Will Whitey Bulger’s Memoirs Finally Separate Fact from Fiction?

Whitey Bulger 101 review this morning. Let’s see, did the Feds have this purported Whitey Bulger memoir document (“My Life in the Irish Mafia Wars”) since 1995? Feds kept the lid on it. Another most valuable autobiographical manuscript was found in that secretive apartment building in Santa Monica, Ca., where James hid out with his longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig. The value of such twilight documents is enormous, both as tools to use for federal prosecutors and as a property of gold for prospective publishers.

Alright, so I’m not very far along in my Whitey Bulger studies. His story is a long and winding road of hits, scams, and escaping the long arm of the law while on the lam with Catherine. I’m a humble student of whatever, so I printed out the Wikipedia entry for Whitey Bulger. There’s that familiar photo of Whitey’s mug shot when serving time at Alcatraz (1959). Each slice of Whitey’s action-packed life is worthy of careful consideration and could comprise a chapter in yet another book on this Robin Hood of South Boston.

whitey bulger, FBI surveillance image
FBI surveillance image

Well, this has already happened, but I’m still a novice in my comprehension and retainment of the sundry sordid details of Winter Hill Gang business. The archival vaults of the Boston Globe are brimmed with riches on the legendary crook, and it would appear this would be a starting place for some literary opportunist, looking to cash in on a story that’s still hard to believe today, even though it’s been told a million times before.

Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill book Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob is supposed to be a valuable source to read, so I’ll be looking out for a copy of this book. I know Dick Lehr was a reporter for the Boston Globe and was all over Whitey’s story for years; Lehr was right in the thick of it, so he speaks with authority (I haven’t read any of his pieces, so I better clam up on his role until I can do some more research).

Well, I’ll probe as much as I can, until I get too scared to carry on. I’m no yellow-belly but the way Jack Nicholson portrayed Whitey in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed makes the hair rise on the back of my neck. I realize a lot of this is mere dramatic license, BS of Jack taking it to the limit to scare the hell out of you, with an Irish mobster who glares at a blue, bloody severed hand of one of his trophy victims. But still, Jack accomplished what he set out to do. Scared the pants right off of me!

Mid-last year I did pick up a title at Book People here in Austin, Hitman: The Untold Story of Johnny Martorano: Whitey Bulger’s Enforcer and the Most Feared Gangster in the Underworld by Howie Carr. I got about half way through it, but the going got so rough I had to put it down. I hid it in the closet with some other volumes on the history of the Mafia, with the idea I’d pull it out when a modicum of courage re-visits me (if that ever happens).

These guys played hardball, no doubt about it. Just glancing at Wikipedia’s references on Whitey. Rat Bastards: A Memoir of South Boston’s Most Honorable Irish Mobsters by John Red Shea catches my eye. Wonder if I’ll ever get it up to gander that monograph? How ’bout Paddy Whacked by T.J. English? How high is the body count in that one? A book I’ll have to read, will be Whitey’s personal account, if it’s ever published.

James J. Whitey Bulger, the notorious head mobster of South Boston – A Man of Contradictions – Crime Library on truTV.com