Whitey Bulger: America's Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him to Justice

Whitey Bulger: America's Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him to Justice
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W. W. Norton & Company
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Biographies & Memoirs > Specific Groups > Crime & Criminals

Biographies & Memoirs > True Crime > Organized Crime

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This unforgettable narrative follows the astonishing career and epic manhunt for Whitey Bulger—a gangster whose life was more sensational than fiction.

Raised in a South Boston housing project, James "Whitey" Bulger became the most wanted fugitive of his generation. In this riveting story, rich with family ties and intrigue, award-winning Boston Globe reporters Kevin Cullen and Shelley Murphy follow Whitey’s extraordinary criminal career—from teenage thievery to bank robberies to the building of his underworld empire and a string of brutal murders.

It was after a nine-year stint in Alcatraz and other prisons that Whitey reunited with his brother William "Billy" Bulger, who was soon to become one of Massachusetts’s most powerful politicians. He also became reacquainted with John Connolly, who had grown up around the corner from the Bulgers and was now—with Billy’s help—a rising star at the FBI.

Once Whitey emerged triumphant from the bloody Boston gang wars, Connolly recruited him as an informant against the Mafia. Their clandestine relationship made Whitey untouchable; the FBI overlooked gambling, drugs, and even homicide to protect their source. Among the close-knit Irish community in South Boston, nothing was more important than honor and loyalty, and nothing was worse than being a rat. Whitey is charged with the deaths of nineteen people killed over turf, for business, and even for being informants; yet to this day he denies he ever gave up his friends or landed anyone in jail.

Based on exclusive access and previously undisclosed documents, Cullen and Murphy explore the truth of the Whitey Bulger story. They reveal for the first time the extent of his two parallel family lives with different women, as well as his lifelong paranoia stemming in part from his experience in the CIA’s MKULTRA program. They describe his support of the IRA and his hitherto-unknown role in the Boston busing crisis, and they show a keen understanding of his mindset while on the lam and behind bars. The result is the first full portrait of this legendary criminal figure—a gripping story of wiseguys and cops, horrendous government malfeasance, and a sixteen-year manhunt that climaxed in Whitey’s dramatic capture in Santa Monica in June 2011.

16 pages of photographs

Customer Book Reviews

The most credible and thorough "Whitey" book so far


Overall, excellent. This is not 'Black Mass' or 'The Brothers Bulger'. There isn't any 'creative non-fiction' from these two Boston Globe writers; rather, it's the story of Whitey Bulger based on the facts, including heretofore unknown yet documentable facts. So, on one hand, it's the most credible book on the Whitey saga. However, some readers knowledgeable about the Bulgers will be disappointed in the writers' reticence to 'connect the dots' and draw conclusions about certain aspects of the criminal enterprise Whitey ran (e.g., the depth and breadth of Billy Bulger's involvement). But I suppose the authors' objectivity is commendable: they give us the dots, we connect them. The book is, first and foremost, an engrossing read. While most 'true crime' books sensationalize the crimes and criminals, Cullen and Murphy calmly reveal just how evil Whitey and his minions were. The scene of innocent Deborah Hussey, stepdaughter of Stephen Flemmi whom he had molested for years, being murdered by Whitey and Flemmi, with Flemmi pulling her teeth out with pliers afterwards (to prevent ID of the body, if found), is, really, all you need to know about these dirtbags. As for new revelations, there is actually some comical stuff about "criminal mastermind" Whitey and his new pen pal, Dick Sunday, an old con who served time with Whitey in Alcatraz. Apparently the "mastermind" has been writing letters to Sunday, not only whining about his detention at Plymouth County Jail but admitting many of the crimes he is accused of. The feds now have those letters. Good luck at trial, Mastermind. Other revelations concerning Whitey's involvement in the Boston busing violence and IRA support are very interesting. The book is divided into three sections: "The Rise", "The Reign", and "The Run". All of it is well-written and factual, neither building Whitey Bulger up nor condemning him. However, the facts alone condemn him.



