Organized Crime in Chicago
About the BookThis book provides a comprehensive sociological explanation for the emergence and continuation of organized crime in Chicago. Tracing the roots of political corruption that afforded protection to gambling, prostitution, and other vice activity in Chicago and other large American cities, Robert M. Lombardo challenges the dominant belief that organized crime in America descended directly from the Sicilian Mafia. According to this widespread "alien conspiracy" theory, organized crime evolved in a linear fashion beginning with the Mafia in Sicily, emerging in the form of the Black Hand in America's immigrant colonies, and culminating in the development of the Cosa Nostra in America's urban centers.
Looking beyond this Mafia paradigm, this volume argues that the development of organized crime in Chicago and other large American cities was rooted in the social structure of American society. Specifically, Lombardo ties organized crime to the emergence of machine politics in America's urban centers. From nineteenth-century vice syndicates to the modern-day Outfit, Chicago's criminal underworld could not have existed without the blessing of those who controlled municipal, county, and state government. These practices were not imported from Sicily, Lombardo contends, but were bred in the socially disorganized slums of America where elected officials routinely franchised vice and crime in exchange for money and votes. This book also traces the history of the African American community's participation in traditional organized crime in Chicago and offers new perspectives on the organizational structure of the Chicago Outfit, the traditional organized crime group in Chicago.
Reviews"Lombardo recounts more than 100 years of the rise and decline of various criminal organizations, including the Syndicates, the Forty-Two Gang, and the Outfit, in this history explaining the role of organized crime in Chicago. Because Chicago crime is depicted in many popular books and movies, this history will find eager readers everywhere."--Booklist
"Lombardo argues persuasively that organized crime is not a foreign deviance implanted by will but rather a condition made possible by circumstances of the place. Recommended."--Choice
"Robert M. Lombardo's book deflates the theory that organized crime in the United States was imported from Italy, and he provides ample evidence to prove that organized crime in the city evolved from social structure, frontier immorality, and political corruption. Organized Crime in Chicago should be on the reading lists for true crime enthusiasts and students of Chicago history and criminal history."--American Historical Review
"Organized Crime in Chicago offers readers a revealing glimpse into the larger-than-life personalities that inhabited the netherworld of crime, such as members of 'The 42,' a boys' gang organized in the 1930s by seventh graders."--The Historian
"An authoritative and colorful history that covers the whole sweep of organized crime in Chicago and puts politics, gangs, and ethnicity into clear perspective."--Dominic Candeloro, coeditor of Reconstructing Italians in Chicago: Thirty Authors in Search of Roots and Branches