Most helpful positive review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Strength in depth
on 26 May 2012
I like it. For sure, some sections are rather 'dense' and a bit hard to follow, but were the author to slow things down, the book couldn't cover as much ground. It's also the case that particularly interesting episodes and characters do from time to time get a less staccato coverage.
The style is dry but not in the sense of being without wit, and the book is well edited. Many of the events and situations are enlivened by a faintly sardonic tone. Criminals 'quite properly' refuse to testify before the grand jury... and when someone gets taken to an 'escape proof' gaol, you can almost guess that the next line will be 'he escaped the next day'...
Content wise, I found the depiction of criminal life during the 1920s and 30s in the USA quite surprising in terms of the sheer scale of violence and corruption. I was also surprised (though less so the more I read) by how reckless a lot of these criminals were in terms of ripping each other off - "Such and such decided not to give [insert insanely violent and ruthless criminal's name here] their share of the money..." They did WHAT?
A book that's lively but not lazy or 'pulpy', and broad enough in scope and scale to provide excellent value for money.