I was a criminal defense attorney for thirty-eight years before ascending to the Massachusetts Judiciary for ten years. I have met and represented many of the individuals about whom the authors write. This book nails it. It reads like a gripping crime novel and captivates the reader from page one. It is fodder for a mesmerizing movie, presenting the problem of what NOT to include. There are other books on this subject but they pale as knockoffs to this GENUINE gold Rolex. Set aside some time when you begin this read for it's a thrilling visual insight of the inhabitants of the world of organized crime. Non-fiction books as exciting as this don't come along that often. It's a gem. Judge Gerald Alch (Ret.)

Whitey Bulger by Cullen and Murphy will forever be known as the authoritative resource...


Whitey Bulger by Cullen and Murphy will forever be known as the authoritative resource for filtering out fact from fiction on the infamous and repugnant life of James" Whitey" Bulger. I was just one of many aspiring young detectives who spent several years of our careers trying to take this murderous sociopath off the street, only to be intercepted by corruption time after time at the highest levels of government. Cullen and Murphy were alongside with us through those years. This book should be mandatory reading at every local, state, and federal law enforcement academy in the country. Bob Long Detective Lieutenant Inspector Massachusetts State Police, Retired

Very compelling read


The authors, who are quite familiar with the Bulgers from their (the authors') years as reporters for the Boston Globe, have done a masterful job telling the story factually, without sensationalizing or over-analyzing those facts - and quite a story it is! The study of Whitey's character fascinated me, from his childhood on. The things he was able to get away with, largely because he was very tight with his FBI "handlers," chilled my blood. Yes, the FBI was concentrating principally on the Italian mafia, but did the FBI need to give Whitey a complete pass and look the other way as he systematically and brutally murdered, by his own admission, at least 40 people? Did the FBI try very hard to capture Whitey after he went on the lam? These are questions the authors raise, and, thankfully, do not answer definitively. The book certainly left me thinking. Now that we are seeing Whitey's defense shaping up (he will not deny what he did, but claims he has immunity but was not an informant - read the book and you will see where this is coming from), part of me hopes that not too many people read this book, because as an attorney I hope the court will be able to seat an impartial jury, and this book gives details going back to the beginning, in the 1970s. (As another reviewer pointed out, Whitey's involvement in the South Boston busing mess was one of many revelations.) However, the book is so good that I believe it will be widely read. I think the authors should do another book about John Connolly, the principal FBI handler who is now serving a long prison term. It appears the authors had a lot of material for their book on Whitey, including trial transcripts and judicial decisions (over 600 pages from Judge Mark Wolf alone, in the Connolly case!). Or, perhaps they could take a look at the informant system more generally. I literally could not put this book down, and found myself rearranging my life in order to finish it. I highly recommend it.

Definitive but boring


I have to say that above all other genres of book, I love true crime stories so I was very intrigued about this book when I heard the authors interviewed on Talk of the Nation (RIP) one afternoon. Admittedly, the Irish mob particularly in Boston, was a subject that I had little prior experience with as most of my true crime books relate to serial killers or the Italian Mafia so I was really excited to dive into this book. What I found has been both, at times, riveting and excruciatingly boring. The authors have done an excellent job with this book, no question, however their style of reporting can make for tiresome reading at times. At the end of the day, this is a newspaper article that is hundreds of pages long and, as such, it can get to be a real slog to get through some parts. That said, this book is as straight forward a piece of reporting that you're going to get. The book is not prone to flights of artistic fancy or inferred insights into the minds of the central criminals. This book explores the facts and for that it is a fine book and if you're one that enjoys just straight up reporting, you'll find this book right up your alley. If you're like me, and enjoy a little more art and style to your writing, you might do better with a different book. I didn't learn anything in this book that I didn't learn in a 15 minute Google search of Whitey Bulger's name which may be the way to go. Fine book, well written just not entertaining enough for my taste. I am by no means suggesting that this is not an excellent book written by very talented reporters, I just mean to suggest that, if you like a little more flare with your reading, you might enjoy another book more.

