- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Steerforth; Updated edition (June 29, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1586422383
- ISBN-13: 978-1586422387
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 930 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran & Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa Paperback – June 29, 2016
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“Sheeran’s confession that he killed Hoffa in the manner described in the book is supported by the forensic evidence, is entirely credible, and solves the Hoffa mystery.” — Michael Baden M.D., former Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York
“I’m fully convinced – now – that Sheeran was in fact the man who did the deed. And I’m impressed, too, by the book’s readability and by its factual accuracy in all areas on which I’m qualified to pass judgment. Charles Brandt has solved the Hoffa mystery.” —Professor Arthur Sloane, author of Hoffa
“Sometimes you can believe everything you read.” — William “Big Billy” D’Elia, successor to Russell Bufalino as godfather of the Bufalino crime family
“My source in the Bufalino family . . . read I Heard You Paint Houses. All the Bufalino guys read it. This old-time Bufalino guy told me he was shocked. He couldn’t believe Sheeran confessed all that stuff to [Brandt]. It’s all true.” — New York Police Department organized crime homicide detective Joseph Coffey
“If the made men Brandt rubbed up against during his five years with Sheeran suspected what Sheeran was confessing to him on tape, they’d both have been promptly whacked.” — Joe Pistone, retired FBI deep undercover agent and the author of Donnie Brasco
I Heard You Paint Houses “gives new meaning to the term ‘guilty pleasure.’ It promises to clear up the mystery of Hoffa’s demise, and appears to do so. Sheeran not only admits he was in on the hit, he says it was he who actually pulled the trigger — and not just on Hoffa but on dozens of other victims, including many, he alleges, dispatched on Hoffa’s orders. This last seems likely to spur a reappraisal of Hoffa’s career. . . . Sheeran is Old School, and his tale is admirably free of self-pity and self-aggrandizement. Without getting all Oprah about it, he admits he was an alcoholic and a lousy father. His business was killing people, and . . . he did it with little muss, fuss or introspection.’’ — Bryan Burrough, author of Public Enemies, in The New York Times Book Review
“One of Sheeran’s virtues was his gift as a storyteller; one of his flaws was his tendency to murder, in mobster jargon, ‘to paint houses.’ . . . Although he professed his loyalty to Hoffa – he said on one occasion, ‘I’ll be a Hoffa man ‘til they pat my face with a shovel and steal my cufflinks’ − Sheeran acknowledged that he was the one who killed the Teamsters boss. . . . On July 30, 1975, Hoffa disappeared. Sheeran explains how he did it, in prose reminiscent of the best gangster films.” — Associated Press
“I Heard You Paint Houses is the best Mafia book I ever read, and believe me, I read them all. It’s so authentic.” — Steven Van Zandt, featured actor, “Silvio Dante,” in The Sopranos and musician in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band
“Told with such economy and chilling force as to make The Sopranos suddenly seem overwrought and theatrical.” —New York Daily News
“Is Sheeran believable? Very . . . and ‘I Heard You Paint Houses’ is a very enjoyable book.” —Trial Magazine
“A page-turning account of one man’s descent into the mob.” —Delaware News Journal
“A terrific read.” —Kansas City Star
From the Inside Flap
"I heard you paint houses" are the first words Jimmy Hoffa ever spoke to Frank "the Irishman" Sheeran. To paint a house is to kill a man. The paint is the blood that splatters on the walls and floors. In the course of nearly five years of recorded interviews Frank Sheeran confessed to Charles Brandt that he handled more than twenty-five hits for the mob, and for his friend Hoffa. Sheeran learned to kill in the U.S. Army, where he saw an astonishing 411 days of active combat duty in Italy during World War II. After returning home he became a hustler and hit man, working for legendary crime boss Russell Bufalino. Eventually he would rise to a position of such prominence that in a RICO suit then-U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani would name him as one of only two non-Italians on a list of 26 top mob figures. When Bufalino ordered Sheeran to kill Hoffa, he did the deed, knowing that if he had refused he would have been killed himself. Sheeran's important and fascinating story includes new information on other famous murders, and provides rare insight to a chapter in American history. Charles Brandt has written a page-turner that is destined to become a true crime classic.
