Thursday, July 16th, 2015...10:00 am

Let’s take a bite out of crime!

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This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.


The collection has a large number of French translations of books that deal with crime and criminals in the United States.  Chicago : ville du crime or Rattling the cup on Chicago crime was written by Edward D. Sullivan, who was also a newspaper columnist.  Sullivan’s book explores his opinions about criminals and corruption in Chicago during the early 20th-century and the attitude of the American public towards criminals. He states that the modern criminal is careful and typically protected by a larger “organization.”

One chapter details the rise of Al Capone describing the bootlegging operations and the gradual pervasive corruption that infected the city.  The writing throughout is clearly skewed by Sullivan’s own experiences as a middle-class educated white man, but nonetheless it does show a specific point of view within the historical context.  The content is very sensationalist which makes sense since tabloid journalism was very popular around this time.

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Le gang et la débauche aux Etats-Unis : ennemis publics no. 1 is the French translation of the original title Here’s to Crime, which was cataloged by us back in the fall.  The author Courtney Cooper also had quite a flair for the dramatic both in his writing and his life experiences.  The title to his book is a direct response to the slogan “Crime Does Not Pay” which he considers to be “drivel.”  Before he was a newspaper reporter and author Cooper worked for a traveling circus as a clown and eventually became the general manager.  His connection to the circus continued throughout his lifetime and he was the chief publicist for Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus when he died.  Cooper was also quite an authority on crime and wrote several books and many articles dealing with corruption and drugs.  He was a supporter of the early days of the FBI and apparently J. Edgar Hoover was equally impressed with his knowledge of crime in America.  It is believed that he was a close friend of Hoover’s.

All of these volumes can be found in Widener’s collection:

Chicago : ville du crime / Edward Dean Sullivan ; Trad. de l’anglais par André Vialis. Paris : La Nouvelle société d’édition, [1931].

Le gang et la débauche aux Etats-Unis : ennemis publics no. 1 / Courtney Ryley Cooper ; adapté de l’anglais par Ch. de Richter. Paris : Editions de France, [1939].

Here’s to crime / Courtney Ryley Cooper. Boston : Little Brown and Company, 1938, [c1937].

Thanks to Alison Harris, Julio Mario Santo Domingo Project Manager, for contributing this post.

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