morality, immigration, and ethnicity, he also recounts what befell this villainous group as the decades unwound.
Making use of FBI and other government files, trial transcripts, and the latest scholarship, the book provides a lively narrative of shootouts, car chases, courtroom clashes, wire tapping, and rub-outs in the roaring 1920s, the Depression of the 1930s, and beyond. Mappen asserts that Prohibition changed organized crime in America. Although their activities were mercenary and violent, and they often sought to kill one another, the Prohibition generation built partnerships, assigned territories, and negotiated treaties, however short lived. They were able to transform the loosely associated gangs of the pre-Prohibition era into sophisticated, complex syndicates. In doing so, they inspired an enduring icon—the gangster—in American popular culture and demonstrated the nation’s ideals of innovation and initiative.
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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The patient admitted to Saint Mary of Nazareth Hospital Center, Chicago, on May 14, 1992, was an eighty- six- year- old retired businessman, gray- haired, feeble, and dying from congestive heart failure and acute respi-ratory failure. There was little the doctors could do to save him, and his family sorrowfully agreed that he should be removed from life support. ...
Part I. The Rise
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...“You can get a lot further with a smile and a gun than you can with just a ...
Chapter 1. The Big Fellow in the Windy City
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...“Honey, you have a nice ass, and I mean that as a compliment.” The year was 1917, the place was the Harvard Inn, a bar and restaurant in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, and the speaker of these unwelcome com-ments was a young waiter, Alphonse Capone, who had been eyeing the girl that evening. Her name was Lena Gallucio, and she was sitting on her ...
Chapter 2. Big Battles in the Big Apple
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New York City in the 1920s is an iconic place and time in American mem-ory. With six million people, it was the largest city in the nation. Chorus girls danced at the Ziegfeld Follies, nightclub hostess Texas Guinan greeted tipsy partiers with a cheery “Hello, suckers,” Babe Ruth smacked out home runs at Yankee Stadium, Charles Lindbergh and Queen Marie of Romania ...
Chapter 3. Smaller Cities
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New York and Chicago were the biggest cities and the biggest crime centers in America during the Prohibition era, but the wave of crime extended to smaller cities as well. The underworld conducted business and adapted the roles of different ethnic groups in three urban centers: Detroit, where one tough Jewish mob gained dominance; Kansas City, where an Irish politi-...
Part II. Atlantic City Interlude
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...“Let’s give each other a break. We’re a bunch of saps killing each other this ...
Chapter 4. Gangsters in the Surf
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From Monday, May 13, to Thursday, May 16, in 1929, top gangsters in the Prohibition generation came to Atlantic City for a conference. Spring in the resort town was a perfect time for the gathering; the temperature was in the comfortable upper 50s, and the summer vacation season with its tens of thousands of visitors had not yet descended. There was still room on the ...
Chapter 5. The Conference as Comedy
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No matter how it has been interpreted the May 1929 Atlantic City Confer-ence was serious business. But it has spilled over into two comedic classics, one a short story by a noted American writer and the other a celebrated The unique writing style of Damon Runyon has lead to the adjective “runyonesque,” generally describing the kind of characters to which he ...
Chapter 6. Capone's Long Trip Home
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The good citizens of Philadelphia who sat down to read their morning news-papers over breakfast on Friday, May 17, 1929, were met with an astonishing and entirely unexpected front- page headline. Said the Inquirer newspaper:The story told in the Inquirer and other Philly papers described how Capone and his bodyguard Frankie Rio appeared in the city the previ-...
Part III. The Fall
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...“Please kill me, John— shoot me. I’m an old man and I’m through. Don’t take me in for junk. How else can I live? Let me run, John, and then you ...
Chapter 7. The Twilight of the Gangster
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The gangsters who attended the May 1929 conference in Atlantic City looked toward the future of their criminal enterprises. But they never anticipated a cataclysmic event that took place just five months later. In October 1929 the stock market crashed, killing the prosperity and high spirits that had characterized the Roaring Twenties. As historian William E. Leuchtenberg ...
Chapter 8. Pay your Taxes
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Manley Sullivan was thirty- nine years old in 1921, a hard- working resident of Charleston, South Carolina. He sometimes sold cars and tractors, but his basic line of work was selling bootleg liquor to his fellow Carolinians. His 1921 estimated income for that activity was ten thousand dollars, handsome annual earnings for that era. Under the Federal Revenue Act of 1921, anybody ...
Chapter 9. Lucky v Dewey.
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Early in the morning of October 17, 1929, Patrolman Blanke stationed in the Staten Island fishing village of Prince’s Bay saw a disheveled man stag-gering down the road. Officer Blanke could see that the man had been sav-agely beaten, his eyes were swollen and bruised, and he had slash wounds on his face. “Get me a taxi,” the man beseeched the policeman. “I’ll give ...
Chapter 10. Shot to Death
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Prosecuting the crime lords for income tax evasion was an effective way for lawmen to put gangsters out of commission. But mobsters’ more immedi-ate and cheaper strategy for eliminating their rivals— shooting them to death— did not require any expenses for courts, judges, accountants, and The list of prominent criminals who never made it out of the 1920s ...
Chapter 11. Lepke on the Hot Seat
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Louis Lepke Buchalter was the “intelligent Hebrew” who became the mas-ter of the labor racket in New York, primarily in the city’s garment indus-try (see chapter 3). By the 1930s he had branched out beyond the needle trades to bakeries and flour truckers. He was a leading crime figure; among the attendees at the bar mitzvah of his son were Lucky Luciano, Longie ...
Chapter 12. For Them, Crime did Pay
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Many members of the Prohibition generation passed from the scene pre-maturely: Al Capone, who died a syphilitic death; Longie Zwillman, a suicide in his basement; Lepke Buchalter, strapped into the electric chair; Albert Anastasia, shot to death in a barbershop; and the Lonardo and Por-rello families of Cleveland, locked in a murderous feud. But some survived ...
Cast of Characters
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...select list of prohibition era criminals who appear in this bookAccardo, Anthony “Joe Batters” (1906– 1992): Bodyguard of Al Capone who rose to Adonis, Joe (1902– 1971): Birth name, Guiseppe Doto; prominent New York Mafia Aiello, Joseph (1891?– 1930): Chicago crime figure who sought to kill Al Capone and become the head of the Unione Sicilione; Capone may have had him murdered....
A Note on Sources
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The first sentence in the first chapter in this book has waiter Al Capone say to Lena Gallucio, a female customer at a Brooklyn restaurant, “‘You got a nice ass, honey, and I mean it as a compliment. Believe me.’” This quote comes from William Bal-samo’s interview with Lena’s brother Frank, which appeared in an article in the March 1990 issue of Chicago magazine— a valid enough source to justify using it in ...
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The task of doing research has been vastly improved by digital age tools such as ProQuest, Google Archives, and WorldCat. But people still make the difference, and I want to thank the library and agency staff members who assisted me: at the Library of Congress, Kristi L. Finefield; National Archives, Richard W. Peu-ser, Gregory J. Plunges, Maryellen Trautman, Rodney Ross, and William H. Davis; ...
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About the Author
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Marc Mappen has a Ph.D. in American history. He has six books to his credit and has written articles for the New York Times and other publica-tions. He was formerly the executive director of the New Jersey Historical Commission and is now a lecturer in the History Department at Rutgers ...
Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013