By Joseph Geringer  

Fondless Memories

"If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself."

-- Hermann Hesse

To all who knew him, Sam Giancana wasn’t quite human.

He was the epitome of the American Dream gone haywire. Born not long after the Horatio Alger Age, when America’s polyglot melting pot dreamed of a life of serenity with room to grow, Giancana thrived on disorder. Where a heart should have been there was hellfire, burning his chest with a wolverine-like mayhem. And the mayhem seared through his veins until it flooded his brain with kinetically dark visions. When, indeed, he channeled his visions to become a success in his field -- and exceedingly, lavishly rich -- the money he had earned through deeds of chaos and violence merely bankrolled other, more complex feats of disorder. Like a Caligula bent on autonomy, his empire spread. And though it rotted with decay it glimmered with a false facade of gold, economically, dollar by dollar.

He reveled in and soaked in his plunder.

When Oscar Wilde’s anti-hero Dorian Gray gazed upon his painting in its full oily blossom of evil, the caricature of his soul, he might well have been looking at a portrait of Sam Giancana incarnate. His acts of murder, lust, betrayal ooze like coagulating blood on the canvas of this century’s worse moments. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, the creation of the policy rackets in Chicago, the JFK and Bobby Kennedy assassinations, the murder of Marilyn Monroe: these are but the deepest pockmarks in an infinite number of other scars he was alleged, according to recently presented theories, to have carved on the face of the American Dream.

He took full advantage of the bad times to his own advantage. Using people, the low and the mighty, like rubber balls -- to bounce when thrown -- he would discard those people with bullet, knife and bomb when their purpose had been dissipated.

If, perhaps, he did feel one emotion, it was the joy of killing. Murder dominates his story. Murder eliminated his rivals. Murder vanished witnesses. Murder eradicated competition. Murder dealt revenge. Time magazine’s award-winning investigative reporter Sandy Smith writes, "Giancana was just a killer, that’s all. And he was proud of it. As boss, if there was a problem, he’d listen to a very brief description and then say, ‘Hit him! Hit him!’...Giancana would cuss and scream and howl and try to intimidate you. He was, in almost every respect, a savage."

Oddly, whenever he heard of a gang-initiated killing (even those he caused), he would utter dry-voiced, "Live by the sword, die by the sword," as if he didn’t recognize that more as his own platform.

Sociologists have called him a product of his environment; psychiatrists have diagnosed him as psychopathic; criminologists have gone so far as to say he was a mastermind -- the nearest to anything that might be called a note of praise for Sam Giancana.

But, those who knew him admit that his actions cannot be bottled under any specific label, except to say they seemed to abandon genuine human feeling. In their wake are signposts to hell.

1. Fondless Memories

2. Born in Hell

3. Killin' for Capone

4. Changing of the Guard

5. Moving Up

6. Eyeing the World

7. Kennedy Connection

8. Wayward Politics

9. Betrayal

10. Marilyn Monroe

11. Nov. 22, 1963

12. Downfall

13. To Die in Hell

14. Bibliography

15. The Author
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