Black Mass: Whitey Bulger, the FBI, and a Devil's Deal

Black Mass: Whitey Bulger, the FBI, and a Devil's Deal

Paperback(First Trade Paper Edition)

$14.39 $15.99 Save 10% Current price is $14.39, Original price is $15.99. You Save 10%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Eligible for FREE SHIPPING
  • Want it by Thursday, September 27  Order now and choose Expedited Shipping during checkout.
    Same Day shipping in Manhattan. 
    See Details


Black Mass: Whitey Bulger, the FBI, and a Devil's Deal by Dick Lehr, Gerard O'Neill

Now a major motion picture starring Johnny Depp

A New York Times Bestseller
A Boston Globe Bestseller
An ABA Indie Bestseller

James "Whitey" Bulger became one of the most ruthless gangsters in US history, and all because of an unholy deal he made with a childhood friend. John Connolly a rising star in the Boston FBI office, offered Bulger protection in return for helping the Feds eliminate Boston's Italian mafia. But no one offered Boston protection from Whitey Bulger, who, in a blizzard of gangland killings, took over the city's drug trade. Whitey's deal with Connolly's FBI spiraled out of control to become the biggest informant scandal in FBI history.

Black Mass is a New York Times and Boston Globe bestseller, written by two former reporters who were on the case from the beginning. It is an epic story of violence, double-cross, and corruption at the center of which are the black hearts of two old friends whose lives unfolded in the darkness of permanent midnight.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781610391092
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Publication date: 05/22/2012
Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 99,083
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill are former reporters with the Boston Globe, and co-authors of Whitey: The Life of America's Most Notorious Mob Boss. O'Neill has won the Pulitzer, Hancock and Loeb Prizes. Lehr, a Pulitzer finalist, has also won the Hancock and Loeb awards. He currently is a professor of journalism at Boston University, where he is a codirector of an investigative reporting clinic.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


Under a harvest moon, FBI agent John Connolly eased his beat-up Plymouth into a parking space along Wollaston Beach. Behind him the water stirred and, further off, the Boston skyline sparkled. The ship-building city of Quincy, bordering Boston to the south, was a perfect location for the kind of meeting the agent had in mind. The roadway along the beach, Quincy Shore Drive, ran right into the Southeast Expressway. Heading north, any of the expressway's next few exits led smack into South Boston, the neighborhood where Connolly and his -contact" had both grown up. Using these roads, the drive to and from Southie took just a few minutes. But convenience alone was not the main reason the location made a lot of sense. Most of all, neither Connolly nor the man he was scheduled to meet wanted to be spotted together in the old neighborhood.

Backing the Plymouth into the space along the beach, Connolly settled in and began his wait. In the years to come Connolly and the man he was expecting would never stray too far from one another. They shared Southie, always living and working within a radius of a mile of each other in an underworld populated by investigators and gangsters.

But that came later. For now Connolly waited eagerly along Wollaston Beach, the thrum of the engine a drag to the buzz inside the car that was like an electric charge. Having won a transfer back to his hometown a year earlier, he was poised to make his mark in the Boston office of the nation's elite law enforcement agency He was only thirty-five years old, and this was going to be his chance. His big moment in the FBI had arrived.

Thenervy agent was coming of age in an FBI struggling with a rare public relations setback. In Congress inquiries into FBI abuses had confirmed that the late FBI director J. Edgar Hoover had for years been stockpiling information on the private lives of politicians and public figures in secret files. The FBI's main target, the Mafia, was also in the news. Swirling around were sensational disclosures involving a bizarre partnership between the CIA and the Mafia, also unearthed during congressional investigations. There was talk of a CIA deal with mafiosi to assassinate Cuba's Fidel Castro, and of murder plots that involved poisoned pens and poisoned cigars.

