The Allure of Alcatraz in Books and Beyond

Sep 10, 2017 By Erik W., 11
Erikw's picture

Harrowing Tales in Appalling Alcatraz

Have you ever thought of yourself time-traveling back to the time when Al Capone and “Machine Gun” Kelly were in Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary? This is what author Gennifer Choldenko does with her three books; Al Capone Does My Shirts, Al Capone Shines My Shoes, and Al Capone Does My Homework. In 1935, Moose Flanagan moves from Santa Monica, CA to Alcatraz Island with his prison guard dad, his mother, and his younger sister Natalie. Natalie is autistic, and in the first book of the “Al Capone” sequel, she needs the infamous convict “Scarface Al” to help her go to Esther P. Marinoff, a special needs school. In the second book, Al Capone wants a return favor because he helped Natalie. In the final book, a mysterious fire burned Moose’s family apartment, and he strives to discover the arsonist culprit. Surely, without the notorious prison Alcatraz, the author couldn’t have written these three compelling fact-based stories.

Gruesome Cells and Ghastly Dungeons

In the Civil War, Alcatraz used to be a military prison for the Confederates and a camp for the Union. Before it closed in 1976 after 29 years of service, it housed some of the most disreputable convicts, including Capone, Kelly, Alvin “Creepy” Karpis (“Public Enemy #1”), and many others heinous characters. Alcatraz prison contains four blocks, labeled sections A to D. A and D block were for the worst, with solitary confinement, and the ghastly Spanish Dungeon, mainly reserved for the “worst of the worst of the worst of the worst” of humanity. B and C block offered slightly better cells with non-solitary confinement.  Fourteen escape attempts involving 36 inmates occurred over the 29-year-old history of “The Rock,” which was another name for this prison. One attempt was successful, as the three criminals who tried to escape were never found…

Visit this Vile Venue!

Now, you can take a short boat ride from San Francisco, California and tour Alcatraz, enter the minute prison cells, and realize how traumatizing it was (and still is) to live in a federal penitentiary. To better appreciate your Alcatraz tour, read one or more of Gennifer’s books to make it come to life!