THE WORK OF HISTORIAN HALLER
JANUARY 10, 2022
Paul Ygartua – ILLEGAL ENTERPRISE
Matthew G. Yeager, Ph.D.
My background is in criminology, and while at U.C. Berkeley in its fabled criminology school, I studied organized crime and was even a teaching assistant in the School’s undergraduate course on the subject. At Berkeley, I made contact with historian Mark Haller who helped me better understand illegal crime formations. Later on, I pursued a master’s degree in criminal justice, and finally finished a doctorate in penology and criminology in 2006 up in Ottawa, Ontario.
As a teaching professor in Canada, I formulated a course titled “Gangsters and the Mob” and stayed in touch with professor Mark Haller, who by that time was retired. In the course of my conversations with him, I learned that he had always wanted to publish a book about organized crime in Chicago and Philadelphia, where he had conducted research. Haller was instrumental in convincing the University of Chicago Press to publish John Landesco’s Organized Crime in Chicago (1929, 1969), which is now considered a classic in the field and an early academic study of criminal organizations.
By this time, around the summer of 2010, I interviewed 82-year-old Mark Haller in Philadelphia about his career teaching and his extensive work in organized crime. That interview was published in Trends in Organized Crime, circa 2011. However, by this time, I had pitched to Professor Haller that I assist him with the publication of his book on illegal enterprise, and I proceeded to obtain his written permission and collect various articles and unpublished work he had completed during his career. This resulted in the publication ILLEGAL ENTERPRISE: The Work of Historian Mark Haller, which was published in 2013.
On a bright day in December during Toronto’s “One of a Kind” Show, I came across a booth featuring B.C. artist Paul Ygartua. His wife was stationed at the booth, and one of the paintings featured a nifty portrait of the musician Jimmy Hendrix, 4’ by 4’.
I asked Joanne if her husband could be commissioned to do a portrait of the “Big Guy,” otherwise known as Al Capone. The painting finally arrived in the new year, and it was stellar. Artist Paul Ygartua had used a 1 inch by 1 inch black and white photo, turning it into a color portrait which now graces both the cover of the Haller book as well as my office wall. This was a remarkable piece of work by a major talent. It remains one of my prized possessions.
Matthew G. Yeager, Ph.D.
Department of Sociology
KING’S UNIVERSITY COLLEGE
At Western University, Canada
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