Indeed, it suddenly seemed like the Mafia was everywhere and everyone wanted a piece of the mysterious and somehow glamorous organization, including Hollywood. Francis Ford Coppola's movie masterpiece, The Godfather, Part II, had played to huge audiences when it opened the year before. A few months earlier the picture had won a slew of Oscars. Connolly's FBI was now deeply into its own highly publicized assault on La Cosa Nostra (LCN). It was the FBI's number-one national priority, a war to counter the bad press, and Connolly had a plan, a work-in-progress to advance the cause.

Connolly surveyed die beachfront, which at this late hour was empty. Occasionally a car drove past him along Quincy Shore Drive. The bureau wanted the Mafia, and to build cases against the Mafia, agents needed intelligence. To get intelligence, agents needed insiders. In the FBI the measure of a man was his ability to cultivate informants. Connolly, now seven years on the job, knew this much was true, and he was determined to become one of the bureau's top agents-an agent with the right touch. His plan? Cut the deal that others in the Boston office had attempted, but without success. John Connolly was going to land Whitey Bulger, the elusive, cunning, and extremely smart gangster already a legend in Southie. The stylish FBI arriviste wasn't the type to take the stairs. He was an elevator man, and Whitey Bulger was the top floor.

The bureau had had its eye on Bulger for some time. Previously, a veteran agent named Dennis Condon had taken a run at him. The two would meet and talk, but Whitey was wary. In May 1971 Condon managed to elicit extensive inside information from Whitey on an Irish gang war that was dominating the city's underworld-who was allied with whom, who was targeting whom. It was a thorough, detailed account of the landscape with an accompanying lineup of key characters. Condon even opened an informant file for Whitey. But just as quickly, Whitey went cold. They met several times through the summer, but the talks-didn't go well. In August, reported Condon, Whitey was "still reluctant to furnish info." By September Condon had thrown up his hands, "Contacts with captioned individual have been unproductive," he wrote in his FBI files on September 10, 1971. 'Accordingly, this matter is being closed." Exactly why Whitey ran hot then cold was a mystery Maybe the all-Irish nature of the intelligence he'd provided had proved discomforting. Maybe there was a question of trust: why should Whitey Bulger trust Dennis Condon of the FBI? In any event, the Whitey file was closed.

Now, in 1975, Condon was on the way out, his eye on his upcoming retirement. But he'd brought Connolly along, and the younger agent was hungry to reopen the Whitey file. After all, Connolly brought something to the table no one else could. He knew Whitey Bulger. He'd grown up in a brick tenement near the Bulgers' in the Old Harbor housing project in South Boston. Whitey was eleven years older than Connolly, but Connolly was oozing with confidence. The old neighborhood ties gave him the juice others in the Boston office didn't have.

Then, in an instant, the waiting was over. Without any warning, the passenger side door swung open, and into the Plymouth slipped Whitey Bulger. Connolly jumped, surprised by the suddenness of the entry, surprised he was caught unaware. He, a trained federal agent, had left his car doors unlocked...

Table of Contents

Cast of Charactersix
Part 1
2South Boston17
3Hard Ball33
4Bob 'N' Weave42
5Win, Place, and Show55
Part 2
6Gang of Two?75
8Prince Street Hitman109
9Fine Food, Fine Wine, Dirty Money121
10Murder, Inc.139
11Bulgertown, USA155
12The Bulger Myth170
13Black Mass193
14Shades of Whitey205
15Connolly Talk217
16Secrets Exposed231
Part 3
17Fred Wyshak249
18Heller's Cafe261
19In for a Penny, in for a Pound276
20The Party's Over291

What People are Saying About This

James Carroll

James Carroll, author of An American Requiem and Boston Globe Columnist
This is a heartbreaking and enraging story of corruption and crime, but it has its heroes, especially Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill. These reporters were among the first to shine light on the shadowy collusion of heinous murderers and an FBI cut loose from its moral center. Now, with this powerful book, Lehr and O'Neill bring the whole story into the open. Black Mass is a work of rare lucidity, high drama, journalistic integrity, and plain courage.

