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This unforgettable narrative follows the astonishing career and epic manhunt for Whitey Bulger—a gangster whose life was more sensational than fiction. Raised in a South Boston housing project, James "Whitey" Bulger became the most wanted fugitive of his generation. In this riveting story, rich with family ties and intrigue, award-winning Boston Globe reporters Kevin Cullen This unforgettable narrative follows the astonishing career and epic manhunt for Whitey Bulger—a gangster whose life was more sensational than fiction. Raised in a South Boston housing project, James "Whitey" Bulger became the most wanted fugitive of his generation. In this riveting story, rich with family ties and intrigue, award-winning Boston Globe reporters Kevin Cullen and Shelley Murphy follow Whitey's extraordinary criminal career--from teenage thievery to bank robberies to the building of his underworld empire and a string of brutal murders. It was after a nine-year stint in Alcatraz and other prisons that Whitey reunited with his brother William "Billy" Bulger, who was soon to become one of Massachusetts's most powerful politicians. He also became reacquainted with John Connolly, who had grown up around the corner from the Bulgers and was now--with Billy's help--a rising star at the FBI. Once Whitey emerged triumphant from the bloody Boston gang wars, Connolly recruited him as an informant against the Mafia. Their clandestine relationship made Whitey untouchable; the FBI overlooked gambling, drugs, and even homicide to protect their source. Among the close-knit Irish community in South Boston, nothing was more important than honor and loyalty, and nothing was worse than being a rat. Whitey is charged with the deaths of nineteen people killed over turf, for business, and even for being informants; yet to this day he denies he ever gave up his friends or landed anyone in jail. Based on exclusive access and previously undisclosed documents, Cullen and Murphy explore the truth of the Whitey Bulger story. They reveal for the first time the extent of his two parallel family lives with different women, as well as his lifelong paranoia stemming in part from his experience in the CIA's MKULTRA program. They describe his support of the IRA and his hitherto-unknown role in the Boston busing crisis, and they show a keen understanding of his mindset while on the lam and behind bars. The result is the first full portrait of this legendary criminal figure--a gripping story of wiseguys and cops, horrendous government malfeasance, and a sixteen-year manhunt that climaxed in Whitey's dramatic capture in Santa Monica in June 2011.


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This unforgettable narrative follows the astonishing career and epic manhunt for Whitey Bulger—a gangster whose life was more sensational than fiction. Raised in a South Boston housing project, James "Whitey" Bulger became the most wanted fugitive of his generation. In this riveting story, rich with family ties and intrigue, award-winning Boston Globe reporters Kevin Cullen This unforgettable narrative follows the astonishing career and epic manhunt for Whitey Bulger—a gangster whose life was more sensational than fiction. Raised in a South Boston housing project, James "Whitey" Bulger became the most wanted fugitive of his generation. In this riveting story, rich with family ties and intrigue, award-winning Boston Globe reporters Kevin Cullen and Shelley Murphy follow Whitey's extraordinary criminal career--from teenage thievery to bank robberies to the building of his underworld empire and a string of brutal murders. It was after a nine-year stint in Alcatraz and other prisons that Whitey reunited with his brother William "Billy" Bulger, who was soon to become one of Massachusetts's most powerful politicians. He also became reacquainted with John Connolly, who had grown up around the corner from the Bulgers and was now--with Billy's help--a rising star at the FBI. Once Whitey emerged triumphant from the bloody Boston gang wars, Connolly recruited him as an informant against the Mafia. Their clandestine relationship made Whitey untouchable; the FBI overlooked gambling, drugs, and even homicide to protect their source. Among the close-knit Irish community in South Boston, nothing was more important than honor and loyalty, and nothing was worse than being a rat. Whitey is charged with the deaths of nineteen people killed over turf, for business, and even for being informants; yet to this day he denies he ever gave up his friends or landed anyone in jail. Based on exclusive access and previously undisclosed documents, Cullen and Murphy explore the truth of the Whitey Bulger story. They reveal for the first time the extent of his two parallel family lives with different women, as well as his lifelong paranoia stemming in part from his experience in the CIA's MKULTRA program. They describe his support of the IRA and his hitherto-unknown role in the Boston busing crisis, and they show a keen understanding of his mindset while on the lam and behind bars. The result is the first full portrait of this legendary criminal figure--a gripping story of wiseguys and cops, horrendous government malfeasance, and a sixteen-year manhunt that climaxed in Whitey's dramatic capture in Santa Monica in June 2011.

