Gentleman’s Library: Historic Photos of Chicago Crime

If you thought ‘The Godfather’ was a captivating portrayal of the inner workings of the Mafia, wait till you get your hands on this large-format gangster book: ‘Historic Photos of Chicago Crime’ offers a riveting overview of the dramatic past of the ‘Windy City’.

Illustrated by hundreds of archival photographs, the staggering documentation takes the reader to the Roaring Twenties, when gangland men in black fedoras ruled the streets of the city. From Al Capone and Vito Corleone to John Gotti and Tony Soprano – real-life and fictional gangsters have captured people’s imaginations for decades. Ruthless and violent, these criminals are nonetheless often portrayed in an undeniably romantic light, as charismatic characters with their own codes of honour. However, ‘Historic Photos of Chicago’ paints a picture vastly different from the Hollywood-created Mafia myth, exposing the true depth of mobster brutality.


Gentleman’s Library: Historic Photos of Chicago Crime
Gentleman’s Library: Historic Photos of Chicago Crime Gentleman’s Library: Historic Photos of Chicago Crime

Meanwhile, this astonishing coffee table book features a cast of seriously criminal characters – Al Capone, John Torrio, Earl ‘Hymie’ Weiss, George ‘Bugs’ Moran and a host of other thugs are there. Included on the pages is everything from bloody corpses in the street to gun-toting hoodlums and getaway cars. Replete with insightful captions and fact-filled chapter introductions by historian John Russick, the stark black-and-white photographs provide a vivid glimpse into the strata of Chicago’s shady underworld and show the reader the real faces behind the stories.


While this eye-opening gangster chronicle might appear to be a somewhat macabre and frightening read, it's one that will provide a thrill for anyone who finds a bit of bloodstained American history entertaining. If you have an endless fascination with the Mafia world and your idea of a perfect evening is watching a ‘Sopranos’ marathon on TV... well, then you will definitely want to have this (rather morbid) book on your coffee table – it’s the real thing.

Photos: Turner Publishing Company, Courtesy of Chicago History Museum

Turner Publishing website: