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I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran and the Inside Story of the Mafia, the Teamsters, and the Final Ride of Jimmy Hoffa Hardcover – June 1, 2004

4.5 out of 5 stars 572 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"'I Heard You Paint Houses'" is one of the best accounts of the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, former Teamsters union boss and one of the most powerful men in America.
...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." ...From what Sheeran said, it is assumed that he painted several houses for Hoffa. And as a reward, he was able to climb the ladder in the union, until he was made head of the Teamsters local in Wilmington, Del. 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. "Jimmy Hoffa got shot twice at decent range - not too close or the paint splatters back at you - in the back of the head, behind his right ear," said Sheeran. And then, this magnificently laconic finale: "My friend didn't suffer."
- Associated Press

"Brandt's book gives new meaning to the term 'guilty pleasure.' . . . Sheeran's account of Hoffa's killing certainly appears credible."
- New York Times Book Review

"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 Examinaer 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."
- Prof. Arthur Sloane, author of Hoffa

"The book already has impressed law enforcement officials enough to jump start new activities in the case . . . It's a terrific read."
- Kansas City Star

"Unlike similar claims by many other self-confessed executioners, law enforcement authorities say Sheeran may well be telling the truth."
- Jerry Capeci's Gang Land News

"A page-turning account of one man's descent into the mob."
- Delaware News Journal

From the Inside Flap

HEARD YOU PAINT HOUSES is a fascinating account of a dark side of American history. The book's title comes from 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.

Frank Sheeran lived a long, violent, passionate life. As a boy he took on older kids in bar fights so his dad could win free beer. During World War II he was a highly decorated infantryman with 411 days of active combat duty and a willingness to follow orders. "When an officer would tell you to take a couple of German prisoners back behind the line and for you to ‘hurry back,' you did what you had to do." He became a hustler and hit man, working for legendary crime boss Russell Bufalino and eventually becoming one of only two non-Italians on the FBI's famous La Cosa Nostra list. He was also a truck driver who was made head of the Teamsters local in Wilmington, Delaware, by his good friend Jimmy Hoffa. When Hoffa disappeared on July 30, 1975, Sheeran became a leading suspect, and every serious study of the Hoffa disappearance alleges that Sheeran was there.

For the first time the Irishman tells all — a lifetime of payoffs (including hand-delivering bags of cash to Nixon's attorney general John Mitchell) and manipulation (supporting Joe Biden's election to the Senate with a Teamster action) — for the book that would become his deathbed confession. He died on December 14, 2003.

Sheeran also provides shocking new information on notorious mob hits: Joseph "Crazy Joey" Gallo — blown away as he celebrated his forty-third birthday in New York's Little Italy; Salvatore "Sally Bugs" Briguglio — long suspected of being a player in the plot to kill Hoffa. And offers new insights to the crusading of Robert Kennedy and the death of John F. Kennedy.

This historic account is based on interviews of Frank Sheeran by Charles Brandt, who researched, cross-checked, and illuminated what Sheeran told him and turned it all into a gripping narrative that is sure to become an instant true crime classic.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Steerforth; First Edition ~1st Printing edition (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586420771
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586420772
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (572 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #426,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Wayne A. Smith VINE VOICE on March 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Charles Brandt has proved twice over the last twenty years that he is a pretty good author. This non-fiction work (the title refers to the code Mafiosi used to inquire whether someone did hits -- the blood spatter being the paint) detailing the life of Frank Sheeran and his buddy Jimmy Hoffa is first rate.

Brandt combines passages of Sheeran's own words with the author's background and fill-in's to tie together an impressive mob memoir. Frank Sheeran, besides hailing for a time from my own Wilmington, Delaware, was one vicious and disciplined mobster. This is his story. His hardscrabble life (his father would make him fight people in bars as a teen for beer -- the beer going to his father, not Frank) perhaps made a life a amorality unsurprising. What is amazing is that this recount by an old man facing death is not a repentance for a life lived horribly wrong, but a simple detailing of the events of that life. The banality of Sheeran describing his career -- hits, butchering, beatings told the way an accountant would detail audits or financial statement presentations -- is fascinating and speaks to a man wholly absorbed in doing his part for organized crime and the Teamsters.

Hoffa is presented as an interesting figure; one who starts using the mob for the benefit of "his" teamsters but makes the tragic mistake of believing he is too big to be bound by mob rules. His story and will to take over what was once the most powerful union in America is a remarkable tale in its own right and told interestingly in this book.

Sheeran idolizes Hoffa. Then he kills him (according to Sheeran).
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By A Customer on June 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I must say, when I first heard that there was a new book out that supposedly had the inside info on what actually happened to Jimmy Hoffa, I was skeptical. After all... after years of myths and mysterious tales that included the Teamster boss' burial beneath the Giant Stadium End Zone, I figured this would be more of the same... speculative journalism. Was I wrong! This book has more than the ring of truth, it has the look, feel and smell of truth. Frank Sheeran's story, as reported and commented on by the author, is clearly authentic. The way the story unfolds -- as first person narration with commentary -- provides the reader with an in-depth journey through a life of crime, murder, mob relationships, and betrayal on a grand scale. It's not only solid history and a superb biography of a complex individual, it's one of the best non-fiction crime books I've ever read. And the big questions... who killed James R. Hoffa... why and how did it go down? I'm convinced they are answered. Case closed. And the insights the book gives us into a life in crime are fascinating. Go for it!
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Format: Hardcover
Enough law enforcement officials have given credit to the veracity of Sheeran's account and it certainly rang true to me as I read it. There are no particularly startling revelations here, at least as regards the Hoffa matter. Those who orchestrated the hit are the same people who were always suspect- Bufalino, Provenzano, etc. However, at the very least, we can now dispense with some of the more fanciful notions that have evolved over the years- Hoffa was buried in a NJ dump, Hoffa rests in the end zone of Giants stadium, etc. I was surprised to read about Sheeran's claiming credit for the Joe Gallo hit in NY in 1972. As a frequent patron of the old Umberto's restaurant on Mulberry Street where the colorful Gallo met his end (you could still see the bullet holes that dispatched Gallo for years afterward and the restaurant became something of a tourist attraction), I always credited the claim of Joseph Luparelli that 3 gunmen were involved in the hit. The only real problem I had with the book was that, despite all his forthcoming self-analysis and revelatory details, I ended the narrative with no real sense beyond the superficial of what made Sheeran tick. Impoverished background? The brutality of his combat experiences? How many people have gone through all that and more without becoming underworld killers? Perhaps it's inevitable that someone like Sheeran is destined to remain an enigma. Or perhaps the prosaic reality is that Frank Sheeran was an essentially shallow, empty man whose only true value in the world in which he moved was the brutality and violence of which he was so obviously capable of performing without much notice or preparation. It would have been interesting to hear from his alienated, embittered daughters to get a glimpse of the man's personality from another vantage point.Read more ›
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By A Customer on July 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I read this book's review in the NY Times, I knew I had to read it, and I was not disappointed. No one should miss this absolutely compelling and fascinating insider's story of his life with the Mafia, Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters.
In addition to making some very astonishing revelations about Joe Kennedy, The Bay of Pigs and the assassination of John F. Kennedy, this book also reveals Frank Sheeran to be a rather likeable character. And that was a complete surprise to me. I anticipated a far more despicable personality.
Is it all true? I think it is. Read it and make your call.
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