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How Much Does Crime Pay?

Authors Jonathan Eig and Robert Elder discuss their latest books

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May 13, 2010 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Jonathan Eig is the author of "Get Capone: The Secret Plot that Captured America's Most Wanted Gangster." Robert Elder is author of "Last Words of the Executed." The two writers will join forces and talk about their books Thursday, May 20, in a program titled "Crime and Punishment" at Northwestern University.

Part of the Medill School of Journalism's popular Crain Lecture Series, "Crime and Punishment" will take place at 4 p.m. in the McCormick Tribune Center Forum. Free and open to the public, it will be followed by a book sale and signing.

A graduate of Medill, Eig drew on thousands of pages of recently discovered government documents, wiretap transcripts and Al Capone's personal letters to tell the dramatic story of the rise and fall of America's most notorious criminal in "Get Capone." The widely acclaimed book recently was published by Simon & Schuster.

Elder, who teaches at Medill, calls "Last Words of the Executed" -- just published by the University of Chicago Press -- "a history of the overlooked, the infamous and the forgotten." Sister Helen Prejean, author of "Dead Man Walking" called it "a dangerous book." In collecting the last utterances of people put to death by the state, Elder has created a history of capital punishment from the gallows, the electric chair and the gurney that is neither blatantly for nor against the death penalty.

The two writers will discuss the research that led to their books and take questions from the audience.

A former journalist for The Wall Street Journal, Chicago magazine, the Dallas Morning News and the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Eig is author of two New York Times best sellers, "Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig" and "Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season."

Elder, a contributing editor to Stop Smiling magazine, is the editor of "John Woo: Interviews," the first authoritative chronicle of the filmmaker's life, legacy and career. A former staff writer for the Chicago Tribune, he has written for the New York Times, Premiere, Los Angeles Times, Salon.com and other publications. His latest book, according to the late Studs Terkel, puts Elder in "the noblest tradition" of journalism.

For information on the presentation by Eig and Elder or on upcoming Crain lectures, call (847) 491-5401, e-mail jpgilbert@northwestern.edu or visit http://www.medill.northwestern.edu/.