Rat Bastards and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more

Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering.
More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

Start reading Rat Bastards on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Rat Bastards: The South Boston Irish Mobster Who Took the Rap When Everyone Else Ran [Paperback]

John "Red" Shea
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: 8.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
Only 1 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
Want it tomorrow, 22 Aug.? Choose Express delivery at checkout. Details


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition 5.99  
Paperback 8.99  

Book Description

1 Feb 2007

John "Red" Shea, 40, was a top lieutenant in the South Boston Irish mob run, led by James "Whitey" Bulger. An ice–cold enforcer with a red–hot temper, Shea was a legend among his peers in the 1990s South Boston, as much as John Gotti, Bugsy Siegel, and Al Capone were in their time and place. When the actor and producer Mark Wahlberg, raised in nearby Dorchester, learned of a script based on Shea's life circulating in Hollywood, he immediately committed to playing the gangster on screen. A major feature film project is now in development.

From the age of thirteen, when he started robbing delivery trucks, to the age of twenty–seven, when he began serving a twelve–year federal sentence for drug trafficking, Shea was a portrait in American crime – a bantam–weight, red–headed terror, brutal with his fists and deadly with a lead pipe, a baseball bat, or a knife. At fifteen he was selling marijuana . At seventeen he was handling Bulger's cocaine. At eighteen he was loan sharking and laundering Bulger's money. At twenty, initiated into Bulger's inner circle at the point of an Uzi, he was running a multimillion–dollar narcotics operation for his mentor.

RAT BASTARDS was the first–ever, firsthand account of mob life that wasn't told by a rat. Red Shea did his crime, then did his time––and never informed, unlike Henry Hill of Wiseguy, Sammy "The Bull" Gravano of Underboss, and so many others. Holding fast to the code of his upbringing, he remained a man of honor.

Frequently Bought Together

Rat Bastards: The South Boston Irish Mobster Who Took the Rap When Everyone Else Ran + Brutal: The Untold Story of My Life Inside Whitey Bulger's Irish Mob + The Brothers Bulger: How They Terrorised and Corrupted Boston for a Quarter of a Century
Price For All Three: 26.97

Buy the selected items together

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (1 Feb 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061232890
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061232893
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13.5 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 417,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description


“...a slick read dripping with the underworld holy trinity of sex, drugs, and violence...a bawdy page-turner.” (Publishers Weekly)

“...the hottest Irish-American mob story of all time.” (Liz Smith, New York Post)

“...dish-a-thon on Whitey Bulger.” (Boston Herald)

“...the only memoir told from the perspective of a mobster who refused to betray the code of silence.” (The Improper Bostonian)

About the Author

John "Red" Shea, forty, completed his twelve-year federal prison sentence in 2002 and is now living on the right side of the law and working in Boston, Massachusetts.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

4 star
3 star
2 star
3.0 out of 5 stars
3.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Wow.....I would recommend this book for the sheer cringe factor of the opening 6-7 pages alone. Never have I read something so conceited and arrogant.....and so obviously exaggerated. At one point he's declaring he has such a large appendage that the two asian prostitutes he is with are screaming how big he is (after an hour of intercourse....after 12 years in prison).
However, once you get through this awful opening, the rest is interesting if this is your thing. I do love the way that the one thing that he considers makes him a man - not "ratting" - is exactly what he is doing by selling his life story. Hypocritical doesn't quite describe it. Whoever the Editor was that decided this was a winning story must have air where their brains are meant to be.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable 7 Sep 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Really well written book, well worth the money,Red didnt suffer fools gladly and stuck by his principles, pity more of the "main men" can,t do the same.
The Fighting Irish right enough.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  27 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A familiar story 5 Aug 2010
By Anthony Bruno - Published on Amazon.com
Shea's story could have been subtitled the Making of a Tough Guy. A tough upbringing makes him a tough kid. He gets noticed by established tough guys who see his criminal potential and further his development. It's a powerful story but one we've read and seen many times before. Shea takes pride in the fact that he never ratted anyone out, a clear jab at Boston crime boss Whitey Bulger's sidekick, Kevin "Two" Weeks, who took just that long to turn state's witness when he got jammed up. Like many other criminal memoirists, Shea is reluctant to reveal the specifics of crimes committed, obviously to avoid further prosecution. RAT BASTARDS isn't an awful book; it's just not the best of its genre.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ironic Timing 23 Jun 2011
By Andrew Needel - Published on Amazon.com
I was just finishing this book when I read the news about the Feds finally nabbing Whitey in California. I'm sure Red can't wait to see he White Rat get what he has coming to him, though I'm sure he'd rather smack the bejeezus out of him himself than let the Feds try to squeeze what they can out of an octogenarian.

