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Fred Pasley's Al Capone book
Fred D. Pasley
Newspaper reporter Fred Pasley became an author writing several books during his long career. One of his most famous/ infamous was the biography on Al Capone. So what's so special about a bio on Capone when so many have been written on the big fella? Well, Pasley's book was written at a time when Al Capone was still mob boss of Chicago! The other fact was the book came out with Al Capone's consent. No reprisals were taken against Pasley! In fact, Pasley's wife Virginia, who also was a newspaper reporter had interviewed Capone.
Capone had no objections to stuff that was printed about him. He also had no problem with stuff that was alluded to him that he disagreed to. His simple strategy was 'DENY, DENY, DENY!'
The only thing that was off limits was slandering his family, especially his wife and son.
Also, most of what Pasley wrote about in Capone's bio was information that had already been previously printed in the newspapers, info such as murders and gang wars. Some of the information is speculation and misinformation all supplied by other reporters, or people in the know at the time. Of course, there are no sources or bibliography mentioned in Pasley's work.
Millions of people at that time were interested in learning about the fascinating character that was Al Capone, so readers and fans bought it all up!! Remember that this was a period in time of no tv or internet, so high sales for a book on a gangster back then was quite impressive! Yes, there was backlash, but this did not hinder it's sales at all. Just like prohibition, It made people want to get one even more! England was against it, but eventually and after a while, the book showed up in subsequent reprints there under a new publisher named Faber and Faber.
Anyone who didn't hear about Capone at the time of his trial must have been living under a rock. Almost a full year before the Capone trial, newspaper reporter Fred D. Pasley has his Al Capone biography published by Ives Washburn. Surprisingly candid, even Capone seems to relish the fact that a book on his life has been published. Capone cringes on some of the facts found in this book. Some make him out to be the criminal that he wants the public not to know.
August 27,1930. Newspapers announcing a new Capone Biography on the horizon.
Sold out after one week a second and other subsequent printings quickly followed.
Fred D.Pasley, Al Capone's biographer was a veteran Chicago newspaper man, he had all the ins and outs of gangland through police and informants. Pasley was not worried of any reprisals as the uproar on the killing of Chicago Tribune reporter Jake Lingle was still fresh on the public's mind and after all, Capone was not that stupid. Most of the info in his book was in Chicago newspapers on a daily basis through the 1920's. The public at it all up! The book was a hit in the U.S. and in England with multiple printings the first couple of months. It was first banned in England, but they eventually relented and it became a hit. Pasley's aim of paying off his mortgage and living comfortably had paid off. By 1940, Pasley was living in New Yorks upper Eastside with a servant. Not bad for a wrapper boy born in Kansas. He will write other books and report for many other newspapers for many years before passing on May 7, 1951.
The popularity of the book probably incensed the government and Chicago's civic leaders into harder action in bringing Capone down.
After all, It was showing America's youth that even a low level thug could become rich and famous.
Capone's biography is first banned in England after 4 months of being published.
(Chicago Tribune February 11,1931).
The First Edition
(The original printing)
The first edition was printed in September of 1930. It hit the stores on September 15, 1930. The first U.S. publisher was Ives Washburn.
A first edition contained the following markings;
Dust jacket and cover.
First edition has an orange cloth book binding with bright blue lettering.
This is what the first edition looks on the inside page.
It should read 1930 just above the publisher, which should be Ives Washburn. The first edition contains no photos when compared to later editions and reprints.
This should be on the opposite page of the before mentioned Ives Washburn publisher.
This means it's a first printing and a first edition which is the one most sought after.
If this is what's shown instead of the photo above, then it means it's already at the fifth printing.
This is not considered a first edition.
Pasley's Capone bio came out in several different editions. The book was published by Ives Washburn right up until February 1931.
The original publisher had reached it's 12th printing by this time. Deals were now made to distribute this work worldwide and to appear in in newspapers as a series of articles. The entity chosen to replace Ives Wasburn after this 1931 time period was Star Books by Garden City publishers. What is really misleading is that Star Books also placed a copyright with the date of 1930 in it's pages of their book. Most people see this and think it's a first edition, which it's not. This is merely done to let people know when this work was originally published for the first time.
Later edition dust cover and reddish book cover with black lettering.
This book was published in summer of 1931, so it's not a first edition.
Unlike the first edition, this later edition will have no first print date above publisher's name.
Also note that this later edition contains a photo of Capone on the opposite page (partly visible) not included in the original first edition.
Later publications of the Pasley Capone book
These were reprinted in various years, countries and languages.
Faber and Faber U.K. 1931
Lars Hokerbergs Sweden 1931
Faber and Faber (U.K.) 1966
Ayers (U.S.) 1971
Fred D. Pasley
His bio is quite an interesting one. The veteran writer had done it all.
Born in Baldwin Kansas, he was a sports writer, an aviation pioneer. He went to Chicago to become a crime reporter. (Herald Examiner and Chicago Tribune). It's there he took interest in gangster Al Capone, and wrote his biography. He was supervisor for several of the Hearst papers comics syndications. While in Chicago, he also took over the editorial page column called "A Line O'Type or Two."
Mr. Pasley was also retained as a technical consultant for the 1932 Warner bros. film based on Al Capone's life called "Scarface".
At the time of his death, he was the co-chief of the United Nations bureau of the New York Daily News.
Fred Pasley passed away on May 7, 1951. He was 62.