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Bullets for Dead Hoods:
An Encyclopedia of Chicago Mobsters,
c. 1933

Salvaged by John Corbett

In the early 2000s, writer, curator, and gallerist John Corbett struck thrift gold at a going-out-of-business Chicago junk shop when he stumbled onto a browned and brittle manuscript intimately documenting the Chicago mob of the early 1930s. The tone of its typewritten and hand-annotated pages immediately grabbed him—sensationalistic and funny, they read like an embellished police blotter, naming names, listing addresses, and recounting crimes. Presented here in facsimile in order to capture the dossier’s distinctive materiality, Bullets for Dead Hoods: An Encyclopedia of Chicago Mobsters, c. 1933 offers a detailed rundown on the Chicago Outfit through 140 noir character sketches, which range from the infamous—Al Capone, George “Bugs” Moran, the Everleigh Sisters—to their lesser known aiders and abettors. Whoever dared to put this testament together was clearly someone with access to information—a cop? a reporter? a bitter mafioso?—but who would’ve risked sharing these particulars, and why, is a mystery that will likely never be solved.

In addition to the full-color manuscript, Bullets for Dead Hoods includes related documentary material, an introduction by Corbett, a compilation of more than 400 locations referenced in the manuscript, and a pull-out map of Chicago that pinpoints over 300 street addresses.

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John Corbett, salvager of Bullets for Dead Hoods, is a writer, curator, and producer based in Chicago, as well as co-owner of Corbett vs. Dempsey, an art gallery. Corbett is the author of numerous books, including Extended Play: Sounding Off from John Cage to Dr. Funkenstein (Duke U. Press, 1994), Microgroove: Forays into Other Music (Duke, 2015), A Listener’s Guide to Free Improvisation (University of Chicago Press, 2016), Vinyl Freak: Love Letters to a Dying Medium (Duke, 2017), and Pick Up the Pieces: Excursions in Seventies Music (University of Chicago, 2019). He has written extensively for  academic and commercial publications, and he has edited, co-edited, or contributed to many books in addition to the 125+ books and catalogs that Corbett vs. Dempsey, has produced. Corbett’s work as a music producer includes the former Unheard Music Series label and Corbett vs. Dempsey, an ongoing label that issues new and historical jazz, experimental music and improvised music. He has organized and/or curated many musical events, festivals, stand-alone events, and exhibitions in the US and beyond.

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