Black Mass The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between

Black Mass The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob 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 being 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 FBICompellingly 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


10 thoughts on “Black Mass The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob

  1. Brina Brina says:

    Earlier this year I for the first time read Mario Puzo's iconic The Godfather and then watched the trilogy of films A genre changing experience Puzo glorified organized crime while also bringing underworld dealings out of the shadows Following the publication of this now modern classic book a myriad of books and films featuring the mafia emerged Last week I noticed a goodreads friend Becky had reviewed Black Mass the true story of a deal between Irish mobsters and their FBI handlers written by Boston Globe reporters Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill Having had a positive experience with The Godfather I decided to piue my interest and read about the dirty dealings of the Boston crime underworldThe South Boston neighborhood has long been considered a poor younger sibling to its swanky northern Boston locales Long populated by generations of Irish immigrants ties to the neighborhood run deeper than blood With the catholic church schools and Irish towns of origins being ethnic markers gangs uickly formed among the neighborhood boys As Southie fathers worked long hours at blue collar jobs to support growing families and mothers relegated to the role of homemaker boys joining gangs became a rite of passage in which they may have experienced love and attention than they did in their home life As the middle brother in a family of six children James Whitey Bulger soon found a 'home' in Howie Winter's Winter Hill gang uickly rising through the ranks Bulger's persona soon grew to legend proportions in his South Boston Irish neighborhood His charismatic albeit pushy personality caught the attention of many younger kids including one John Connelly The two Southie natives would be linked for the rest of their long tumultuous livesIt is 1975 Having finally been transferred to the Boston office of the FBI following a stint in Manhattan John Connelly is assigned to handle the wheelings and dealings between the Irish and Italian mafia With Irish leader Howie Winter on the lam and members of the Italian Angiulo targeted by the feds or imprisoned Whitey Bulger and his go to pal Stevie Flemmi look to fill the power vacuum and take over the Boston underworld With one of his own now entrenched in the FBI office Bulger was ripe to take over as the crime king of Beantown Soon a deal followed with Bulger and Flemmi becoming key FBI informants to Connelly and his superior officers including John Morris In exchange for information on a whos who list of Boston Mafioso personalities Bulger and Flemmi would go on to enjoy immunity from indictment for the next thirty yearsIn all Bulger and Flemmi would go on to be involved with every crime imaginable including drug trafficking money laundering and extortion and having a hand in twenty one murders over a twenty year period With the unwritten South Boston rule against ratting a fellow Southie to the authorities the two would operate in broad daylight and little could be done to stop their rise to power Each time the FBI moved toward a conviction Connelly would tip off the pair and like clockwork they would disappear Additionally should any South Boston family man uestion Bulger's authority he would conveniently be put out of business or worse found to be disappeared within days The case of Stephen and Julie Rakes' South Boston Liuor store epitomizes how Bulger and his underlings would threaten decent citizens until they got the result that they desired and would stop at nothing short of murder to get what they wanted In short Bulger was the feared underworld king of BostonBulger and Flemmi might still be operating today if it was not for a chance meeting between ousted FBI operative John Morris and Boston Globe reporter Dick Lehr an author of this book Hinting that Bulger had long been used as an informant Lehr O'Neill and a team of reporters slowly started a fact finding mission to uncover the dirt on Bulger As word started to leak out Bulger's grip on the Boston's underworld started to unravel and he found himself on the lam as had many of his mafia bosses before him Fingers started to point as Bulger Flemmi Connelly and Morris all blamed each other for the corruption and none were willing to talk to authorities until they were guaranteed full immunity and absolved from wrong doing Despite believing the opposite none of the four key operatives found himself to be above the law when indictments fell Black Mass has been reissued four times and has been made into a movie starring Johnny Depp and Kevin Bacon If it is as thrilling as the book I should be in for a fun ride Lehr and O'Neill have penned Black Mass in thrilling fashion in the style of old fashioned journalism that is sure to fall by the wayside as newspapers continue to decline It is through their efforts that the Boston Irish mafia finally got their due in court and saw key players brought to justice uoting The Godfather on than one occasion Lehr and O'Neill did not forget to remind readers that this is unfortunately a true story albeit molded after the iconic Corleone principle of omerta As ties still run strong in South Boston the FBI continues to be on high alert for suspicious underworld activities occurring there Black Mass was a thrilling way to spend a gloomy December weekend and I look forward to revisiting this story on film4 stars


  2. Becky Becky says:

    I was absolutely glued to this book after the first 30 pages where the South Boston scene is set I know jack about south Boston I'm not really drawn to books about crime but this is book was immaculately researched and wholly unbelievable and yet its all true I think its an especially important book as you see the evolution of wiretapping and information gathering culminating in today's Patriot Act A good book to devour