Michael Patrick MacDonald

Michael Patrick MacDonald, author of All Souls: A Family Story From Southie
More than an exposé on the abuses of power, Black Mass tells of the shameful betrayal of all things decent by two of our own native sons who climbed the ranks of both the underworld and the FBI. The good qualities of loyalty and pride that were raised on in Southie, were manipulated and perverted for their own gain as they promoted a culture of drugs, denial, and death on our streets. Lehr and O'Neill give us all the details with a journalistic precision that does not sacrifice the power of the story. After reading Black Mass, you might wonder if any of us really knows who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Black Mass 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 82 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A must read!! But there is so much left out!! Take this case of a young man sucked up in this mess and see if it meshes with this book,which is a good read and very informative... The man was employed professionally and around the time Whitey split town was suddenly fired. Just before this an attractive woman had befriended him at Northeastern University, linked also to R Robert Popeo and Agent John Morris. When the man was fired the woman started suddenly taking mysterious trips and acting in a manner suggestive of infidelity while alleging marriage intentions. Before each mystery trip the man was treated with special kindness, as if to assuage guilt over the emotional betrayal soon to follow. This man had as a socil worker a woman who went by the name of a female FBI agent mentioned in Lehr's work on this topic. After Whitey fled, his prior employers blackballed him on job references and his car was tampered with a la Eddie Moiano. IRS audits and levies soon followed as well as sudden bank deposit discrepancies at Fleet Bank, which also harbored IRS accounts at the time. In addition the man's phone line indicated third party interception and screening. As part of this process, the man was called on job interviews which appeared to be nothing more than pretense interviews to gather information or desired evidence on the man. For example, the man was called to a software company offering real-time monitoring and messaging capability such as for chats.When he got there no one knew him or why he was there but a waist level camera pointed down at him seated in the reception area garnered his photo. Prior to the interview, the man had received overlaid spiteful messages during online chats visible only to him- an alleged capability of this software.At other companies videos were made of him or handwriting samples obtained. Following the alleged fiancee, several other women with similar behavior patterns emerged while new male friends appeared on the scene indicating later after a befriending period that they had kept notebooks on the man or had watched him go to the health club,do banking etc. The man had no criminal history and did not know any principles in the Bulger case but was later informed by these suspicious new friends that he was to blame for the Bulger fiasco. Dan Burton was unavilable for comment on the man during the congressional hearings.The man received threatening and harassing calls but local police were unable to help. Why all of this? Prior to all this, the man had been featured in a local newspaper story detailing his search for who his father was and all the obstacles stemming from that.
Guest More than 1 year ago
1) Has the former business partner of Rocco Solimeno and associate of Cogliano, a supporter of Cellucci waged war against a possible child of Whitey Bulger or some other principals in this case? 2) Has the government harassed a possible child of Whitey by controlling the means of income and therefore also use of credit in an effort to utterly destroy the child or have the Bulger forces done this to a child perhaps of one of their victims? 3) Is a man who has been devastated since the onset of this case a target of pro-Angiulo/Patriarca forces? 4) Could the concealment of Whitey's whereabouts be the efforts of both FBI and Justice Department forces,similar to their withholding info from the government reform committee? 5) Have the official records of a child raised in state care and possibly the key to the whole Bulger case been sanitizedby state officials and subcontractors and does the appointment of Jeff Locke to head such an agency by Cellucci have anything to do with this?
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is intriguing but tries to cover too many bases. I know of someone who grew up in state child care and was bounced around often,breaking up friendships and ties along the way beyond his control. This person was assigned a social security number by an alleged government official and as he bounced around was told different stories about what happened to his friends he had to leave behind. Since 1995 there have been several individuals who have befriended this person, claimed ties to the FBI then proceeded to harm the person. In 1989 this man was hit and run only later to come across that same man using a different name and who alleged to have worked for the federal government killing people.This alleged former govt employee also asserted detailed knowledge of the witness protection program and appeared to have contacts within the justice department capable of leaking information. When