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A spellbinding tale
on January 28, 2012
The Westies controlled the West Side of Manhattan, known as Hell's Kitchen (currently Clinton). TJ English takes us through a history of the Westies, primarily as a personal history of several of the main characters. Of these characters, Mickey Featherstone was perhaps the most interesting.
There is no doubt Featherstone was a nasty sort-you certainly didn't want to be on his bad side. But he also had some interesting touches that made him a very complex and multi-dimensional character. If I had to characterize him, he was sort of a anti-Shakespearean hero...a man who is basically evil, but with a tragic "good" flaw.
I won't spoil the excitement of the book by revealing too many details, but English does a very credible job of relating the trials and tribulations of Featherstone, fellow gangster Jimmy Coonan, and a host of other mostly despicable characters.
The Westies were a loose organization-even their name came from the newspapers-but were a constant target of organized crime investigators. The book ends with the virtual elimination of the Westies as a gang, although Realtors and Developers may have been as much responsible as cops and prosecutors.
There is a fair amount of blood and gore in the book, but while somewhat graphic, is not overly sensationalized or highlighted. The book is easy and almost "fun" to read. I found myself actually "rooting" for Featherstone, as his character does create sympathy and empathy, despite his obvious character flaws.
So if you are a fan of crime history, especially relating to NYC or organized crime, you will enjoy this volume.