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Black Mass: Whitey Bulger, the FBI, and a Devil's Deal Paperback – May 22, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

Review

* Black Mass succeeds admirably in showing just how fragile FBI integrity can be when the good guys lose sight of the truth, the rules, and the law Washington Post * A jaw-dropping, true-life tale of how two thugs corrupted the FBI Baltimore Sun * Black Mass should prompt a reevaluation of the uses and misuses of informers by law-enforcement officials throughout the country New York Times Book Review * A work of rare lucidity, high drama, journalistic integrity and plain courage -- James Carroll, author of An American Requiem --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill are former reporters with the Boston Globe, and co-authors of Whitey: The Life of America's Most Notorious Mob Boss. O'Neill has won the Pulitzer, Hancock and Loeb Prizes. Lehr, a Pulitzer finalist, has also won the Hancock and Loeb awards. He currently is a professor of journalism at Boston University, where he is a codirector of an investigative reporting clinic.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; First Trade Paper Edition edition (May 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610391098
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610391092
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (292 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,128 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 56 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
At first it seems like pure fiction: One of Boston's most notorious mobsters, who also happens to be the brother of one of Massachusetts' most powerful politicians, spends more than a decade as a secret informant for the FBI. And, using his informant status as a shield, he grows his criminal empire and commits just about every crime on the books, including murder. As incredible as it sounds, it's all true and it's all here, and it's better than fiction. This is a powerfully written narrative by two prize-winning investigative reporters who covered the story and revealed some of its most dramatic elements. By combining their powerful reporting skills with rich writing flair, Lehr and O'Neill bring readers into the heart of darkness. They show how a relationship that began among children in the housing projects of South Boston evolved into a corrupt deal among dangerous adults that ultimately humiliated the nation's top law-enforcement agency and extended the reign of some of the very mobsters the FBI was supposed to eradicate. The book moves seamlessly from the streets and storerooms of Boston, to the corridors of political power, to the ornate federal courthouse where the deal comes crashing down.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
"Black Mass" is the chilling account of how two killers from South Boston were able to manipulate the FBI for a period of decades. James"Whitey" Bulger and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi were legendary wiseguys in Boston during the 1970s. John Connolly a childhood acquaintance of Bulger's who made good and joined the Boston FBI. When Connolly hooked up with the tough guy from his old neighborhood things began to go awry.
Connolly was awed by his friendship with Bulger and used his contact in the underworld as proof of his prowess as an agent. For their part Bulger and Flemmi were able to pass along innocuous mob gossip to the Feds in exchange for protection form local law enforcement. Carefully placed tidbits of information helped the FBI to arrest enemies of the Bulger gang. With each arrest Whitey and Flemmi were able to expand their own power base. Those people who complained to the police were inevitably redirected to the FBI. Once the bureau had its hands on a case, the stonewalling began. This was a cycle that continued from the late 60s up until the mid 90s. During this period the `invaluable informants' provided little of substance to their `handlers'. However the agents were able to cook the reports and win commendations and promotions for themselves. At the same time, over a dozen murders are directly attributed to the pair.
If there is honor among thieves you can't prove it from this book. "Black Mass" is a shocking story of deceit and corruption within Boston law enforcement, politics and organized crime. It is almost impossible to describe the level of hubris on the part of the crooks who were protected by the FBI and those very agents who cosseted the killers in order to advance their own careers.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Mcgivern Owen L on September 6, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The plot of "Black Mass" revolves around a fateful decision by the Boston FBI concerning the so-called Irish Mafia of South Boston and its infamous boss-the notorious James "Whitey" Bulger. The FBI was so eager to break up the local Italian Mafia that, for years it used Whitey as a confidential informant. Was there a payback? There certainly was: Whitey was allowed to run his bookmaking, loan sharking, shake downs and other criminal activities without serious interference from law enforcement. Were there "complications"? There certainly were: Apart from obvious slippery morality behind the FBI operation, certain local agents get "slightly too cozy" with Whitey and his right hand man, Stevie "The Rifleman" Flemmi. There is a great nickname! I won't divulge what happens but suffice it to say that a sharp eyed-or was it sharp eared? -Defense attorney unravels the deal. Is justice ultimately done? The reader will just have to find out by him or herself! Fair warning: the epilogue fails to tie up all loose ends. BM reads as if it were two stories. The early going is uneven, choppy and routine. Then BM finds its' stride and develops into fine true crime reading. Perhaps that was due to dual authorship or dual editing. The end result is ultimately satisfying. BM is an excellent example of the dangers of good intentions (stopping the Italian Mafia) unraveling into a its' own sinister crisis and creating its' own maelstrom of crime. BM is a 5 star work, but with one star subtracted for the weaker early stages. Boston residents can quite easily add back the 5th star. True crime devotees living in eastern Massachusetts should love this one.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 31, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book rips the door off its hinges on the back-room deals struck by the FBI's John Connolly and Whitey Bulger. The great lengths that Connolly went to cover Whitey's track will make your stomach turn. The writers capture that sense, back it up with hard evidence, and invite the reader into that dark place where the line between good and evil merge.
O'Neill and Lehr have beaten everyone to the punch on a story that has never been told and will shock the senses. Black Mass is destined for greatness and is a book that was made for the big screen.
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