21 Aug 2014 No Comments
The true story of Eliot Ness, the legendary lawman who led the Untouchables, took on Al Capone, and saved a city’s soul.
Eliot Ness is famous for leading the Untouchables against the notorious mobster Al Capone. But it turns out that the legendary Prohibition Bureau squad’s daring raids were only the beginning. Ness’s true legacy reaches far beyond Big Al and Chicago.
Eliot Ness follows the lawman through his days in Chicago and into his forgotten second act. As the public safety director of Cleveland, he achieved his greatest success: purging the city of corruption so deep that the mob and the police were often one and the same. And it was here, too, that he faced one of his greatest challenges: a brutal, serial killer known as the Torso Murderer, who terrorized the city for years.
Eliot Ness presents the first complete picture of the real Eliot Ness. Both fearless and shockingly shy, he inspired courage and loyalty in men twice his age, forged law-enforcement innovations that are still with us today, and earned acclaim and scandal from both his professional and personal lives. Through it all, he believed unwaveringly in the integrity of law and the basic goodness of his fellow Americans.
Published: February 2014
You never knew what you were going to find on the side of the road in Chicago Heights, but a dead body was never a bad guess.
Eliot Ness is a fascinating man, best known for his role in leading The Untouchables while chasing Al Capone. Here, Douglas Perry introduces us to the real man behind all the hype. If you’ve read The Untouchables or seen the movie, you might be surprised to learn how much of Ness’s memoir was overblown hype. In fact, Eliot Ness never approved the final manuscript, which he had not actually written, because he died before the book was finished.
Legend has it that Eliot personally selected the men who would become known collectively as the Untouchables.
I was impressed with the breadth of content here. Aside from the Capone years, we learn about Ness’s career as Safety Director in Cleveland, his obsession with corruption, his battle maintaining his reputation, and his transition into business that seemed to be his final downfall. Despite all the good Ness did, he died broke and in relative obscurity.
The pack of reporters followed Eliot up to his office in the Alcohol Tax Unit’s suite and continued to fire questions at him as he cleaned out his desk. “I am going to be a working safety director,” he said. “I will do undercover work to obtain my own evidence and acquaint myself personally with conditions.”
Perry shows us the human side of the legend, which I find far more interesting than the glamorous view designed to sell books and movies. We’re also given a look at what the world was like during this tumultuous period in history, when mafia men were openly running some cities.
The Mayfield Road Mob, also known as the Hill gang, was Ohio’s leading crime outfit. They did business however they pleased, without fear of police interference.
The writing itself lacks a bit of personality, coming off a little dry with its ‘just the facts’ format. But the writing is also clear and precise, and the timeline easy to follow. Definitely a book I’d recommend to anyone interested in Eliot Ness and/or this period of history.
Thanks for reading.