The Brothers Bulger Review
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Boston journalist Howie Carr gives us the story of the infamous Bulger brothers, two guys who grew up in the South Boston projects—William M. “Billy” Bulger, a master of political corruption, and James J. “Whitey” Bulger, one of the most notorious criminals of our time—and the corruption and carnage they wreaked for 25 years.

Billy Bulger served as president of the Massachusetts Senate and, later, president of the University of Massachusetts. At the top of his game, Billy had a stronghold on Massachusetts politics, so much so that he was known as the “de facto unelected governor of Massachusetts.” He controlled it all. He corrupted the State House, and, when he was through with that, he corrupted the University of Massachusetts. Billy left state service unindicted, clutching a coveted state pension, but in disgrace nonetheless.

Whitey, a bad kid from the beginning, is a murderer, rapist, thief, pedophile, and drug kingpin who rose to the top of the Irish mob, leaving bodies and destruction in his wake. A couple of Boston FBI agents recruited Whitey and his partner in crime, Stevie Flemmi, as informants so the Feds could gather critical information through them and take down the New England Mafia. In exchange, Whitey and Company were allowed their own crime spree and were tipped off to upcoming indictments, wiretaps, and anything else, so they could stay one step ahead of the law. But as Whitney and his partner were quick to point out, “We gave [the FBI] shit, and they gave us gold.” So who was using whom? Whitey took off after his FBI handler tipped him off to a racketeering indictment and is still on the lam. Featured on America’s Most Wanted no less than 12 times in as many years, Whitey’s wanted poster graces the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives (in six languages), right below Osama Bin Laden’s.

Carr details the rise and fall of the Bulgers over the past 25 years and the people they took down with them: corrupt politicians, FBI agents, Boston police, gangsters, and innocent victims. Carr’s information, all of which is true, comes from, among other things, public records, interviews, court transcripts, bugs, and wiretaps. “None of the incidents, or dialogue, in this book are imagined. This is a work of nonfiction,” Carr states in the book's preface. The book provides necessary details, but it doesn’t bore the reader with trivia. At times the book evoked a laugh; at times it sickened me. But I couldn’t put it down.

There have been other books written about Billy and Whitey, but no one tells it like Howie Carr. The Brothers Bulger is must-read material for all true crime and history buffs—and for Bostonians in particular. For some, it will be a real eye-opener; for others, a trip down Memory Lane.

And yet, the question remains unanswered: Where’s Whitey? Does anyone know? Is anyone really looking?

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