What with the movie coming out and lots of hype about Whitey Bulger re-surfacing as a result, I decided to read Black Mass. The movie was based off this book by Globe Spotlight team writers Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill. It’s a detailed nonfiction account of his life in crime, particularly his complete takeover of the Boston underworld in the ’70s and ’80s.
I’m a big lover of nonfiction books (as witnessed here) and I find true crime fascinating. Often the truth really is stranger than fiction. It was also great to get deeper into the story that the movie only has a few hours to tell. The book was a little slow at times but overall very interesting. Some of the stories would be totally unbelievable were they not corroborated by witnesses and evidence.
Another reason I found this story so interesting is because it’s not just about Whitey. Instead of being a biography of the crime boss, it also focused on the horrific corruption of the Boston FBI that occurred when Bulger became an informant for them. They basically sanctioned him to do whatever he wanted, looking the other way while he killed dozens of people. We expect gangsters to act illegally, but not the FBI.I recommend this book to anyone interested in Whitey or in the Boston crime scene. It’s an in-depth, well-reported book about the most prolific crime boss in the city’s history. And more importantly, the players in the FBI that let him go on like that for almost thirty years.
Photos by Jamie Ditaranto.