Cover image for Scarface and the untouchable : Al Capone, Eliot Ness, and the battle for Chicago / Max Allan Collins & A. Brad Schwartz.
Scarface and the untouchable : Al Capone, Eliot Ness, and the battle for Chicago / Max Allan Collins & A. Brad Schwartz.

First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2018]

Physical Description:
xix, 699 pages : illustrations, map ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes bibliographical references (pages 565-674) and index.
Introduction: Untouchable truth -- Map: Organized crime in 1920s Chicago -- Rogues' gallery -- Prologue: St. Valentine's Day -- Prairie Avenue boys -- Citizen Capone -- On the spot -- Epilogue: The great American city.
A riveting, myth-shattering dual portrait of Al Capone, America's most notorious gangster, and Eliot Ness, the legendary Prohibition agent whose extraordinary investigative work crippled his organization. Written with novelistic pacing and underpinned by groundbreaking research, Collins and Schwartz deliver the definitive account of the iconic struggle between the mythic yet real combatants who have captivated the world for 90 years. -- adapted from publisher info


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
364.1092 CAP COL Book Adult General Collection

On Order



At last, the definitive history of Al Capone, Eliot Ness's Untouchables, and gangster-era Chicago - a landmark magnum opus on America's great crime epic that reads like a novel


In 1929, thirty-year-old gangster Al Capone ruled both Chicago's underworld and its corrupt government. To a public who scorned Prohibition, "Scarface" became a local hero and national celebrity. But after the brutal St. Valentine's Day Massacre transformed Capone into "Public Enemy Number One," the federal government found an unlikely new hero in a twenty-seven-year-old Prohibition agent named Eliot Ness. Chosen to head the legendary law enforcement team known as "The Untouchables," Ness set his sights on crippling Capone's criminal empire.

Today, no underworld figure is more iconic than Al Capone and no lawman as renowned as Eliot Ness. Yet in 2016 the Chicago Tribune wrote, "Al Capone still awaits the biographer who can fully untangle, and balance, the complexities of his life," while revisionist historians have continued to misrepresent Ness and his remarkable career.

Enter Max Allan Collins and A. Brad Schwartz, a unique and vibrant writing team combining the narrative skill of a master novelist with the scholarly rigor of a trained historian. Collins is the New York Times bestselling author of the gangster classic Road to Perdition. Schwartz is a rising-star historian whose work anticipated the fake-news phenomenon.

Scarface and the Untouchable draws upon decades of primary source research--including the personal papers of Ness and his associates, newly released federal files, and long-forgotten crime magazines containing interviews with the gangsters and G-men themselves. Collins and Schwartz have recaptured a bygone bullet-ridden era while uncovering the previously unrevealed truth behind Scarface's downfall. Together they have crafted the definitive work on Capone, Ness, and the battle for Chicago.

Author Notes

Max Allen Collins was born in 1948 in Muscatine, Iowa. He is a two-time winner of the Private Eye Writer's of America's Shamus Award for his Nathaniel Heller historical thrillers "True Detective" and "Stolen Away". Collins also wrote the Dick Tracy comic strip begining in 1977 and ending in the early 1990s. He has contributed to a number of other comics, including Batman. Collins created his first independent feature film, Mommy, following a nightmarish experience as screenwriter on the cable movie The Expert.

Collins has been contracted by DC Comics to write three tie-ins to his critically acclaimed graphic novel "The Road to Perdition", which was adapted into the feature film. Author of other such move tie-in bestsellers as "In the Line of Fire" and "Air Force One", he is also the screenwriter/director of the cult favorite suspense films "Mommie" and "Mommie's Day".

(Publisher Provided) Max Allen Collins was born in Muscatine, Iowa on March 3, 1948.

His graphic novel Road to Perdition, published in 1998, is the basis of the Academy Award-winning 2002 film starring Tom Hanks, Paul Newman and Daniel Craig. His other works include Road to Purgatory, Road to Paradise, Return to Perdition, Bye Bye, Baby, and Target Lancer. He won the Shamus awards for True Detective in 1983 and Stolen Away in 1991. He is completing a number of Mike Hammer novels begun by the late Mickey Spillane. He has collaborated with his wife Barbara Collins on three novels and numerous short stories. Their Antiques Flee Market won the Romantic Times Best Humorous Mystery Novel award in 2009.

His comics credits include the syndicated strip Dick Tracy (1977-1993), Ms. Tree, Batman; and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, based on the hit TV series for which he has also written ten novels. He has written tie-in books for several movies including Saving Private Ryan, Air Force One, and American Gangster, which won the Best Novel Scribe Award in 2008 from the International Association of Tie-in Writers.

His non-fiction works include The History of Mystery and Men's Adventure Magazines, which won Anthony Award. He is also an independent filmmaker. He has written and directed five features and two documentaries, including the Lifetime movie Mommy and the sequel, Mommy's Day.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Mystery writer Collins (The Bloody Spur) and historian Schwartz (Broadcast Hysteria) dutifully trace the lives of Al Capone (1899-1947) and his lawman nemesis, Eliot Ness (1903-1957), in Prohibition-era Chicago. Drawing on a trove of sources, including Ness's scrapbooks, the authors look at the parallel arcs of these men in the 1920s and 1930s as Capone gained notoriety and status as Chicago's greatest public enemy while Ness climbed the ranks of law enforcement to head a squad devoted to bringing Capone to justice. The general contours of this real-life drama are familiar, including the irony that Capone was eventually convicted of tax evasion, rather than the hundreds of murders he orchestrated; the authors add depth to their depiction of both men with colorful details such as the fact that, prior to becoming adversaries, Capone and Ness both lived on South Prairie Street for a period in 1923. Collins and Schwartz present a balanced view of the role of Ness in capturing Capone, which accounts such as Jonathan Eig's Get Capone (2010) and Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's documentary Prohibition (2011) have largely dismissed. The result is an informed and valuable addition to the numerous books about Capone and Ness. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Untouchable Truthp. xi
Map: Organized Crime in 1920s Chicagop. xxi
Rogues' Galleryp. xxiii
Prologue: St. Valentine's Dayp. 1
Part 1 Prairie Avenue Boys
1 1895-11920p. 13
2 1850-1923p. 29
3 1920-1925p. 45
4 1925-1926p. 61
5 1925-1926p. 73
6 1926-1927p. 89
7 1927p. 107
8 Spring-Summer 1928p. 121
9 Winter 1927-Summer 1928p. 137
10 August 1928-January-1929p. 155
Part 2 Citizen Capone
11 January-March 1929p. 175
12 February-October 1929p. 193
13 May-October 1929p. 209
14 December 1929-March 1930p. 227
15 December 1929-April 1930p. 243
16 March-June 1930p. 259
17 June-August 1930p. 271
18 June-October 1930p. 289
19 November-December 1930p. 303
Part 3 On The Spot
20 December 1930-February 1931p. 317
21 December 1930-February 1931p. 333
22 February-May 1931p. 349
23 Spring-Summer 1931p. 367
24 June-July 1931p. 385
25 Summer 1931p. 405
26 October 1931p. 423
27 October 1931p. 441
28 Octobr 1931-January 1932p. 463
29 February-May 1932p. 483
30 1932-1934p. 503
Epilogue: The Great American Cityp. 529
Acknowledgements: A Tip of the Fedorap. 551
Note on Sourcesp. 557
Abbreviatonsp. 559
Source Notesp. 565
Bibliographyp. 661
Rogues' Gallery Creditsp. 675
Indexp. 677