One Fantastic Book


I have lived in Dorchester and Southie all my life and this book was just amazing as far as the amount of research and detail these two authors have put into this real life story. I know or knew some the people in this book and never heard some of the stories. Buy it. When it becomes a movie it will be fantastic. I see Kevin Cullen occasionally at a local watering hole and will be sure to tell him what a great job he and Shelley did. Buy it. No matter where you are from this is one great book. Buy it.

footnote & fancy free


sooo many footnotes suggest that anyone could write this book. like 'Saving Savannah'. available so i bought it. now other resources, ie. newspapers, tv, keep me uptodate.

# 1 True Crime Nonfiction Book Ever Written!


Whitey Bulger: America's Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him to Justice by Kevin Cullen (author), Shelley Murphy (author) both award winning Boston Globe reporters' - produced an excellent true crime nonfiction book. This book is far superior to the nonfiction book "Wiseguy," by Nicholas Pileggi (author) detailing low level criminal, gangster Henry Hill (movie version: Goodfellas)! Also, far superior content to the nonfiction book "Gaspipe," by Philip Carlo (author), detailing the gangster, criminal (mafia leader) Anthony Casso (now in the Super Max prison). This outstanding nonfiction book is broken into three portions, about the most notorious American gangster since Al Capone, one "Whitey Bulger." The initial phase gives the reader an insightful, in depth analysis of the neighborhood that produced Whitey Bulger, called "Southie," or South Boston. Raised in honest, hard working, Irish family (one of Whitey's brothers' would go on to become Mass. State Senate President), Whitey decided to flee those values and/or became the neighborhood thug, he did not go to school, had a criminal record, ran with the worst kids, committed crimes left and right. It was interesting to read this first portion of the book and/or understand how one's environment + criminal decision making enabled "Whitey," to gain entry into higher levels of organized crime. Born in 1929, Whitey came from a stable family, spent time in a structured environment, had two good parents, smart siblings, served in the Air Force, but still chose the criminal life. This is the "rise," of Whitey Bulger, the Irish gangster. Loved reading this book, a real page turner! The middle portion of the book, "the reign," is just after Whitey Bulgers' initial prison years. He spends nine years in a numerous federal prisons' for robbery and hijacking, he even spent time in the famous Alcatraz prison, for his younger year, criminal activities. In prison, Whitey participated in LSD experiments (this helped him elude the legal authorities seeking his arrest and/or capture--later in life as he was constantly paranoid from his LSD experiments volunteer days). Upon, Whitey's prison time, his life is followed after he is released in 1965. This where the book explodes into action, entertainment, a real life crime tale, amazing story. In the final portion of the book, as an Irish mobster, Whitey is confronted (after being released from federal prison) with the turf war between his Irish mobsters that lived along his dealings' in "Southie," that he was apart of, versus the Italian factional gangs of Northern Mass. the Patriarch Italian mafia faction . Whitey is thrust into a power struggle, this is when he gains control and/or becomes the supreme reign gangster. . As a man in organized crime within leadership, Whitey is smack dab in the middle of turf wars, crime, all the elements of true crime in America! He easily killed more than nineteen people maybe even up to forty people, he did all the dealings of a mobster during that time period would do. Both authors' did an excellent job, they provided decades of research that they used to tell the tale of Whitey Bulger, organized crime. Essentially from 1965 to 1995, thirty years of research and/or information about American organized crime. Easy, fun to read. John Connoly, a young lifetime friend and/or admirer of Whitey Bulger, back from their "Southie," youth days' is a key part of the book. With Whitey Bulger's release from Federal Prison in 1965, and his subsequent rise to the top of the Southie gangster Irish faction, John Connoly has by then become an FBI agent with one single minded goal of destroying organized crime via FBI director J. Edgard Hoover's direct order! John Connoly enlisted the help of his old friend form "Southie," (Whitey Bulger) to become his number one informant (essentially full immunity from Whitey's crime activities during 1970s - 1980s) in exchange for information that would lead to the diminishing of overall organized crime. Whitey had become the main guy after his reign and/or actions in the Irish versus Italian gang wars, his success as a criminal! The FBI would later make John Connoly their fall guy when the media learned of the FBIs collusion with Whitey Bugler and/or his Irish criminal gang (Connoly was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, humiliated)! Whitey Bulger's "running," from authorities when they were to come down on him, does not change his ultimate fate. Nevertheless, Whitey Bulger is a worldwide known gangster who in fact was a killer, drug-dealer, racketeer, stealing, all-around real life gangster - thug - evil doer, from 1965 up until his flight from the law in 1995! His dealings are beyond comprehension during this time period, illustrated in the last portion of the book ("the running"), practiced living in Europe, safe deposit boxes filled, so forth. Whitey Bulger's then subsequent fleeing from authorities for 16 years (tipped off by FBI agent of warrant) and/or capture in June 2011 in Santa Monica, CA with his longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig! Flowed well, fun to read, it is very detailed with a lot of relevant U.S. crime history! Stellar, exceptional true crime content! His longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig (she was later sentenced to 8 years for harboring a felon, Whitey), but Whitey Bulger will likely die in prison as he awaits his sentencing in the South Boston Federal Courthouse. The information that is presented to the reader is very well laid out, flowed well, great information, very entertaining. I loved to read true crime books', this is the best true crime book I have ever read. Shelly Murphy (author) is a nationally recognized writer, having won the Greg Polk Award and/or Kevin Culley (author) is a Pulitzer prize winner, their expertise is shown with their exceptional research, exceptional writing, and in depth narrative! A must buy, read for anyone interested in the topic of the mafia, organized crime, true crime. Drugs, murder, racketeering, FBI informants, informants, turf wars, this book had all the elements, producing an excellent nonfiction true crime nonfiction book. Outstanding content, it's solid gold! Could not it put down after reading the first chapter. A masterpiece. Highly recommended.

