Drawing upon decades of primary source research—including the personal papers of federal agent Eliot Ness and his associates, newly released government files, and long-forgotten crime magazines containing interviews with the gangsters—Collins and Schwartz recapture a bygone bullet-ridden era while uncovering previously unrevealed truths behind Scarface's downfall.
In Scarface and the Untouchable...Max Allan Collins and A. Brad Schwartz go into great detail to present the day-to-day realities that made this law-versus-lawless conflict so colorful, violent and headline-grabbing ... The scholarship displayed in Scarface and the Untouchable is extraordinary, probing deeply into the activities, interrelationships and mindsets of the many principal characters. Publicity-seeking Capone is especially well-drawn. The graft-ridden but vibrant city of Chicago achieves character status as well.
It is more than a bit dispiriting to start reading a book that begins with an introduction trashing previous attempts to tell the story it is about to present.
But that is precisely what Scarface and the Untouchable: Al Capone, Eliot Ness, and the Battle for Chicago does ... What I did not expect was to enjoy and admire this book as much as I did ... I took the book at face value and was rewarded with many things I had not known as well as with a narrative that reads with force and style ... All will appreciate the compelling way in which it is told ... [but] Their taking shots at other writers smacks of an insecurity that is both unnecessary and unseemly ... This is a very good book. But one with a very bad/sad introduction.
The authors’ intent is to take two men who have been mythologized over decades, strip away the fictions that have been piled on them, and leave us with a clearer sense of the true Ness and Capone. And they succeed admirably. Collins brings all his skills as a novelist to the story, painting in bold strokes a picture of Prohibition-era Chicago, a city almost entirely under the control of Capone’s criminal organization. His writing is about as far from a history text as you can imagine ... Careful research combined with vivid pulp style.