The book has been a quick and easy read. A whole lot of chest thumping from Red. I wish there were a few deep dark stories, but it sort of got lost in prison life. I guess that's the chronology of the story and the whole book is only a couple hundred pages or so.

Anyhow...I've enjoyed it for what it is.
16 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well what did you expect from a self-described criminal ? 5 Mar 2007
By Marianne Frye - Published on Amazon.com
I saw this book and was interested because of the movie The Departed. I saw it in the theatre, and then got the DVD when it came out. Because I am from the area, I knew The Departed was about Whitey Bulger, more than some movie remake of Internal Affairs.

Up until now I had resisted the other books about Whitey and the Irish mob in Southie. This one just looked more interesting, and hit me at the right time.

I have read the other reviews for the hardcover, especially those who are from Southie. It seems people either love it or hate it, and him. I am more lukewarm about the book. I don't have any inside knowledge to tell if he was telling it straight, or making it up.

I thought the writing was ok, not great, but not awful. I imagine his writer was trying to keep the tone and structure true to how Shea speaks. It was a quick read, and a bit engaging, though not a real page turner to me.

I thought that there was a real lack of self-reflection from Shea for the most part. He was just as brash in his story as he was in life. He says this is what I did, this is the surface reason why, deal with it. Very rarely does he dig beneath that.

Other than the prison stories he is very vague about what he did, or what his activities were for Whitey. As he says he followed Whitey's advice about never letting someone else have anything to hold over you. But even without that you shouldn't expect anything specific from him in the book because: 1.) Anything that didn't come out in his trial, he could probably still be prosecuted for; 2.) He says he is not a rat, and so he won't tell anything about anyone else, that isn't already known; 3.) he doesn't want to get those who are guilty in trouble with the law, or make them feel a need to come after him.

What you do get is the sense that he never really grew up. He does want to prove continually how tough he is, and after all the others ratted out, that he is not a rat, but better than the others. He comes from that odd group of males who think that they still should act like teenage jerks, even when fully grown. By choosing to be a perpetual child he also throws away any chance for a real happy life, when he won't commit to Penelope. He gives up a wife, a family, and a home. He is probably too scared of that type of work, and risk. Rather he wants to follow the movie image of the tough-guy gangster, and take the easy way out. Its an empty image that he has opted for, rather than a real life. Its actually sad.

Yes what he did in terms of selling drugs, and being a criminal is bad. He doesn't really care, and he never says he is sorry. He feels bad for the accidental innocent people he hurt, but he never considers the families of his marks/victims/customers, as innocents whom he hurt all the time.

I think the book says just as much about him indirectly as it does with his input. It was a quick, interesting read. I wouldn't buy it in hardcover, but think paper is ok, and maybe borrowing from the Library is the best.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rather Mindless 16 Oct 2007
By Bradley F. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
John "Red" Shea spends his life making sure he is a "man." To him, this means beating up anyone who doesn't conform to his macho teenage code learned on the mean streets of Southie. One would think Shea would have learned a few lessons about maturity after 12 years in federal prison. You don't get that impression after reading his memoir, which is one of several by members of Whitey Bulger's former gang. Shea takes pride in being the only one not to 'rat,' an act akin to him of the lowest human order. His tale will be glorified by Mark Wahlberg in an upcoming film, evidently. It will make a good movie. But as real life, it's just a waste. The book is a decent read, not as good as some of the others in this genre. It doesn't really take off until the middle when he finally reaches the stage where he becomes Whitey's "protege," as a drug dealer. The prison section is interesting, too. If you like tales of human depravity and bleakness, you'll eat this one up.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rat Bastards by John (Red) Shea 18 April 2014
By TWM102 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I found this book to be one of the most accurate of all the books I've read on or about James Whitey Bulger. Shea sounded like a stand up guy who lived by his convictions. Yes he was a thug and a criminal, but in my 25 years in law enforcement I have found stand up people come from all walks of life. I enjoyed this writing much better than some reporter who just has his own agenda and doesn't always write the truth. Yes, there have been some good books by reporters. Black Mass bring one of them. The reporter I'm talking about has written many books on this subject. The $$$$$, seems to be the driving force and not the truth. Bulger was probably one of the worst criminals Boston and South Boston has had or will have. He lived a lie, and Shea told that story as well as his own. I would recommend Rat Bastards to anyone who wants to read a factual account of South Boston. Amazon has about the best selection of writings on this subject.
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category