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Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy…

Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the… (edition 2001)

by Dick Lehr, Gerard O'Neill (Author)

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3971227,024 (3.7)8
Title:Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob
Authors:Dick Lehr
Other authors:Gerard O'Neill (Author)
Info:Harper Perennial (2001), Paperback, 424 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Boston, History, True Crime

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Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance between the FBI and the Irish Mob by Dick Lehr


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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
Black Mass has been sitting on my bookshelf for quite a while, I was looking for a third book about Jimmy “Whitey” Bulger written by Dick Lehr, I have “Whitey” and have been trying to find “Underboss”. Then I saw the movie “Black Mass” (starring: Johnny Depp and Benedict Cumberbatch as the Bulger brothers and Joel Edgerton as John Connolly, former FBI agent) was scheduled to be released in September 2015. I decided I had to read the book before I saw the movie, which I desperately want to see (I haven’t seen it yet, I have seen “Pawn Sacrifice” and “Steve Jobs”).

In 1988 Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill started to write a story for the Boston Globe about the Bulger Brothers, Jimmy and Billy. One was Boston’s most powerful criminal and Billy was the most powerful politician (which some might say is the same, but hey he never killed anyone, that we know of). In the course of the investigation, they discovered that Jimmy Bulger seemed to be made of teflon, since 1965, while he climbed the ranks of Boston underworld from street soldier to boss, he had not been arrested, not once. He seemed to know when the authorities were closing in on him. He knew about wiretaps. Some in law enforcement felt ‘the fix was in’ even so far as ‘the FBI had secretly provided him cover all these years’. But there was no proof. Mobsters hated informants, this was the world Whitey Bulger lived in. In the end however, the FBI had to come clean, Bulger and Flemmi (Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi) had been informants for over 20 years.

The first meeting between John Connolly, FBI agent and Jimmy Bulger was in 1975, Flemmi was already an informant at this time, had already experienced the protection the FBI could offer, he was never questioned about his criminal activities, even the murders he may or may not have committed. When asked, he told Bulger “Go talk to him.” The deal was made, and the fix was in. There is more to this story than two mob guys being informants and more FBI involvement than one agent covering up. Connolly covered Flemmi and Bulger, other agents covered him. There was a massive head in the sand approach to what was going on. The truth started to come out in 1997, 10 months later after sworn testimony and the opening of secret FBI files the Boston FBI office was revealed to be a gigantic stack of shit. This book tells it all.

Detailed with extensive documentation this books read like a too good to be true Godfather book, except its true, and it’s fascinating. I recommend this to true crime fans in particular fans of mafia books. ( )
  BellaFoxx | Oct 25, 2015 |
My daughter gave me this book for Xmas because of my interest in Irish-American history. I was really impressed with the legwork these former reporters did in order to get the story, and even more impressed with the even more extensive legwork that the detectives and policemen needed to do in order to curtail the activities of Whitey Bulger and his many partners in crime.

A fascinating look at how the good guys and the bad guys operate. ( )
  rmkelly | Dec 9, 2013 |
Whitey Bulger is a bad man.

The writing style was rather cheesy and melodramatic at times, but the story was very interesting. ( )
  KristySP | Apr 21, 2013 |
The book for anyone who wants to understand this chapter in Boston history. I re-read it after James "Whitey" Bulger was arrested and it was still excellent. It would be interesting if they wrote a follow-up about the trial and all the legal manuvering. ( )
  Maya47Bob46 | Jan 12, 2013 |
I should like this! It's a book with true crime, mind-blowing intrigue, violence, unimaginable corruption of values that ought to be inviolable, and platters and platters of Italian food. What's not to like?

Quite a bit, unfortunately. The series of articles that ran in the Boston Globe - the meat of the book - actually appears in the middle, starting with a chapter called Murder, Inc. (at least that's the first one I recognized). The beginning is a long, slow buildup added to flesh out the book. If you can survive the opening chapters, and keep track of the characters involved (the author annoyingly alternates between last names, first names, and mob names, tripling the number of things you have to memorize just to follow along), you'll certainly know everything there is to know about how Whitey Bulger neutralized every law enforcement agency that set out to bring him down.

But with Whitey in the news, it's good to read, even if it's got some slow bits. ( )
  spacecommuter | Jul 18, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
From Judas Iscariot to Linda Tripp, there have been few figures more reviled than the double-crossing informer. Jews recite a daily prayer imploring God to deny informers any hope of redemption in the world to come. Among the Irish, there is no lower form of life. Sean O'Callaghan, who informed against the I.R.A., wrote that he had been brought up to believe that it would be ''better by far to be a rapist, a murderer, anything but an informer.''

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O'Neill, Gerardmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060959258, Paperback)

In the spring of 1988, Boston Globe reporters Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill set out to write the story of two infamous brothers from the insular Irish enclave of South Boston: Jim "Whitey" Bulger and his younger brother Billy. Whitey was the city's most powerful gangster and a living legend--tough, cunning, without conscience, and above all, smart. Billy, president of the state Senate, was a political heavyweight in Massachusetts. These facts alone make for an intriguing story, but as Lehr and O'Neill found out, this was only the beginning.

John Connolly, a rising FBI agent and fellow "Southie," had known the Bulgers since boyhood when Whitey rescued him from a playground fight. After investigating organized crime in New York, Connolly was reassigned to the bureau's Boston office in 1975, and was determined to make a name for himself by relying on his old connections. He succeeded in a big way by lining up Whitey as an FBI informant in an effort to bring down the Italian Mafia--a major coup for both the FBI and Connolly. In exchange, Bulger received protection. Though heavily involved in extortion, intimidation, assassination, and drug trafficking, Connolly's "good bad guy" did not receive so much as a traffic infraction for over 20 years. In time, however, the deal changed, and information began flowing the other direction, with Bulger manipulating Connolly and a small group of corrupt FBI agents to further his nefarious network. The criminals and the lawmen eventually became virtually indistinguishable.

Black Mass expertly details the twists and turns of this complex story, painting a vivid portrait of Boston's underbelly and its inclusive political machine, as well as exposing one of the worst scandals in FBI history. It's also an examination of loyalty--to family, home, and heritage--and "a cautionary tale about the abuse of power that goes unchecked." As a final favor, Connolly tipped off Bulger that he was to be indicted on racketeering charges in 1995, allowing him time to go on the lam (he's reported to have access to secret bank accounts across the country). He was added to the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted List" in 1999. --Sharon M. Brown

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:10 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

John Connoly and James "Whitey" Bulger grew up together on the streets of South Boston. Decades later, in the mid 1970's, they would meet again. By then, Connolly was a major figure in the FBI's Boston office and Whitey had become godfather of the Irish Mob. What happened next--a dirty deal to bring down the Italian mob in exchange for protection for Bulger--would spiral out of control, leading to murders, drug dealing, racketeering indictments, and, ultimately, the biggest informant scandal in the history of the FBI. As told by two Boston Globe reporters who were on the case from the beginning, Black Mass is at once a riveting crime story, a cautionary tale about the abuse of power, and a penetrating look at Boston and its Irish population.--From publisher description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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