THE REAL STORY
PAUL W. HEIMEL
REVIEWED BY L.J. WARREN
Eliot Ness. The name means many things to many people. To some of us he is the man who cleaned-up Chicago. The man who sent Al Capone to federal prison. Kevin Costner in a hit movie. Robert Stack in tow television movies. And, to a few of us who were wide eyed children in the late 1950s sitting in front of a black and white television, he was Robert Stack as THE UNTOUCHABLE. The man who sprayed enough lead into the Chicago landscape that it should have sunk into Lake Michigan.
As some of us have grown over the years and our reading interests have turned to crime in the 1920s and 1930s, we have learned Eliot Ness was not bigger than life. Those of us in law enforcement have realized that, even in the 1930s, the Police could not have launched that many missiles without some outcry from the citizens. I'm not saying I did not enjoy the movies, but I do tend to compare them to what I feel is the truth.
Now, there is what I consider to be a definitive work on Mr. Ness. About six weeks ago my good friend Sutton Coffman mailed me two envelops. They contained the two news articles about Mr. Ness which appear in this issue of the Thompson Collectors Newsletter. In them a new book is mentioned. It is ELIOT NESS: THE REAL STORY by Paul W. Heimel. After reading the articles, I immediately ordered a copy through our Waldenbooks. It came in about two weeks. When I went to pick it up a young man, about twenty, waited on me. He looked at the cover and said "Eliot Ness, he was a gangster, wasn't he?" I said, "He's the federal agent who ran Al Capone out of Chicago." Practice what I preach? No, I sat too long in front of that black and white television.
I read the book quickly finding it informative. Mr. Heimel details Mr. Ness's life from birth to death reporting it in what I feel is a factual manner. He does not paint an inflated picture of Mr. Ness, nor does he omit the mistakes made. I would say Mr. Ness was an honest lawman with high principles. After Chicago he went on to be the Public Safety Director in Cleveland, Ohio and did clean up Cleveland. His actions made him many enemies. One night he left the scene of a traffic accident in which he was involved after having had some alcoholic beverages. This was the beginning of the end for him in Cleveland. There followed ventures into the corporate world which did not satisfy him. Efforts to return to enforcing the law were in vain because of the Cleveland mistake.
If you have any interest in Mr. Ness, the 1920s and 1930s crime scene, or just a good biography about a real lawman, Mr. Heimel's book should be on your must read list. As some of you know I have a 1921AC from the Cleveland, Ohio Police Department. I intend to do some additional legwork on that gun and some of the information developed as a result of the newspaper articles, this book, and some of the names mentioned. I'll try to report to all of you soon on that research.
I also want to mention one other thing. Those of you who are yet to attend an Annual Thompson Show and Shoot are missing out on some wonderful fellowship, some one of a kind Thompsons and their accouterments, and a good time. Those of you (the list gets smaller) who have not taken the time to put your experiences and those of the other attendees at the Show may not appreciate what it takes. This is a long way of saying - BILL MENOSKY, YOU DID A GREAT JOB! I appreciate it.
Everyone take care and I hope to see all of you soon.