By David Ward, Gene Kassebaum
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Extra info for Alcatraz: The Gangster Years
Rachel Lockman attended to details regarding the photos that illustrate events and personalities. Kate Warne supervised the production process with sensitivity to the authors’ concerns and assigned an outstanding copy editor to this project, Edith Gladstone, who identified endnotes that needed more detail, clarified confusing words and phrases, and provided valuable feedback about the narrative from a reader who was not in the criminology business and had no familiarity with Alcatraz or the federal prison system.
One-half of all the Alcatraz inmates—and nearly two-thirds of those who served time during the “gangster era,” 1934–1948—could be considered successes in that they never came back to a state or federal prison. At this point in the research we had put together a remarkably complete set of records for the most hidden and notorious prison in America, giving us access to a massive collection of memos, letters, official reports, and records that no one outside the federal agencies from which they came even knew existed.
A removal to Alcatraz is thus considered in the underworld as a kind of general’s baton, the reward of distinguished field service that cannot be overlooked. And the guides on the steamers that ply through the riptides close to the island never fail to call off the roster of the incurable desperadoes who have battled the state prisons and landed here: “Limpy” Cleaver, Machine-Gun Kelly, Gene Colson, and Al Capone. S. history have been without infamous criminals—those murderers, assassins, traitors, robbers, or outlaws whose unlawful acts, real or alleged, have inspired some combination of fear and outrage among Americans.