Everything you need to understand or teach Legs by William Kennedy.
L egs deals with the meteoric career of Prohibition era gangster Jack "Legs" Diamond who was murdered in 1931 at age thirty-four in an Albany, New York rooming house. Kennedy recognized in Diamond a character whose dynamic individualism made him a mythic hero in American culture during The Depression and Prohibition. The primary social concern of the novel involves the raising of a gangster to such celebrated stature in the public mind. Kennedy said in his essay "The Death of Legs Diamond" in O Albany!
(1983): "He was a complex figure, and the world's response to him was equal ly complex."
Kennedy saw in the historical record contradictory public perceptions of the gangster during the morally ambiguous period of Prohibition. In the same essay from O Albany! Kennedy said "What I came to ... was a plan to assimilate all the truth, all the lies, all the fudged areas in between, and...