Robert LombardoOrganized Crime in Chicago: Beyond the Mafia

University of Illinois Press, 2012

by Mark Lauchs on September 8, 2014

Robert Lombardo

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Chicago would be one of the first places that people think of when the topic of organized crime is raised. Al Capone made the city famous during prohibition. I have done the Gangster bus tour in Chicago which focuses entirely on that period in history. In Organized Crime in Chicago: Beyond the Mafia (University of Illinois Press, 2012), however, Robert Lombardo addresses this myth and many others in his history of organized crime in Chicago. Lombardo’s book is a discussion of a society of crime – the interrelation of public demand and political operators with the organized crime in their community. He shows that organized crime grew with the boom in the city’s growth during the Civil War and survived through till the major anti-organized crime activity by the Federal government in the 1980s. Similarly, this was not an Italian phenomena. Each wave of migration brought their own gangsters, whether it was the Irish from Europe or the African Americans from the south. Even so the exclusive ethnic mafia did not really arrive till the establishment of the Outfit after the end of prohibition. Lombardo combines excellent history with criminological theory. I recommend this book for anyone running an introductory class in organized crime as it presents a microcosm of crime in a vibrant community, with an explanation of the theoretical and practical aspects that supported its success and fall.

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