30 review for Whitey Bulger: America's Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him to Justice

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lewis Weinstein

    Whitey Bulger was a horrible man, and the FBI was even worse, but this is an exciting, well-written book that has the pace of a thriller. Bulger was smart; what a waste of talent. But his solution whenever confronted with a problem was always murder - at least 19 of them. His energy was devoted to stealing from others the fruits of their (mostly illegal) labor. He never did any legitimate work of his own. Bulger was protected by the FBI, in return for information he allegedly provided to help the Whitey Bulger was a horrible man, and the FBI was even worse, but this is an exciting, well-written book that has the pace of a thriller. Bulger was smart; what a waste of talent. But his solution whenever confronted with a problem was always murder - at least 19 of them. His energy was devoted to stealing from others the fruits of their (mostly illegal) labor. He never did any legitimate work of his own. Bulger was protected by the FBI, in return for information he allegedly provided to help the FBI destroy the Boston mafia. He was given license to extort and kill, and his crimes were covered up. The really frustrating part of the book is that only one FBI agent was prosecuted and sent to prison. The Boston and DC offices emerged largely unscathed from their despicable acts. It leaves one wondering what levels of FBI corruption remain undiscovered and serves to tar all the good FBI agents. Kevin Cullen and Shelley Murphy have written a remarkable book, well worth reading if you have the stomach for it. My wife and I attended one day of Bulger's trial in Boston this past summer, where we watched the testimony of Ralph Flemmi, Bulger's chief partner in crime and murder. It was spellbinding and horrifying. People like that exist, and sometimes the FBI helps them do their business.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Laura Phelps

    This books is seriously a tome. Massive in size and substance, I was expecting to learn a great deal about Whitey himself (and I must admit here, I'm a little freaked out even mentioning Whitey's name in a public forum - I'm terrified of him after reading this book, even though he's clearly no longer a threat and certainly not to me), but I was surprised by how much I learned about Boston socio-economics and politics. Whitey Bulger's story is deeply and intrinsically tied to both South Boston This books is seriously a tome. Massive in size and substance, I was expecting to learn a great deal about Whitey himself (and I must admit here, I'm a little freaked out even mentioning Whitey's name in a public forum - I'm terrified of him after reading this book, even though he's clearly no longer a threat and certainly not to me), but I was surprised by how much I learned about Boston socio-economics and politics. Whitey Bulger's story is deeply and intrinsically tied to both South Boston and the FBI, as the authors' meticulous research shows and I really enjoyed the historical perspective on it all. Several days after finishing it, I'm still thinking about Whitey and the contradictory man that he appears to be!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Christine Mathieu

    This biography on Whitey Bulger was very interesting as it contains more information about his 16 years on the run than the other books that I've read on Bulger. The topic "man on the run" fascinates me since my childhood when I was watching "The Fugitive" with David Janssen playing Dr. Richard Kimble on German TV. If anybody can recommend more non-fiction books about people on the run I would be thrilled. This biography on Whitey Bulger was very interesting as it contains more information about his 16 years on the run than the other books that I've read on Bulger. The topic "man on the run" fascinates me since my childhood when I was watching "The Fugitive" with David Janssen playing Dr. Richard Kimble on German TV. If anybody can recommend more non-fiction books about people on the run I would be thrilled.

