This book should slam harder than Babe Ruth, on a home run romp with cigar fixed firmly between the teeth. The authors, Bill and John Balsamo, are former “Longshoremen” and their great uncle, Batista Balsamo, was regarded by many as the first godfather of Booklyn, so it is safe to assume these two savvy seniors are more mobbed up than a Mulberry Street Trattoria.
Impressively, Bill Balsamo was a consultant on Brian De Palma’s 1987 mafia classic, The Untouchables—and just about every cable TV show involving the Mafia you would care to mention. So you would think that a two hundred fifty-page book on the early Capone years would be a snap right? Twenty-five years of research involved—trumpets the cover flap, rather grandly.
Trouble is, this little volume promises much and delivers little. Firstly, the Balsamo’s chose, rather unwisely, to pursue the dramatized route whilst constructing this novel, the result is a turgid and messy Polenta Pasticciata of almost inedible proportions, in which the free flowing rookie errors and clichés fly thicker and faster than bullets from a Thompson Annihilator, with a C drum magazine.
Yes, we get a number of interesting word of mouth anecdotes, including the full skinny on the legendary tale of how paralytic mobster Frank Galluccio opened up Capone’s face after the portly youngster cheeked Gallucio’s sister; we also get an authoritative account of how and why Capone was forced to leave New York, his childhood home, so that he could become mob boss of Chicago.
Trouble is, we also get a bazillion laundry lists of every New York mobster who ever drew breath—along with the inevitable, and often ludicrous, nick names. Worse, despite this being a dramatized account of Capone’s early life, there is little true drama and almost zero characterization; which is frustrating.
The Balsamo’s tell us that Capone’s early life was shrouded in mystery—they also promise “frank and shocking interviews with Capone’s last living relatives,” unfortunately these interviews never materialize and this book leaves the early life of Al Capone as shrouded in mystery as ever it was. Young Capone should be avoided by all but mob minded completists.