Thursday, May 5, 2016
Throwback Thursday: Black Mass:The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob by Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill
Authors: Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill
First published in 2000 by Harper Perennial
John Connolly and James "Whitey" Bulger grew up together on the streets of South Boston. Decades later, in the mid-1970s, 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.Compellingly 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.
With the release of the movie Black Mass late last year, I thought I would give this book a try. I have watched and read a lot of things about Whitey Bulger in the past. Living in Massachusetts, one cannot avoid the hearing the name of the infamous gangster. But, I had never really followed how the FBI was involved in this whole shebang.
Black Mass is the telling of how a corrupt FBI agent who actually grew up with Whitey, gave him carte blanche to the criminal world in return for being an "Informant". I use the term loosely, because I'm not convinced much of what Whitey gave the FBI as information actually did any good. I am amazed and equally disgusted at how much Bulger and his fellow mobster, Stephen Flemy got away with. People died because the FBI failed to inform them they were being targeted. The corruption within the Boston branch of the federal agency is astounding.
I do recommend reading this one. While it is slow in parts, I felt like the writers gave us a through accounting of what happened. The audio version that I listened to has an updated epilogue and notes from the authors that tells of Whitey's capture and subsequent conviction.