  4. 4 out of 5

    John Woltjer

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. There has been much written about the inherent nature of human beings, and as a former educator, I have reflected many times on the question as to whether or not people can be born "bad." There is something deep in us that wants to believe that at birth, we are all potentially improvable, and that no basic trait is immutable. Whitey Bulger comes about as close to being a born sociopath as I have ever encountered. And yet... This book treats many facets of Bulger's life: His upbringing in Southie; There has been much written about the inherent nature of human beings, and as a former educator, I have reflected many times on the question as to whether or not people can be born "bad." There is something deep in us that wants to believe that at birth, we are all potentially improvable, and that no basic trait is immutable. Whitey Bulger comes about as close to being a born sociopath as I have ever encountered. And yet... This book treats many facets of Bulger's life: His upbringing in Southie; the tribalism and clannishness of the Irish; the blinding loyalty of family and friends. That Bulger was born with a strong, contrarian will and a disinclination to obey authority seems quite clear. He seems always to be crashing into forces that want him to do something that he does not want to do: parents, teachers, police, etc. By the time he reaches adulthood he has already had numerous run-ins with the law for theft, sexual assault, aggression, fighting--you name it--by 18, he already had a long rap sheet. But the tight bond of the Irish seems to keep giving him a pass, until he finally commits a crime that puts him in Alcatraz. All seems to go well in prison. He seems to have reconciled himself to paying for his crimes, and for the most part, in prison, he manages to obey the rules, and is so convincing to the authorities (with Father Robert Drinan, his brother, and numerous others pleading his case) that he gets out on parole with the stated promise that he has turned his life around and intends to live right. Which points out another outsized trait of his--his manipulative charm. Those who trusted him, took him at his word, were seduced by his charm, would have witnessed just what a conniver he really was--had they been interested in really finding out... He embarks on a life of considerable savagery as he consolidates power in a community where the old gangsters have been weakened while he was in prison. Theft, coercion, protection rackets, shaking down drug dealers and murder--he is a criminal polymath, and carries out his crimes with particular savagery. , Whitey has a handler in the FBI--a younger member of the Southie community who Whitey treated kindly a couple of times as a kid who sanitizes and manipulates information to make it look like Whitey had a direct conduit to the inside of the Mafia. And the FBI, obsessed with decapitting the Mafia, essentially gives Whitey a free pass to carry out whatever criminal activities he wants including murder, as long as he provides them with intelligence that advances their cause. The open question about Whitey though, is a result of the effect of his "voluntary" acquiescence to do LSD trials under the auspices of the CIA while in Alcatraz. It seems that the effects of this, which traumatized him in prison, may have caused a psychological shift in him that exacerbated his already troubling behavioral traits. It seems that some of the experiences that he had as a result of the LSD so disturbed him that he was never able to fully escape the effects. Whitey is scheduled to go to trial in 2013, and swears that he will tell his true story. There is pretty credible evidence that the FBI never really wanted to find him in the 15 years he was on the lam, because of the terrible embarrassment that his poor handling would reveal about the organiization. A highly recommended read--exhaustively researched, well written--a compelling story about a very complex man in a very complex time.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kirsti

    "Christmas is for cops and kids." --Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger one December as he stuffed envelopes full of cash for FBI agents (He also gave out Lalique crystal, cases of wine, and fancy clocks.) Even if you know that Whitey Bulger was at the top of the FBI's Most Wanted list and had a $2 million bounty on his head, you may not know that . . . * He literally ran away with the circus when he was a young man. * He once owned an ocelot. * He volunteered to be injected with LSD once a week "Christmas is for cops and kids." --Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger one December as he stuffed envelopes full of cash for FBI agents (He also gave out Lalique crystal, cases of wine, and fancy clocks.) Even if you know that Whitey Bulger was at the top of the FBI's Most Wanted list and had a $2 million bounty on his head, you may not know that . . . * He literally ran away with the circus when he was a young man. * He once owned an ocelot. * He volunteered to be injected with LSD once a week for 15 months to reduce his time in prison. (The doctors told him they needed healthy volunteers to help them cure schizophrenia. It was actually a CIA mind control experiment. The drugs caused horrific nightmares and hallucinations, and he got only 54 days off his sentence.) * He bragged that he read a book a day during his 10-year stint in prison. * He also bragged that he had killed 40 people. * He firebombed the JFK birthplace during the busing crisis. * He tried to blow up Plymouth Rock. (He just chipped it a little and blasted a hole in the sand.) * He shot up the front entrance and the back entrance of the Boston Globe building. When the newspaper hired more security guards, he bragged he was a jobs creator. * He cut down on killing people (and dumped two of his four girlfriends) when his doctor told him that stress was bad for his heart. Between Honey Fitz, Toodles, Billy O, Spike, Zip, Wimpy, and Punchy, the nicknames in this book make it feel like a demented fairy tale--Snow White(y) and the Seven Hoods. "I can't kill [up-and-coming politician] Ray Flynn. But I can kill you. . . . Killing you would be easy." Bulger to a 25-year-old political aide

