The Battle for Chicago: Separating Fact from Fiction in the Stories of Al Capone and Eliot Ness

The Battle for Chicago: Separating Fact from Fiction in the Stories of Al Capone and Eliot Ness

Date: February 14, 2019
Time: 7 p.m. in the Historic Courtroom
Cost: Included with Museum admission on February 14. Seating is on a first come, first serve basis.

Over the decades, the stories of mobster Al Capone and lawmen Eliot Ness have been subjected to literary license and Hollywood exaggeration. “Scarface and the Untouchable,” a new book from authors Max Allan Collins and A. Brad Schwartz, peels back the layers of these myths to reveal a deeper narrative of these iconic figures.

All special events included with Museum admission on February 14. Seating is on a first come, first serve basis. Courtroom seating maximum occupancy—120 guests. 

If you’re a Museum Member, please click the “Member Tickets” button to reserve your spot. 

Featured Speakers

Max Allan Collins  

Max Allan Collins


Max Allan Collins was named a Grand Master in 2017 by the Mystery Writers of America. He has earned an unprecedented twenty-three Private Eye Writers of America “Shamus” nominations, winning for his Nathan Heller novels, True Detective (1983) and Stolen Away (1991), and his short story “So Long, Chief” (with Mickey Spillane). He received the PWA “Eye” for Life Achievement (2006). In 2012, his Nathan Heller saga was honored with the PWA “Hammer” award for making a major contribution to the private eye genre.

His graphic novel Road to Perdition (1998) is the basis of the Academy Award-winning Tom Hanks film, followed by two acclaimed prose sequels and several graphic novels. His other comics credits include the syndicated strip “Dick Tracy”; his own “Ms. Tree”; “Wild Dog”; and “Batman.”

His innovative Quarry novels was recently adapted as a critically acclaimed TV series by Cinemax. He has created a number of other suspense series, including Mallory, Eliot Ness, Jack & Maggie Starr, Reeder and Rogers, and the “Disaster” novels. He is completing a number of “Mike Hammer” novels begun by the late Mickey Spillane; his audio novel, Mike Hammer: The Little Death with Stacy Keach, won a 2011 Audie for best original work.

For five years, he was the sole licensing writer for the popular TV series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (and its spin-offs), writing ten best-selling novels, four graphic novels, and four award-winning video games. His tie-in books have appeared on the USA TODAY bestseller list nine times and the New York Times three, including Saving Private Ryan, Air Force One, and American Gangster.

As an independent filmmaker in the Midwest, Collins has written and directed four features, including the Lifetime movie “Mommy” (1996); and he scripted “The Expert,” a 1995 HBO World Premiere, as well as the film-festival favorite, “The Last Lullaby” (2009), based on his novel, The Last Quarry. His documentary “Caveman: V.T. Hamlin & Alley Oop” (2008) has appeared on PBS and on DVD, and his documentary “Mike Hammer’s Mickey Spillane” (1998/2011) appears on the Criterion Collection DVD and Blu-ray of “Kiss Me Deadly.”

His play “Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life,” was nominated for an Edgar Award in 2004 by the Mystery Writers of America; a film version, written and directed by Collins, was released on DVD and appeared on PBS stations in 2009. With A. Brad Schwartz, he has written a major non-fiction book on the subject, Scarface and the Untouchable: Al Capone, Eliot Ness and the Battle for Chicago (2018).

Collins lives in Iowa with his wife, writer Barbara Collins; as “Barbara Allan,” they have collaborated on fourteen novels, including the successful “Trash ‘n’ Treasures” mysteries, Antiques Flee Market (2008) winning the Romantic Times Best Humorous Mystery Novel award of 2009. Their son Nathan has translated eight novels into English from Japanese, as well as video games and manga.

A. Brad Schwartz  

A. Brad Schwartz


A. Brad Schwartz is the co-author of SCARFACE AND THE UNTOUCHABLE: Al Capone, Eliot Ness, and the Battle for Chicago (William Morrow, 2018) with Road to Perdition creator Max Allan Collins. Currently a doctoral student in American history at Princeton University, Brad has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, Vanity Fair, Smithsonian, and The Daily Beast.
Brad’s first book, BROADCAST HYSTERIA: Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds and the Art of Fake News (Hill and Wang, 2015), draws upon a trove of long-lost listener letters to reexamine the infamous 1938 “panic broadcast.” The book is based on the groundbreaking research Brad conducted as part of his senior honors thesis at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he earned his B.A. in History and Screen Arts & Cultures in 2012. He also co-wrote a 2013 episode of the PBS series American Experience about the War of the Worlds broadcast, based in part on his thesis research.

As part of the University of Michigan’s selective screenwriting program, Brad wrote OPEN HOUSE, a murder-mystery/comedy short film that premiered at the Traverse City Film Festival in 2013. It has since screened as an official selection of NewFilmmakers Los Angeles and the 2014 Maryland International Film Festival. In 2014, Brad’s screenplay THE WOLF was voted onto “The Hit List,” a catalog of Hollywood’s favorite unproduced spec scripts.
While at the University of Michigan, Brad earned several awards for writing and scholarship, including the 2013 Kasdan Scholarship in Creative Writing, the 2013 Robert Hayden Humanities Award, the 2012 Arthur Fondiler History Award for Best Thesis (Highest Honors), the 2012 MLibrary Undergraduate Research Award, and the 2010 Dennis McIntyre Prize for Distinction in Undergraduate Playwriting. He divides his time between East Lansing, Michigan, and Princeton, New Jersey.