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March 23 , 2008

The Neighborhood Outfit

Organized Crime in Chicago Heights


From the slot machine trust of the early 1900s to the prolific Prohibition era bootleggers allied with Al Capone, and for decades beyond, organized crime in Chicago Heights, Illinois, represented a vital component of the Chicago Outfit. Louis Corsino taps interviews, archives, government documents, and his own family's history to tell the story of the Chicago Heights "boys" and their place in the city's Italian American community in the twentieth century. Debunking the popular idea of organized crime as a uniquely Italian enterprise, Corsino delves into the social and cultural forces that contributed to illicit activities. As he shows, discrimination blocked opportunities for Italians' social mobility and the close-knit Italian communities that arose in response to such limits produced a rich supply of social capital Italians used to pursue alternative routes to success that ranged from Italian grocery stores to union organizing to, on occasion, crime.

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