  6. 5 out of 5

    Christian

    This book really should be four and a half stars but you don't get that option on Goodreads. If people are looking for the definitive book on Boston's most notorious criminal then this is the one. You get the whole story of what James "Whitey" Bulger is all about, the things he did and the people in power who protected him. Kevin Cullen and Shelley Murphy know everything about Bulger and they tell all of it On top of that, it's one of those books you can't put down. It's a fast 400-page book. Th This book really should be four and a half stars but you don't get that option on Goodreads. If people are looking for the definitive book on Boston's most notorious criminal then this is the one. You get the whole story of what James "Whitey" Bulger is all about, the things he did and the people in power who protected him. Kevin Cullen and Shelley Murphy know everything about Bulger and they tell all of it On top of that, it's one of those books you can't put down. It's a fast 400-page book. The burning questions I had afterwards is how did Whitey educate himself after getting kicked out of school after school and among other things? The other was when was the exact moment when he became extremely violent and turned into a pathological killer? Where did it all begin for Whitey Bulger? Maybe if I re-read it, I'll find the answer I'm looking for. In the meantime, if you want to know all about Boston's infamous (or even legendary) gangster, then Cullen and Murphy's book is the one.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Chrystine Collins-blums

    Extremely Thorough, Well Researched, and Highly Readable Extremely Thorough, Well Researched, and Highly Readable The Whitey Bulger tale is legendary. There has been so much written it's hard to know what to believe. The biography by Cullen and Murphy is well researched and explains the back story of Bulger and how he grew up, matter of factly, not in an apologetic nor heroic manner. It is detailed enough to provide a thorough explanation of events without over elaborating to the nth degree. The r Extremely Thorough, Well Researched, and Highly Readable Extremely Thorough, Well Researched, and Highly Readable The Whitey Bulger tale is legendary. There has been so much written it's hard to know what to believe. The biography by Cullen and Murphy is well researched and explains the back story of Bulger and how he grew up, matter of factly, not in an apologetic nor heroic manner. It is detailed enough to provide a thorough explanation of events without over elaborating to the nth degree. The rare instances where Bulger is seemingly kind, it recounts them (even Hitler liked dogs) but this account in no way attempts to romanticize Bulger, his life or make him into some "Robin Hood of Southie." Great writing, fascinating tale.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I'm about half-way through the book. I picked it up because as a transplant, I could never understand what the fuss over this man was about. I now understand the fascination with him. Cullen and Murphy have written an engaging account that does not just expose the corrupt relationship between Bulger and the FBI, it forces the reader to ask the tough questions: how far is it ethical to go to bring down a powerful crime syndicate like the Mafia? The FBI special agents appear to have truly thought I'm about half-way through the book. I picked it up because as a transplant, I could never understand what the fuss over this man was about. I now understand the fascination with him. Cullen and Murphy have written an engaging account that does not just expose the corrupt relationship between Bulger and the FBI, it forces the reader to ask the tough questions: how far is it ethical to go to bring down a powerful crime syndicate like the Mafia? The FBI special agents appear to have truly thought that they were ultimately doing the greatest good for the greatest number. Is it possible for law enforcement to work that closely with a corrupt organization and not become corrupted? The book's message is a resounding "no". How can someone like Bulger be capable of such horrible acts but also do much good for many people? His capacity for both extreme good and col-blooded murder is what clearly makes him so fascinating. It's a study in the narratives we tell ourselves to excuse our bad actions as much as anything else. What also stood out to me was Bulger's intelligence and charisma--it's clear that this engendered extreme loyalty in many people. He couldn't have kept up his organization without it. He put that together with the neighborhood loyalty in South Boston, and for many years he was unstoppable. The authors clearly think that the impression he made on his main FBI handler, and the one who covered for him for many years, as a child in South Boston was what allowed this to go on for so many years. Bill Bulger also stands out as an interesting figure--the reasons he stands behind his brother are never fully explained--I don't think they can be. The authors chalk it up to the tendency in South Boston for the same family to produce a police officer with a gangster (or "wiseguy"). It is interesting to observe how this phenomenon is taken for granted as a by product of growing up in public housing, yet today we punish families who have a convict among them by throwing them out of public housing if they provide a place to stay for a someone returning from prison (as Bulger's family did for him). In addition to reading this book, I'm simultaneously reading the WBUR blog of the trial and the columns Cullen wrote on it. It's interesting that Cullen is mostly pleased with the way the trial was conducted and the verdicts while the WBUR blogger is very critical of the prosecutors' presentation and disappointed with the verdict. I would have expected the opposite.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Barry Mcdonough

    Pretty comprehensive bio of the white man. According to legend, my dad had a pretty good run in with him in late 60's when my dad had an Irish nightclub in Southie. Pretty comprehensive bio of the white man. According to legend, my dad had a pretty good run in with him in late 60's when my dad had an Irish nightclub in Southie.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Florence

    Whitey Bulger had a long career as a Boston-based gangster. He and his cohorts murdered many people, some of them were not gangsters. They just got in his way. The real focus of this book is on the unsavory partnership Whitey had with the FBI. A local agent was eventually convicted and jailed for his complicity with Whitey's murderous activities. Some believe that the FBI did all they could to allow Whitey to escape capture for many years, knowing that his history, when revealed, would give the Whitey Bulger had a long career as a Boston-based gangster. He and his cohorts murdered many people, some of them were not gangsters. They just got in his way. The real focus of this book is on the unsavory partnership Whitey had with the FBI. A local agent was eventually convicted and jailed for his complicity with Whitey's murderous activities. Some believe that the FBI did all they could to allow Whitey to escape capture for many years, knowing that his history, when revealed, would give the Bureau a black eye. This is a sordid tale, fascinating and well researched.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jack

    A very enjoyable, informative book on one of the more interesting criminals to come out of any major city in a long time. Fear and intimidation were Whitey's stock in trade. If that didn't work, he'd kill you. The book details just how corrupt the Boston FBI office was, and how they stymied the State Police and other agencies at every turn. A whole passel of Whitey's cohorts have written books about their association with him, now I'd like to here from the man himself. A very enjoyable, informative book on one of the more interesting criminals to come out of any major city in a long time. Fear and intimidation were Whitey's stock in trade. If that didn't work, he'd kill you. The book details just how corrupt the Boston FBI office was, and how they stymied the State Police and other agencies at every turn. A whole passel of Whitey's cohorts have written books about their association with him, now I'd like to here from the man himself.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    Coming from the Boston area I found this book very good, interesting and informative. The descriptions of the Boston neighborhoods and the bussing issue I found were pretty much right on. I do not know what to believe or to believe any of the FBI or Gangster stories. It seems to me they were all a bunch of lying Rats all trying to save their Asses. Forget the Good, just Bad and Ugly... A good read none the less...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Maria Tonelli

    Oftentimes repetitive, it was confusing at times trying to keep the facts straight. But an amazing portrayal nonetheless. The authors did an incredible job given the amount of information and the number of individuals involved. A timely read as Whitey Bulger makes daily news headlines during his ongoing trial.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Keith

    This was a fascinating, compelling and eye-opening account into one of Boston most notorious mobsters. Going to make an amazing movie in the future. Kudos to Kevin Cullen and Shelley Murphy!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Hilary

    A bit detailed, but a fascinating true story of organized crime in Boston as well as Whitey Bulger's interplay with the FBI and his years on the run. A bit detailed, but a fascinating true story of organized crime in Boston as well as Whitey Bulger's interplay with the FBI and his years on the run.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    How do I give this book 1 million and a half stars

  17. 4 out of 5

    Russ

    A very informative book. Having lived in Massachusetts, I had heard of James "Whitey" Bulger. If you didn't live in the northeast then you probably had never heard of him. The authors did a lot of research. Going all the way back to his troubled childhood and his participation in the gang wars. His rise to prominence in the Winter Hill Gang. Brother William , a prominent politician and later, briefly, president of UMass. Whitey viewed law enforcement as the good good guys. He was one of the good A very informative book. Having lived in Massachusetts, I had heard of James "Whitey" Bulger. If you didn't live in the northeast then you probably had never heard of him. The authors did a lot of research. Going all the way back to his troubled childhood and his participation in the gang wars. His rise to prominence in the Winter Hill Gang. Brother William , a prominent politician and later, briefly, president of UMass. Whitey viewed law enforcement as the good good guys. He was one of the good bad guys. He constantly denied being an FBI informer. He's still alive, close to 90 and in prison. A good read if you are a New England native.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dan S

    My dad sent this book to me thinking I'd like it. And boy did I! Very informative and learned a lot that I didn't know about him before (including his attempt to blow up the Plymouth Rock!). He and his cronies were quite a scary bunch and definitely would not want to cross the likes of him, Flemmi or any one else in the Winter Hill Gang. My dad sent this book to me thinking I'd like it. And boy did I! Very informative and learned a lot that I didn't know about him before (including his attempt to blow up the Plymouth Rock!). He and his cronies were quite a scary bunch and definitely would not want to cross the likes of him, Flemmi or any one else in the Winter Hill Gang.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Johnny King

    I feel like this was more about Whitey and less about the FBI like Black Mass was. A lot of the information between the two are similar, if not the same, but I feel like this was the better of the two.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Athan Tolis

    If you enjoyed watching "The Departed," then this book, the true story behind the movie, should appeal to you. Whitey Bulger started life as a petty criminal at the docks in Boston, moved on to a brief career in bank robbery and graduated from the federal correctional system (including a spell at Alcatraz) to run the Boston underworld for longer than a decade. This book argues that his success, if that is the right word for it, was not so much due to his ruthless treatment of opponents and potenti If you enjoyed watching "The Departed," then this book, the true story behind the movie, should appeal to you. Whitey Bulger started life as a petty criminal at the docks in Boston, moved on to a brief career in bank robbery and graduated from the federal correctional system (including a spell at Alcatraz) to run the Boston underworld for longer than a decade. This book argues that his success, if that is the right word for it, was not so much due to his ruthless treatment of opponents and potential informers (conservative estimates attribute 19 murders to him) but to the fact that he grew up in predominantly Irish Southie together with a prominent local politician (his brother Bill) and his eventual FBI handler (next door neighbor John Connolly). This bond, the authors allege, provided him the necessary cover for a criminal career that spanned the whole postwar period up to the eighties. In awarding damages to a number of Bulger's victims, US courts have now implicitly decided that the FBI and Bulger to some extent worked together to eliminate the Italian mafia in Boston, in exchange for which Bulger was effectively given carte blanche to make Boston his protection fiefdom, with activities ranging from gambling and drugs to the arming of the IRA. That fact alone means the authors can't be far off the truth. According to my brother, who lives in Boston, has read most of the literature, is friends with people in law enforcement, and is more than a little interested in the topic, this is the definitive account of the Whitey Bulger affair. I can't comment on that, obviously, but I can say that this is a fascinating book. Importantly, the authors are two of the Boston journalists who first uncovered Bulger's FBI link decades ago and put their necks on the line to expose it, so this is a very detailed and substantiated book, but it is not in the least sensationalist. And for all its 400+ pages it's actually written in as compact a way as possible, given how much ground had to be covered. You get the story behind every proven murder, from its motivation, to the (inevitably disputed) eyewitness account of how it was carried out, to how the body was disposed of. Most importantly, there is a narrative. You get the history and the context, you don't actually notice that this is a story built around the evidence for the hard facts (i.e. the murders). The book reads like the series of human relationships that shaped Whitey Bulger: his parents, siblings and neighbours, then his partners in crime, his fellow prison inmates, two of his many women, his FBI handlers and his victims and their families all feature. And it ends with the manhunt that led to his arrest. Overall, this is comprehensive, well-written and as short as humanly possible.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Patrick O'Neil

    The Whitey Bulger story intrigues the shit out of me. It is so indicative of what's wrong with America's law enforcement and criminal justice systems. Informants and the aiding and a abetting of the lesser evil – only who decides which is which and how arbitrary is it to go after one while the other flourishes? The FBI is a sham. Hoover's obsessive compulsion to nab commies in the '50's while virtually ignoring organized crime is a prime example. Now here the FBI is at it again, using the Irish The Whitey Bulger story intrigues the shit out of me. It is so indicative of what's wrong with America's law enforcement and criminal justice systems. Informants and the aiding and a abetting of the lesser evil – only who decides which is which and how arbitrary is it to go after one while the other flourishes? The FBI is a sham. Hoover's obsessive compulsion to nab commies in the '50's while virtually ignoring organized crime is a prime example. Now here the FBI is at it again, using the Irish mob to get at the Mafia because… ah, who the hell knows? And then Bulger is off and running and they can't seem to find him for 20 years because, well, because terrorism is the new problem, and catching criminals' needs to take a backseat to that. It's all about priorities. Never mind that Bulger's FBI handler John Connolly is doing time, and all of Whitey's cronies are ratting him out, the victims families are suing, the feds are lying, and it's a huge freakin mess – we're still supposed to have faith in our law enforcement institutions. Yeah, right. Interesting to see it all laid out here. Although, I felt the book a bit repetitive, a good editor could've cut down on the same information being repeated over and over. However, I am sure it had to do with getting the book out before the market was flooded. Or, before all things Whitey Bulger were forgotten.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    A great overview of Whitey's life and rule in South Boston, as well as the unbelievably crooked FBI organized crime division in the Boston office. While I went into it with some background knowledge about Whitey and the Boston neighborhoods discussed, Cullen and Murphy do a good job with catching up readers who may not know much about Southie. Cullen has a history with Whitey, as he has been writing about him for the Globe for decades now. It's hard to stay objective about Bulger and those around A great overview of Whitey's life and rule in South Boston, as well as the unbelievably crooked FBI organized crime division in the Boston office. While I went into it with some background knowledge about Whitey and the Boston neighborhoods discussed, Cullen and Murphy do a good job with catching up readers who may not know much about Southie. Cullen has a history with Whitey, as he has been writing about him for the Globe for decades now. It's hard to stay objective about Bulger and those around him, as the despicable things that went on both on the criminal side and within law enforcement, are blood boiling. The authors do a good job of telling all sides of the story. Whitey's human side is portrayed, and while it certainly does not justify anything he's done, it is the sign of a good biography that someone as evil as Bulger can be humanized by the authors. The only small thing I would nitpick is the fact that while the book is narrative in general, it skips around a bit even within chapters, so if you're not paying really close attention it can be a bit confusing at times.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth Barber

    This book is a biography of James Bolger known as Whitey. He was born and raised in south Boston and rose to the top of the underworld there. It follows his criminal career and his early prison term part of which was served at Alcatraz. When released he returned to Boston and began hide to the top of criminal activity in the city. He was aided in his rise by the FBI. John Connolly, an agent in Boston and childhood acquaintance, enlisted Whitey as an informant in the effort to bring down the loca This book is a biography of James Bolger known as Whitey. He was born and raised in south Boston and rose to the top of the underworld there. It follows his criminal career and his early prison term part of which was served at Alcatraz. When released he returned to Boston and began hide to the top of criminal activity in the city. He was aided in his rise by the FBI. John Connolly, an agent in Boston and childhood acquaintance, enlisted Whitey as an informant in the effort to bring down the local Mafia. In return the FBI covered for him and his criminal activities. They tipped him off about investigations into his activities and those who were informing on him. All the while Whitey was committing crimes: murders, extortion, drugs, etc. when law enforcement was closing in finally, Connolly tipped him off so he could flee. Whitey was able to evade arrest for 16 years. He was finally apprehended and tried for his crimes. The book is a fascinating story of crime and FBI malfeasance.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    A fascinating page turner covering the rise and fall of Whitey Bulger. The tale is impossible to write without a detailed background of the socioeconomics, politics and race relations of South Boston during the time Whitey was in action and the book provides this information. Whiteys' activities may have ended up as strictly a story of interest for Boston and some of the northeast, but the interplay of the FBI's protection of him by some corrupt agents makes for a very intriguing read. As the sa A fascinating page turner covering the rise and fall of Whitey Bulger. The tale is impossible to write without a detailed background of the socioeconomics, politics and race relations of South Boston during the time Whitey was in action and the book provides this information. Whiteys' activities may have ended up as strictly a story of interest for Boston and some of the northeast, but the interplay of the FBI's protection of him by some corrupt agents makes for a very intriguing read. As the saying goes "you can't make this s*&t up", although parts are very hard to believe. The writers were painstaking in covering the story with journalistic integrity although parts were a bit confusing due to all of the characters involved. The book does a good job at humanizing Whitey and his colleagues and in the end exposing them for what they are, a bunch of sociopathic murderers.

  25. 4 out of 5

    David

    This is a face-paced run from coast to coast, starting in Boston's South End, and culminating in an apartment building on the California coast. The cast of characters is large, as is the even larger contacts and presumed murders and strong-armed street pals who run many improper actions in eastern Massachusetts. This is an absorbing story to one who lived in the Boston area during Bulger's heyday and was living in southern California when he was finally captured. The two authors have done an out This is a face-paced run from coast to coast, starting in Boston's South End, and culminating in an apartment building on the California coast. The cast of characters is large, as is the even larger contacts and presumed murders and strong-armed street pals who run many improper actions in eastern Massachusetts. This is an absorbing story to one who lived in the Boston area during Bulger's heyday and was living in southern California when he was finally captured. The two authors have done an outstanding job of piecing together the essentials of the Bulger story. The story was especially engaging for Natalie and me since her brother-in-Law Evo Somontes had a cousin Vinnie who was one of Bulger's victims, and we were struck by the oddity that Bulger finally was captured in Santa Monica so close to where our family have been during the past twenty years.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Scott Shepard

    For decades, the Irish mob ran South Boston. Under the leadership of boss leader Whitey Bulger, they flooded the streets with drugs, ran gambling and prostitution rings, and killed anyone who got in their way. Whitey found he could ensure survival for himself and his crew by becoming an FBI informant, giving up information on his enemies, and earning protection in return. The Federal government protected Irish mobsters in order to persecute the Italian cosa nostra mafia. This book definitively l For decades, the Irish mob ran South Boston. Under the leadership of boss leader Whitey Bulger, they flooded the streets with drugs, ran gambling and prostitution rings, and killed anyone who got in their way. Whitey found he could ensure survival for himself and his crew by becoming an FBI informant, giving up information on his enemies, and earning protection in return. The Federal government protected Irish mobsters in order to persecute the Italian cosa nostra mafia. This book definitively lays out the corrupt, entrenched conspiracy for which only a few individuals paid a price. This book will make your blood boil. How could the FBI possibly justify these kinds of decisions? In lends weight to every crazy conspiracy theory. If they were able to do this, what else were they able to do? A chilling book and a must-read for any true crime fine.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

    The Boston Globe reporters did a terrific job of depicting not only Whitey Bulger and the gangsters of Boston, but the city and its ethos during Bulger's reign: the 1970's, 80's and early 90's. Perhaps the most fascinating entity was the Boston FBI (and perhaps higher up as well) whose agents, especially one who had been one of Bulger's childhood friends, covered up for Bulger and his gang in the FBI's single-minded quest to root out the FBI. For those who have seen "Black Mass" with Johnny Depp The Boston Globe reporters did a terrific job of depicting not only Whitey Bulger and the gangsters of Boston, but the city and its ethos during Bulger's reign: the 1970's, 80's and early 90's. Perhaps the most fascinating entity was the Boston FBI (and perhaps higher up as well) whose agents, especially one who had been one of Bulger's childhood friends, covered up for Bulger and his gang in the FBI's single-minded quest to root out the FBI. For those who have seen "Black Mass" with Johnny Depp as Whitey Bulger, and are interested ("enjoying" the movie is difficult), this book is a perfect read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sue Wargo

    I'm totally fascinated by Whitey Bulger and this is the third book I've read about him and his gang. While feeling a little obsessed, I've read three different perspectives. The first was graphic and gritty from a hit man inside the gang, the next a police perspective that was uncorrupted, and lastly this book from the press. This book was more of a history but not quite a biography. Each book has provided a deeper look into the corruption of Boston politics and the intertwining of the variation I'm totally fascinated by Whitey Bulger and this is the third book I've read about him and his gang. While feeling a little obsessed, I've read three different perspectives. The first was graphic and gritty from a hit man inside the gang, the next a police perspective that was uncorrupted, and lastly this book from the press. This book was more of a history but not quite a biography. Each book has provided a deeper look into the corruption of Boston politics and the intertwining of the variations on mob crime with government handlers who shockingly kept the gang from being caught and accountable.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Peleckis

    I grew up in Massachusetts, so this book fascinates me on two levels. For its obvious appeal for one fascinated with nonfictional accounts of organized crime along the lines of Wiseguy and Casino by Nicholas Pileggi, it's a good read. But also it satisfies my nostalgic curiosity in the history of Boston from the early 1970s through the early 2000s, the very years that it shaped me, as told by reporters from the paper that was a daily read in my house. I am enjoying and learning from this book ve I grew up in Massachusetts, so this book fascinates me on two levels. For its obvious appeal for one fascinated with nonfictional accounts of organized crime along the lines of Wiseguy and Casino by Nicholas Pileggi, it's a good read. But also it satisfies my nostalgic curiosity in the history of Boston from the early 1970s through the early 2000s, the very years that it shaped me, as told by reporters from the paper that was a daily read in my house. I am enjoying and learning from this book very much.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    I skipped ahead in this book to find out about the capture of notorious gangster Whitey Bulger and his longtime mistress, who both had been "hiding in plain sight" for more than a decade in the heart of Santa Monica, CA. And, a lot of that was purely because I was living relatively close to him (and running by his apartment every week). Admittedly, I didn't know much about his crimes. When I started at the beginning to learn about what he actually did, this book became incredibly depressing, part I skipped ahead in this book to find out about the capture of notorious gangster Whitey Bulger and his longtime mistress, who both had been "hiding in plain sight" for more than a decade in the heart of Santa Monica, CA. And, a lot of that was purely because I was living relatively close to him (and running by his apartment every week). Admittedly, I didn't know much about his crimes. When I started at the beginning to learn about what he actually did, this book became incredibly depressing, particularly when learning of his involvement with crooked FBI men who protected him.

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