  3. Nancy Oakes Nancy Oakes says:

    The scene is Boston starting in the 1970s The FBI has made it a top priority to clamp down on organized crime in this case the Mafia populated by the Italians of North Boston John Connolly a very young FBI agent is called to the Boston office to work in the Organized Crime unit The idea was that if he could find someone to rat out the Italians the FBI's job would be made much easier Connolly begins to cultivate James Whitey Bulger a former acuaintance from Connolly's old neighborhood in South Boston Bulger was a career criminal beginning his future occupation as a young boy and he and one of his associates Steve Flemmi had ties to the Italian mob in Boston Whitey was also part of a gang in Southie He became an informant for the FBI and in return he was given protection by the FBI His information was very helpful and did help to put away some of the Mafia guys but in the meantime he also gave info on anyone in South Boston that he considered might be standing in his own way as he rose up through the ranks of the criminal underworld The authors Lehr and O'Neill used a variety of first hand sources to not only write this book but to break the entire story in the Boston Globe What they examine here is basically the true cost of the information provided by Bulger While he's giving them good information he's also being allowed to literally get away with murder I won't go further into this book but I picked it up the other night and could hardly put it down once I started I guarantee you that if you have an interest in organized crime this is a no miss story I would like to say that I was appalled by the sheer abuse of power from members of an institution created to protect the American public but frankly it's getting harder and harder to be surprised any Very well written and very taut; I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in organized crime the FBI in the so called Irish Mob in the United States or in true crime in general


  4. Grace Grace says:

    When I was in my early teens I had an unhealthy obsession with the mafia I read every single book Mario Puzo wrote The Way of the Wiseguy Joey Pistone's Donnie Brasco among other mafia books Reading Black Mass was like returning to an old friend but I'm a no longer a pre teen I now know that besides just protecting their family the people in the mafia actually killed some people who were not bad guys See as a kid I figured that they just killed each other and since they were bad guys no harm no fowl Reading Black Mass was agonizing because you saw it getting worse You read about the bad guys get away with all sorts of shit and the FBI get dirtier and dirtier and dirtier I had to keep reading but it got pretty disgusting Yuck Glad that I revisited the genre and I can safely say that my secret career plan is no longer to join a family Also right after I finished reading it I heard on NPR that Whitey Bulger was finally caught If yo have an unhealthy fascination with the mafia read this book but otherwise just read the Wiki article


  5. Emily Emily says:

    Too much FBI not enough gangsters


  6. Megan Megan says:

    Great research Awesome insight Saw the movie and wanted so much Fascinating to see just how corrupt the law enforcement really was The rise and fall of the BulgerFlemmi empire


  7. Lady ♥ Belleza Lady ♥ Belleza says:

    Black Mass has been sitting on my bookshelf for uite 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 seeIn 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 yearsThe 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 uestioned 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 to this story than two mob guys being informants and 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 allDetailed 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


  8. Samantha Samantha says:

    For any reader looking for a dramatic engrossing true crime story this one is fantastic It is well organized well written and because of Whitey's recent capture well timed well the book has been edited since his capture; it originally came out well beforeI won't say much except that the BulgerFlemmi alliance with the Boston FBI is a story that should have been made up How a relationship this corrupt could have happened and happened for so long is just grossdespicableinfuriatingyou name it And I'm not naive; I doubt Boston is that clean right now but I'd like to believe I live and work in a less corrupt town than the one that's described in this bookOn a related note knowing about the Whitey case only disappoints me that Billy Bulger won't follow his brother to prison I think the pair both deserve severe punishment for different yet overlapping reasons Not only am I convinced that Billy knew exactly what his brother was doing for decades and lied and lied and lied about it I am positive that he did nothing to deter what he saw heard or knew because his brother's bullying extortion and executions benefited him it gave him absolute power of Boston from every angle Lastly I want to share my biggest fear which is not that Whitey will go free but that his evilness is almost iconic enough and cool enough to get him out of the level of trouble and isolation he deserves


  9. Robert Palmer Robert Palmer says:

    This book is a fascinating topic of the FBI John Connolly getting in bed with the MOB Whitey Bulge and it took the justice department about 20 years to figure it out and finally bringing both Men before the court I do believe that the Authors spent a lot of time researching the lives of both Menwho both grew up in South Boston and formed a partnership that as the title of the book tells us a devils deal it reminded me of an old saying the devil is in the details However no matter how much researching they did the writing was not very goodin chapter after chapter they told the same story over and over again I began to think they were getting paid by word just like publishers of Pulp fiction used to do


  10. wally wally says:

    finished yesterday 6th of may 2020 good read three stars liked it kindle library loaner chronicle of the fabled effa bee eye and whitey bulger corruption that continued to decades and by now their corruption should be evident to all string the bastards up add sedition to the charges put a hood over their sorry face and hang them from poles


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