The Truth About Whitey Bulger


Very interested in learning about the Whitey Bulger legend and how he was able to avoid capture all of these years. There is nothing magical or ingenious about how Whitey got where he got, but this book does a good job illustrating how much of a unstable thug he really was. The worst part about his story is how much of a role the FBI played, in essence, how they were accomodating his murder of several people. You see movies or watch t.v. shows where criminals become informants to protect themselves from going to jail. If anyone involved in criminal activity were to read this book, rest assured, becoming one would not be an option. The book is long, but is an easy and enjoyable read. I found myself reading deep into the night, especially the part on how Whitey eventually gets captured. It was also interesting to find out how the people of South Boston viewed Whitey and how they took care of their own. Especially when it came to the Irish politicans and law enforcement officials. With shows like the Soprano's people can get caught up in the glamour of the mobster lifestyle. With this book, my perception of Whitey changed from a "wiley" criminal to just an Irish version of an Italian mobster who took advantage of other criminals through brute force. The most surprising and disappointing part of the book was the role of the FBI and the lack of trust/respect they garnered from the MA state police and DEA. With their role in the Whitey debacle, I can now understand why.



This book is a win for the US citizens since once again it is the reporter and the judge who are the ones who have brought an end to Whitey's activities. It is amazing how much misinformation FBI had given to all other authorities and governmental agencies since Whitey happened to be an FBI informant but it is a proof that no entity or any branch of the government should ever be trusted fully since corruption will find its way, regardless. Fascinating story with so many different entities involved that you just simply can not put the book down since after all the writer himself is from South Boston and very familiar with the case for decades and the one who jeopardized his own life years ago when he saw the connection between Whitey and FBI. The story of a criminal who would not drink since he believed in being healthy and well fit by working out but never saw anything wrong murdering anyone regardless of their gender or age. You could not dream up this book even if you tried to since this is not a typical Mafia story, this is a different, very different animal by itself. God bless America. Bravo.

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Book Summary: The title of this book is Whitey Bulger and it was written by Kevin Cullen, Shelley Murphy. This particular edition is in a Hardcover format. This books publish date is Feb 11, 2013 and it has a suggested retail price of $26.95. It was published by W. W. Norton & Company and has a total of 496 pages in the book. The 10 digit ISBN is 0393087727 and the 13 digit ISBN is 9780393087727. To buy this book at the lowest price, Click Here.