What goes into making the mob? Perhaps more importantly, what goes into the making of a mob boss? That is the question author Deirdre Bair tackles in Al Capone: His Life, Legacy, and Legend. Bair attempts to give readers a complete look at the man himself as well as his family and colleagues. In examining all of these different aspects of Al Capone, Baire re-imagines the infamous crime lord as something of a sympathetic human being.
The way Bair uses Capone’s wife, Mae, to bring out some of his personality is especially interesting. For the most part, Capone is viewed as a scoundrel, the cold blooded killer, and the guy arrested for tax evasion, but that’s about it. The view from the perspective of his wife, however, is undoubtedly different. She likely saw a different side to him than his business partners would have. But, as Bair points out, we will likely never get this full story due to her silence on the matter.
Through Bair’s depiction of the crime lord, we can see a unique picture of the man that ran the empire. When you strip back the grimy bits and rumors that we often think of, we can see someone we might run into on the street. The soft side of Capone, according to Bair, is like any other father or husband. It’s almost enough to make you think he wasn’t the most terrible human being on the planet.
The greater point of the book is perhaps that even the most heinous of human beings are capable of acting well, human. While Bair never directly says this, on some level she is trying to humanize him to us. As I said earlier, to most of us, Al Capone is a mythical figure, intangible to the existence of our everyday lives. Bair’s new image of Capone as a feeling, vulnerable human being enables us to look past those myths.
Bair’s work ultimately plays to what seems to be our natural draw toward villainy. Capone cannot merely be this scumbag that ran an empire, but a person with real emotions. It is natural to wonder what could have lead a seemingly normal person down the dark twisted path of crime, and Bair’s portrayal of Capone gives us the reason for it.
YouTube Channel: BIO
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons