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Bulger On Trial: Boston's Most Notorious Gangster And The Pursuit Of Justice

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The trial of James “Whitey” Bulger this summer was supposed to bring an end to one of the greatest scandals in the history of the FBI, but it dredged up a toxic swamp instead. Horrific crimes, depraved witnesses and sordid accounts of FBI agents who gave their allegiance to the mob boss emerged from the muck as families of 19 murder victims endured the presentation of brok The trial of James “Whitey” Bulger this summer was supposed to bring an end to one of the greatest scandals in the history of the FBI, but it dredged up a toxic swamp instead. Horrific crimes, depraved witnesses and sordid accounts of FBI agents who gave their allegiance to the mob boss emerged from the muck as families of 19 murder victims endured the presentation of broken skulls and jaws along with photos from the morgue. At center stage was the defendant, who had been listed and protected by the FBI as a secret informant. He claimed the government had given him a free pass, but prosecutors fought to keep the trial away from questions of who made Bulger what he became and how. In an extraordinary measure of their outrage, the families of the victims cheered Bulger’s own attorneys as they savaged the government’s “cover-up” and the deals prosecutors had given to Bulger’s former associates to win testimony. In the first book to explore the trial in a larger context, WBUR investigative reporter David Boeri weaves his daily trial dispatches into the complete backstory of Bulger’s ruthless ascent to power, the men and the agency who made that possible, and the families of victims who were victimized again and again by the government’s protection of the killer. Boeri’s storytelling is informed by 26 years of national award-winning reporting on the Bulger case. He aggressively dug into FBI corruption and tracked the Bureau’s delayed, often inept search for the 16-year fugitive. Years before Bulger was arrested in Santa Monica, Bulger travelled to California to follow his own tips in search of Whitey and showed the lack of FBI effort and enterprise. His investigation of crimes aided and abetted by FBI agents took Boeri to old murder scenes of Bulger victims in Oklahoma, Florida and Massachusetts. He followed detectives in the difficult and painful search for the bones of Bulger victims long ago buried. He sought out the families to learn what they had endured and sought out Bulger’s criminal associates even tracked some down who were in the Witness Protection Program to chronicle Bulger the boss and Bulger the killer. In “Bulger On Trial,” Boeri brings the reader into the same close contact with Bulger’s corrupt FBI handler, the younger brother who made a parallel rise to political power, the families, the criminals and the saga that links them all.


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The trial of James “Whitey” Bulger this summer was supposed to bring an end to one of the greatest scandals in the history of the FBI, but it dredged up a toxic swamp instead. Horrific crimes, depraved witnesses and sordid accounts of FBI agents who gave their allegiance to the mob boss emerged from the muck as families of 19 murder victims endured the presentation of brok The trial of James “Whitey” Bulger this summer was supposed to bring an end to one of the greatest scandals in the history of the FBI, but it dredged up a toxic swamp instead. Horrific crimes, depraved witnesses and sordid accounts of FBI agents who gave their allegiance to the mob boss emerged from the muck as families of 19 murder victims endured the presentation of broken skulls and jaws along with photos from the morgue. At center stage was the defendant, who had been listed and protected by the FBI as a secret informant. He claimed the government had given him a free pass, but prosecutors fought to keep the trial away from questions of who made Bulger what he became and how. In an extraordinary measure of their outrage, the families of the victims cheered Bulger’s own attorneys as they savaged the government’s “cover-up” and the deals prosecutors had given to Bulger’s former associates to win testimony. In the first book to explore the trial in a larger context, WBUR investigative reporter David Boeri weaves his daily trial dispatches into the complete backstory of Bulger’s ruthless ascent to power, the men and the agency who made that possible, and the families of victims who were victimized again and again by the government’s protection of the killer. Boeri’s storytelling is informed by 26 years of national award-winning reporting on the Bulger case. He aggressively dug into FBI corruption and tracked the Bureau’s delayed, often inept search for the 16-year fugitive. Years before Bulger was arrested in Santa Monica, Bulger travelled to California to follow his own tips in search of Whitey and showed the lack of FBI effort and enterprise. His investigation of crimes aided and abetted by FBI agents took Boeri to old murder scenes of Bulger victims in Oklahoma, Florida and Massachusetts. He followed detectives in the difficult and painful search for the bones of Bulger victims long ago buried. He sought out the families to learn what they had endured and sought out Bulger’s criminal associates even tracked some down who were in the Witness Protection Program to chronicle Bulger the boss and Bulger the killer. In “Bulger On Trial,” Boeri brings the reader into the same close contact with Bulger’s corrupt FBI handler, the younger brother who made a parallel rise to political power, the families, the criminals and the saga that links them all.

30 review for Bulger On Trial: Boston's Most Notorious Gangster And The Pursuit Of Justice

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Boeri does an excellent job of balancing what readers may already know about the Whitey Bulger saga with information necessary to understand the issues at stake in the trial. The questions about whether justice was served by convicting one man while his criminal associates received unbelievably generous deals in return for their testimony, and while the extent of corruption within government agencies that allowed Bulger to operate freely for so long remains largely uncovered, are not easy to ans Boeri does an excellent job of balancing what readers may already know about the Whitey Bulger saga with information necessary to understand the issues at stake in the trial. The questions about whether justice was served by convicting one man while his criminal associates received unbelievably generous deals in return for their testimony, and while the extent of corruption within government agencies that allowed Bulger to operate freely for so long remains largely uncovered, are not easy to answer, but definitely worthy of consideration. Boeri channels the anger of victims' families and his own frustrations in a way that gives readers a visceral reaction to the outcomes of the case. This book represents an important chapter in the history of Boston and organized crime, and an equally important chapter in the history of law enforcement and organized crime, even if the full story may never be known, and it is a powerful example of the value of public radio in providing quality journalism.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Doina Condrea

    Such a great book. It was so interesting, horrifying, unsettling. What it wasn't is surprising. Here we have the Federal Bureau of Investigation. What they really want is the LCN - La Cosa Nostra, the Italian mafia, so when they have a chance to bust Irish-American gangsters...well, I don't have to spell it out, do I? So what you end up with is dangerous, homicidal, psychopathic criminals roaming the streets of the US....sometimes Canada, sometimes vacationing in Florida resting from the exhaust Such a great book. It was so interesting, horrifying, unsettling. What it wasn't is surprising. Here we have the Federal Bureau of Investigation. What they really want is the LCN - La Cosa Nostra, the Italian mafia, so when they have a chance to bust Irish-American gangsters...well, I don't have to spell it out, do I? So what you end up with is dangerous, homicidal, psychopathic criminals roaming the streets of the US....sometimes Canada, sometimes vacationing in Florida resting from the exhausting life of crime...moving about freely thanks to allies, collaborators in all the right places who were willing to turn a blind eye under the right circumstances and for the right price.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Yes, the book is repetitive.... But if one looks at how the book is set up, it has to be that way. Boeri gives a chapter to each victim, and includes his daily dispatches from the trial. The daily dispatches repeat a lot of the earlier chapters -- because at the time they were written, there were no earlier chapters! I will admit though, that by the conclusion the repetitiveness had gotten to me enough to demote from 4 stars to 3. I was a kid in the Boston suburbs the early 80s, so while I was aw Yes, the book is repetitive.... But if one looks at how the book is set up, it has to be that way. Boeri gives a chapter to each victim, and includes his daily dispatches from the trial. The daily dispatches repeat a lot of the earlier chapters -- because at the time they were written, there were no earlier chapters! I will admit though, that by the conclusion the repetitiveness had gotten to me enough to demote from 4 stars to 3. I was a kid in the Boston suburbs the early 80s, so while I was aware of the name Whitey Bulger, and knew about the controversy with Billy Bulger, I didn't really know all the details. This book filled them all in (and then some). Its kind of hard to believe that its all true and that people really were shot in the head in the backseats of cars etc, and its not all just a product of Hollywood... After reading this, I think I'll give "The Departed" another watch - it was roughly based on Whitey...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    Diarrhea of the pen Whitey Bulgar’s decades of terror on the streets of Boston spill from the pages of the book and enlighten the reader of the corruption within the Boston’s FBI crime unit as it relates to Bulgar. The author writes the story for public broadcasting. I question if he made notes during the trial for a news story and then decided to throw all his notes together to make the book. Many of the facts and detail are repeated throughout the book making the book much longer than required Diarrhea of the pen Whitey Bulgar’s decades of terror on the streets of Boston spill from the pages of the book and enlighten the reader of the corruption within the Boston’s FBI crime unit as it relates to Bulgar. The author writes the story for public broadcasting. I question if he made notes during the trial for a news story and then decided to throw all his notes together to make the book. Many of the facts and detail are repeated throughout the book making the book much longer than required. This was so much so that I got bored reading and looked forward to the ending, which was excruciatingly long in coming.

  5. 4 out of 5

    R Fontaine

    In the first book to explore the trial in a larger context, WBUR investigative reporter David Boeri weaves his daily trial dispatches into the complete backstory of Bulger’s ruthless ascent to power, the men & the agency who made that possible, and the families of victims who were victimized again and again by the government’s protection of the killer. The FBI should have been on trial the day after Bulger was found guilty.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Steve Price

    Book repeats a lot of facts, which isn't necessary a bad thing but can be tedious at times. Interesting to read about the aspects of the trial and not just about the life and times of the criminal involved. Book repeats a lot of facts, which isn't necessary a bad thing but can be tedious at times. Interesting to read about the aspects of the trial and not just about the life and times of the criminal involved.

  7. 4 out of 5

    matthew johnston

    All about Bulger A thoroughly thought out and researched book. I can’t recommend it highly enough, well worth reading if you have any interest in crime and criminality.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Bettam

    Enjoyed it I enjoy reading true stories about past crimes and criminals in history and I would love to find more to read

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tony Parsons

    the life/times of James "Whitey" Joseph Bulger Jr. the life/times of James "Whitey" Joseph Bulger Jr.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chris Dettmar

    Pretty good detail The author does a good job of having the trial tell the story. Well organized and informative. Sad to think that the FBI misbehaved so much.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Scott Birk

    There are truly animals that live outside of the confines of a zoo. Jim "Whitey" Bulger is one of them. This book was horribly graphic as it cataloged Bulger's crime spree over many years. At the same time, it was disgusting to find out how the FBI was complicit in his crimes without any accountability. It was a disturbing, interesting read. There are truly animals that live outside of the confines of a zoo. Jim "Whitey" Bulger is one of them. This book was horribly graphic as it cataloged Bulger's crime spree over many years. At the same time, it was disgusting to find out how the FBI was complicit in his crimes without any accountability. It was a disturbing, interesting read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Glen Chern

    Journalist David Boeri gives the reader an extensive and insightful retell ins of the 2013 trial of Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger. Not only does the author describe the 19 murders Bulger was accused of participating in during a period that spanned more than a decade, he also goes into depth about the victims and impact their murders had on surviving family members. Boeri also targets the FBI and Department of Justice for their complicity in Bulger's criminal activity. My primary complain Journalist David Boeri gives the reader an extensive and insightful retell ins of the 2013 trial of Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger. Not only does the author describe the 19 murders Bulger was accused of participating in during a period that spanned more than a decade, he also goes into depth about the victims and impact their murders had on surviving family members. Boeri also targets the FBI and Department of Justice for their complicity in Bulger's criminal activity. My primary complain against the author is that he seemed compelled to repeat information frequently from one chapter to the next, especially during his recount of Bulger's trial. I found the repetitious nature of his narrative to be unnecessary and distracting.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Todd

    An okay exercise. An introductory section followed by a brief synopsis of each murder followed by the daily reports of the author during the trial. It's a bit weird as the first two sections are written in the normal past tense but the third is written in the present with words like "yesterday" and "tomorrow". Still, it's a pretty good addition to the Bulger topic. One big plus is that Boeri never forgets to push the culpability of the government in facilitating the whole crime spree and never f An okay exercise. An introductory section followed by a brief synopsis of each murder followed by the daily reports of the author during the trial. It's a bit weird as the first two sections are written in the normal past tense but the third is written in the present with words like "yesterday" and "tomorrow". Still, it's a pretty good addition to the Bulger topic. One big plus is that Boeri never forgets to push the culpability of the government in facilitating the whole crime spree and never fails to point out that once the FBI had its scapegoat (as guilty as he was) no one else was prosecuted or even investigated. Damning commentary, really.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tom Schulte

    Boeri complies here his reporting from inside the courtroom of the trial that finally brought Bulger down. This is bookended with Whitey's criminal biography and the dramatis personae and list of victims as well as a time line. it strikes me that the psychopath killer living and killing next door to his brother who rules politically all while corrupting the FBI's Connolly, etc. Well, someone should produce an opera on this! I found it particularly chilling how Bulger was descriped as leaping, spi Boeri complies here his reporting from inside the courtroom of the trial that finally brought Bulger down. This is bookended with Whitey's criminal biography and the dramatis personae and list of victims as well as a time line. it strikes me that the psychopath killer living and killing next door to his brother who rules politically all while corrupting the FBI's Connolly, etc. Well, someone should produce an opera on this! I found it particularly chilling how Bulger was descriped as leaping, spider-link onto the victims he killed personally and them becomes relaxed, calm, and passive after.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    David Boeri has written a good account of Bulger and the shenanigans of the F.B.I. a lot of investigation on his part,he has won twenty-five national, regional and local awards for his reporting on organized crime, legal issues, the environment, politics and corruption. This book is repetitive in some places, but repetitive for the reader to establish time lines and place where/what each person doing at the time. that David Boeri is telling the reader about. Very well written and an eye opener to t David Boeri has written a good account of Bulger and the shenanigans of the F.B.I. a lot of investigation on his part,he has won twenty-five national, regional and local awards for his reporting on organized crime, legal issues, the environment, politics and corruption. This book is repetitive in some places, but repetitive for the reader to establish time lines and place where/what each person doing at the time. that David Boeri is telling the reader about. Very well written and an eye opener to the public who place their trust in the people who uphold the law. well worth the read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kim R.

    Crime does pay at times and Justice is crooked as the criminal very detailed in just about all notes to the case of Bulger. I wished that Mr. Boer gave more insight to the families that lost family members during and after the court hearing. It was a good read when certain news stories was giving their cliff notes in reporting of this trail. To where Mr. Boer gave the meat and potatoes to this story.

  17. 4 out of 5

    David

    The real Whitey Bugler of the film "The Departed" First-person study of a Boston reporter's decades-long coverage of Whitey Bugler, whose exploits were loosely chronicled in the Martin Scorsese film "The Departed". The real Whitey Bugler of the film "The Departed" First-person study of a Boston reporter's decades-long coverage of Whitey Bugler, whose exploits were loosely chronicled in the Martin Scorsese film "The Departed".

  18. 5 out of 5

    Anita Hargreaves

    Fantastic book I was amazed this book was free, after half an hour I was gripped, well written informative and felt I was a witness at the trial. Read in one go as I couldn't put it down Fantastic book I was amazed this book was free, after half an hour I was gripped, well written informative and felt I was a witness at the trial. Read in one go as I couldn't put it down

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kareem

    Reading this book reinforces the impression that bad people just don't care, they know they're bad and they're doing bad things, but they refuse to show concern for all the people they harm. This author tells the story very vividly, and appreciate the commitment he puts into it. Reading this book reinforces the impression that bad people just don't care, they know they're bad and they're doing bad things, but they refuse to show concern for all the people they harm. This author tells the story very vividly, and appreciate the commitment he puts into it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Solomon Wabacha Kihang'a

    Bulger Gives a good insight into the criminal mind. Though the story was hard to follow. All over the place in my opinion.

  21. 5 out of 5

    David Batterson

    Could have been a great book but it was so poorly edited that it was impossible to follow!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Barbie

    Great book. Love that a news reporter wrote it, great glossary at the end, wish I had noticed it prior to reading so I could flip back and forth for reference.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I got this as a free download on Amazon. Boeri did a great job breaking down the history. it's amazing to think all of that was able to go on so blatently and recently. I got this as a free download on Amazon. Boeri did a great job breaking down the history. it's amazing to think all of that was able to go on so blatently and recently.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Zane Sterling

    Excellent Book. Highly Recommended! If you enjoy organized crime books, you'll enjoy this one. An amazing account of a very twisted character operating inside a very corrupt system! Excellent Book. Highly Recommended! If you enjoy organized crime books, you'll enjoy this one. An amazing account of a very twisted character operating inside a very corrupt system!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Frank Roberto

    This was a very good book with a lot of information, most of which I didn't know. To me it was a fast read in a day when the weather wasn't to nice. This was a very good book with a lot of information, most of which I didn't know. To me it was a fast read in a day when the weather wasn't to nice.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Mynahan

    Good This book was very informative. Did an excellent job in explaining the case. Great research. I highly recommend for those that like true crime material.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    Excellent account of the crimes and eventual trial of notorious James "Whitey" Bulger and the Boston FBI agents who protected him. Excellent account of the crimes and eventual trial of notorious James "Whitey" Bulger and the Boston FBI agents who protected him.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Julia Woltz

    it's repetitive... u can read the first 4 chapters and know the whole book it's repetitive... u can read the first 4 chapters and know the whole book

  29. 5 out of 5

    Doreen Petersen

    Not surprised at all with Whitey's conviction. Disappointed that he was not convicted of all of the 19 murders he committed. No matter what Whitey claims he was a rat of the lowest form. Not surprised at all with Whitey's conviction. Disappointed that he was not convicted of all of the 19 murders he committed. No matter what Whitey claims he was a rat of the lowest form.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Evelyn Mattice

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