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Book Note: William J. Helmer, Al Capone and his American Boys

I read this book about 8/18/2013. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 2011. This note was last modified Friday, 23-Aug-2013 17:18:39 PDT.

This note does not contain major spoilers for the book.


This was built around a memoir by Georgette Winkeler (wife of Gus Winkeler), written after her husband and the rest of the American boys had been killed off, that was found in the FBI archives. I think I ended up with a copy because a friend copy-edited it and had a copy to dispose of.

Helmer has footnoted some historical issues, and surrounded it with some additional material including original police reports and such (which I found mostly not very interesting).

This is from the core gangster era in Chicago and the midwest (including tendrils over here to St. Paul), including Al Capone's rise and fall in Chicago. And it's from a viewpoint I have rarely encounterd—somebody not participating, but knowing at least somewhat the things her husband is doing. In fact, she struck me as a bit unconcerned with some of the things her husband got up to. And of course she had her own concerns, including a quite long marriage that she had to be able to justify to herself; she's not an objective reporter, she brings something very different to the table. And that's fascinating.


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David Dyer-Bennet