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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No Longer Number One!, 28 Mar 2013
prisrob "pris," (New England USA) - See all my reviews
Deborah Davis, the lovely, young girlfriend of Steve Flemmi got into her Mercedes convertible and drove to her death. She knew too much and talked too much and James Whitey Bulger wasn't having it. He killed her, had Flemmi pull out her teeth and bury her. There, that was the end of that problem. And, so, Whitey Bulger was protecting his life of crime, murder, greed and mayhem, nothing could touch him, now.

The authors, Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill have followed Whitey, the Boston Mafia, the Winter Hill Gang from the beginning of their careers. This is the third in the trilogy of books where the life of Whitey has been highlighted. This book is the most detailed and gives us a fascinating look into the beginning of the Bulger family, their journey from Ireland to South Boston. Whitey is a name to be reckoned with in Southie, as it is in Boston, and across the US and the world after Whitey made his run and the FBI took a more than ten year look for him.

Along the way we meet the people Whitey invited into his life, his cronies, his men, his family, his women. We learn about his son by an early love. We meet the FBI who became part of Whitey's crew, the State Police who were paid handsomely to protect Whitey. All along Whitey's life there was always someone who stepped up to protect him. He did serve a long prison sentence for armed robbery, but he got out of one mess after the other with relative ease. We also meet up front and personal, the people he killed or had killed, nineteen people, died at the hands of Whitey Bulger. He either planned the deaths or caused the deaths, himself. He had a temper, and Whitey had to learn how to manage it. At one time in prison, Whitey took part in research trials with LSD, and he thought that might be a reason for his temper, his hallucinations and his bad dreams. But, it appears, Whitey is a psychopath, who has no regret for his actions.

Whitey ran a superb crime organization for many years in South Boston. He eliminated his competition, one by one. He usually killed them. He had an FBI informant, John Connelly, who would tell him when someone was after him. Connelly would warn him of traps by other police departments, and, in the end, he warned Whitey it was time to get out of town. Of note, John Connelly, was convicted of several crimes and is spending time in prison. As one reads this book, there was a time in Boston when it appeared that every type of police force that were hired to protect citizens, were in reality, protecting Whitey. Nothing was sacred.

Whitey Bulger left Boston with his long time girlfriend, Catherine Grieg. They ended up in Santa Monica, California, where they lived a life of seclusion as a couple with many different identities. They either bought or stole the identities. During the years, Whitey had hidden money all over the world, so money was no object. The FBI seemed lost in their old ways and the hunt for Whitey was not a number one priority. It was not until Osama Bin laden was killed, that Whitey Bulger moved his way to the top of the list, The Number One Most Wanted Man in the US, that things started to change. The hunt for Whitey and his capture is the most exhilarating, and I will leave that up to you to discover.

Lehr and O'Neill have written a fast paced, comprehensive, and compelling story of Whitey Bulger. As a native of New England, I have had a long fascination with Whitey Bulger. His capture was exciting. I had read the first two books of the trilogy about Whitey, and I thought I knew most everything about him. I was astonished to read about his forebears from Ireland and his life that led to the apartment in Santa Monica. This is a book not to be missed.

Recommended. prisrob 03-28-13
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 7 Jun 2013
This review is from: Whitey Bulger: America's Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him to Justice (Hardcover)
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.
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