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The Brothers Bulger: How They Terrorized and Corrupted Boston for a Quarter Century Hardcover – February 23, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Although superior to some other tellings of the incredible story of how two brothers came to dominate Boston's political and criminal underworlds for decades, this account by veteran Boston Herald reporter Carr still falls short of being the definitive version he intended. The stranger-than-fiction rise to power of Billy Bulger, the longtime Massachusetts senate president, kingmaker and consummate deal maker, and his brother Whitey, a psychopathic killer who took over the city's Irish mobs, is compelling, but despite Carr's closeness to the story, he fails to bring his protagonists' inner world to life. For those broadly familiar with the corruption scandal that indelibly tarred the FBI because of the active role some of its agents took in protecting Whitey and enabling his brutalities, the author gives a detailed, hit-by-hit description of his crimes. Most readers from outside the Bay State will be almost as appalled at the wheeling and dealing of his "respectable" brother, who crossed path with presidents and presidential aspirants, and who extended his patronage practices to his subsequent position as president of the University of Massachusetts. (Feb. 23)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"Listeners might imagine the late Edward R, Murrow telling this fantastic story . . . Anyone who doesn't know the details of the Bulgers' amazing dual saga will find them all spelled out in Michael Prichard's clean, understated delivery, which makes the whole thing even more incredible." ---Publishers Weekly Audio Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The narrative opens with Billy, the politician brother, testifying before a congressional committee where he doesn't come off well taking the 5th. His brother Whitey, meanwhile, tops the FBI list of America's most wanted criminals spawning a cottage industry of global Whitey spottings over the last decade. Howie Carr clearly doesn't think much of Billy's lifetime of political fixings and seeks to tie him to his psycho criminal brother in the Bostonian version of a politico-fandango, true or otherwise. It's in a way too bad as Billy has risen from the shanty Irish mean streets of "southie" to be president of the state senate followed by a stint as president of UMass. Alas, his life of political corruption, shades of J.M. Curley's era, catches up to him, but not before he receives a handsome pension to ease his retiring years.
Whitey, on the other hand, comes across for what he apparently is which is a pretty scary guy. He murders well over 50 people after getting out of Alcatraz in his early 20's. Carr leads the reader thru the various killings and maimings with the added feature of FBI corruption thrown in. Whitey was an FBI informant which made for a bad ending if you were his competitor in crime, and this is where Carr ties Billy to Whitey with the corrupted FBI agent fitting neatly into the mix, all a part of an all-star criminal class out of the southie end of Boston. And what a story it is as it reads like an endlessly repeating drive-by killing spree all juxtaposed with Billy's political operations shades of the Kennedy machine - ipso the Irish mob of Nicholson in the Departed marries the life of Danial Drew, he of Days of Erie fame. Nothing has changed, just the names.
I'd recommend a book entitled, "the Bosses" to frame out the Billy side and perhaps Vinnie Teresa's, "My life in the mob" for the Whitey side. In any event it's a page turner which I looked forward to reading again after each time I had to put it down. All the Mass-politico names are there including Barney, Ted and J.F. Kerry. What a bunch!
Brilliant descriptive narrative. He joins Elmore Leonard and Tom Wolfe in the pantheon of American novelists that understand the difference between the real and the apparent in the human spirit. His "Hard Knocks" is a must read sequel.
In Hollywood calculus: 'Infernal Affairs' (Hong Kong-made original movie) + 'The Brothers Bulger' = Scorsese's 'The Departed'
Carr's work is a fascinating read for any native Bostonian.