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I read this book for two reasons: The first is because I'm always drawn to mafia-related tales, especially true ones, and secondly, since Martin Scorsese is turning it into a Netflix film with Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino all starring in the three main roles.
The story of Frank Sheeran is an interesting, dark, and sometimes brutal thing. This man killed everything from Nazis to gangsters, and in large quantities. The book starts with a riveting chapter that sets Frank up the night before Jimmy Hoffa is killed. It had me thinking that Frank knew who did it, but had nothing to do with the actual murder, and boy was I wrong.
The book cuts away from Hoffa's murder, and takes us into Frank's childhood, and then into his 411 days of combat service during World War II. The days Frank learned how to carry out the order to murder without hesitation, and the days where Frank learned how to outlive everyone around him. I found Frank's tour of duty to be some of the most thought-provoking stuff, but I can understand why it was hard for him to discuss, especially since he was in combat for longer than the majority of humans ever in war.
There's a lot of Teamsters Union talk, and while some of it would boil down to violence, it was mostly just a bunch of names being thrown around, and elections of local unions being discussed. These parts of the book are probably the least interesting, but Frank Sheeran loved The Teamsters, and was a proud member. It was probably the thing he was most proud of in his entire life.
Hoffa's trials against Bobby Kennedy take up a large portion of the book, but Frank didn't have much of a perspective other than repeating some of Jimmy Hoffa's quotes from that time. It's a shame we'll never get to read a new book with interviews from Jimmy on this subject. His rivalry with Bobby Kennedy was an epic American tale in itself.
Things started to get truly griping around the time Jimmy Hoffa went to "school", as Frank Sheeran referred to prison. Hoffa's hatred for being inside, and how he lost his grip on The Teamsters, which eventually led to him losing his grip on reality setup the climax, as Frank finally returned to his story from the start of the book. Frank made it to Detroit the day Jimmy Hoffa was killed...
I think I was pulling for Frank more before I knew about him being in on Jimmy Hoffa's death, despite knowing he'd killed dozens of other people. Something about killing the man he claims to have respected so much, and been such close friends with, makes it hard to relate to the man. You always hear things about the mafia sending your closest friend to whack you, and in Frank's version of the Hoffa hit, that's how it went down.
Frank mentioned Giants' Stadium, which was a place you'd always hear rumored to be Hoffa's burial ground when you grew up a Giants fan. He squashed that rumor, like a few others over the years, but the details of Jimmy Hoffa's last moments were a lot less extravagant. There's stuff to be taken away from those moments, but "I Heard You Paint Houses" really left an impression on me concerning Russell Buffalino.
You hear a lot of old gangster names thrown around over the years, but I don't think I've ever had a conversation with a person that involved them dropping Russell Buffalino's name. According to the book, he was the closest living representation of Vito Corleone from "The Godfather", and Russell had final say on "The Godfather" film's script all the way back in the 70's. Another tidbit from this book about Godfather, Al Martino, who plays Johnny Fontane in the film, was actually the basis for the character, and not Frank Sinatra. Not only that, but Francis Ford Coppola didn't want Al Martino for the role, but Russell Buffalino made some calls, and it was so.
Frank Sheeran went out by starving himself to death in a nursing home. Robert De Niro is going to be playing him in the movie, and while I hear there's going to be a lot of de-aging going on, I honestly think this flick would've worked better as a Marty/Leo team-up, but what do I know?
Charles Brandt goes on to talk about how his book was well received, and most of Frank's tales were proven true, despite common beliefs before the book was published in the early 2000's (I.E.: Crazy Joey Gallo hit). Apparently, he even became friends with the actual "Donnie Brasco", and they have worked together on other stuff.
If you're interested in the true crimes of the American Mafia than "I Heard You Paint Houses" is the exact book you need to add to your reading list. Frank Sheeran interacted with everyone who was anyone during the beginning of the end of "This Thing of Ours", and all as an outsider, so it's a rare perspective.
The flow of this book is amazing. I was raised in Philly and this guy remembers every detail of restaurants, bars, stores, clubs....all exactly as I remembered them. Can't wait for the film!