Prohibition Gangsters (Hardcover)
The Rise and Fall of a Bad Generation
Rutgers University Press, 9780813561158, 256pp.
Publication Date: June 6, 2013
Other Editions of This Title:
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.
View a three minute video of Marc Mappen speaking about Prohibition Gangsters.
About the Author
MARC MAPPEN, PhD, teaches at Rutgers University. He is the coeditor of the award-winning Encyclopedia of New Jersey and author of Jerseyana: The Underside of New Jersey History (both Rutgers University Press). He has written articles for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Rutgers Magazine, and other publications and has appeared on the History Channel and National Public Radio.
Praise For Prohibition Gangsters: The Rise and Fall of a Bad Generation…
— Sam Roberts
— Nicholas Gage
— James Kirby Martin
— Paul R. Kavieff
authoritative narrative takes readers through the Prohibition years and beyond as he traces the careers of such underworld luminaries as John Torrio, Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Legs Diamond, and Dutch Schultz. Mappen’s book is a splendid introduction to the story of a generation of criminals who captured the American imagination."
— Journal of American Culture
— Philadelphia Review of Books