Al Capone’s Beer Wars: A Complete History of Organized Crime in Chicago during Prohibition
The story of Al Capone and his bloody reign of Chicago has been chronicled endlessly over the last eight decades, but crucial parts have been omitted. Gangland had a firm grip on the Windy City with the reigns of men such as Mike MacDonald and Big Jim Colosimo. But the law of Prohibition and the lawlessness that greeted the Eighteenth Amendment would cement the emergence of the Chicago Outfit and the rule of Johnny Torrio and later Al Capone. The role of the gangsters and their corruption of legal entities as well as their illegal ventures would be enabled by crooked politicians such as Big Bill Thompson. The battle for control of the lucrative beer and liquor trade would be long and bloody, with an assortment of ne’er do wells duking it out with the Capone mob.
John Binder has unveiled a crucial time in Prohibition and the violence that dominated the news in Chicago throughout the 1920s. Most previous tellings of Al Capone and his reign highlight the victories over O’Banion, Weiss, Moran, and the Northside gang yet fail to tell the wider battles engaged in by many of the ethnic gangs. The beer and liquor trade was lucrative for all parties willing to throw in, worth killing for in many instances. The telling of this infamous time is worth reading, no footnote to be looked over, as history such as this is never dull. A+.
John J. Binder