"If you hate a person, you hate something in him that
is part of
-- Hermann Hesse
To all who knew him, Sam Giancana wasnt quite human.
He was the epitome of the American Dream gone haywire. Born not long after the Horatio
Alger Age, when Americas 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
He reveled in and soaked in his plunder.
When Oscar Wildes 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 centurys worse moments. The St. Valentines 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 magazines award-winning investigative
reporter Sandy Smith writes, "Giancana was just a killer, thats all. And he was
proud of it. As boss, if there was a problem, hed 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 didnt
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
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.