this person attempted to review state records the records were refused then later sanitized or disappeared. IRS audits followed as well as unexplained bank record tampering and strong indications that his phone was being monitored and/or tampered with. This person has no criminal background. Mr. Dan Burton of the investigating Government reform committee might do well to find this man and interview him as well as Marty Meehan who has served on the National Security committee and whose office may have shunned this man's requests for help, as there appears a very strong link to the Whitey Bulger case. Perhaps this man is the child of someone deeply involved in this case but this is unknown to that man who has become a target since Bulger disappeared.If i were Burton i would demand a full accounting if the government has knowledge of such a child and has been using this child as some form of blackmail or coercion.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In this case we see how a covert operation can be carried out and its participants dispensed with when the job is done. The government is shredding Flemmi's family apart, turning relatives against one another. It seems plausible a number of players now prevalent in the Bulger case are in fact long term plants held in abeyance until the time is right, such as with Martorano and Weeks. An acquaintance who has been totally destroyed since Bulger fled in 1995 has been approached by individuals claiming family ties to the upper tiers of local and national FBI managementwhile having been misled by the Justice Management Division of the Department of Justice. These approaches usually involve intimidation or extortion with the deliverers claiming FBI affiliation in the Merrimack Valley region of northern Massachusetts which includes a regional FBI office outside of the Boston office. Has the Defense Investigative Service and FBI teamed up to squeeze a child of Bulger or a close friend of Bulger's to keep Bulger away? Are Whitey Bulger and Flemmi's names being smeared to bringclosure to their roles in a covert operation?
MarkAllen98 More than 1 year ago
Judge Cullen was related to a Condon family(Dennis Condon?) and also oversaw a case involving a youngster of 4-5 years old who was later shuffled around in state child care while his legal guardian maintained contact with the Woburn court throughout the child's life. The child had as a social worker "Debbie Richards" with the same Washington street address as the Debbie Richards mentioned in O'Neill & Lehr's 'Black Mass'. Was a child sick with leukemia given treatment in exchange for cooperation with the federal government or treatment given in lieu of murder or incarceration of the child's father? Was the father of a sick child with leukemia manipulated by the federal government as well as the child and the child's mother murdered just before Bulger fled and the child subject to persecution on nearly every front following Bulger taking off? Was the child manipulated while in state child care with agencies such as the New England Home for Little Wanderers by being placed into abusive families with false information as a way to manipulate cooperation of the father? The child lived in the same polluted neighborhoods as the kids in this book at the same time and was also treated at the same hospitals. These records began disappearing when this book came out as well as a massive flip-flop of individuals in the man's life.
Chester Long More than 1 year ago
Poor e-publishing. Not 1photo of main characters! Otherwise a great read
Guest More than 1 year ago
In the 1960s, a boy ('X') was shuffled around in multiple states, threatened with his possible murder by a man alleged to be the driver for one of the gangsters listed in this case.In the 1970s the boy was befriended by a caseworker attached to a subcontractor for Massachusetts who arranged a social security number for the boy while bouncing the child around foster homes who repeatedly threatened and intimidated the boy over a period of years in the late 1970s. Whitey signed up in the mid-1970s. In the 1980s, 'X'now a teen, lived in Middlesex county while another person going by the same name and same town popped up and began having his mail diverted to this new man's address. Over the next 10 years, this man appeared to follow the teen as he became a man, calling his workplaces and leaving his name, moving to the same towns, and even attending the same church wherever this boy went. Once 'X' was nearly arrested for being AWOL, as this man was in the army and had used his address. In the 1990s 'X' had a local newspaper article detailing his search for his unknown father.Not long after the editors and reporting staff changed and claimed no knowledge of their predecessors. After that, the man lost his job, began getting getting threatening calls and to be followed by men in suitsas well as plainclothes. on at least one occasion one of the plainclothes men was referred to as 'Mr. Ring'. An older man moved into the apartment complex beside 'X' and across from a unit where a woman claiming to do ' acccounting for the government' lived.This man had Tennessee license plates,carried a revolver and claimed to work construction. Weeks later the man was seen driving a phone company truck and moved out immediately afterwards.But not before being seen laying cables from his apartment to the one across the hall.Barry Mawn, formerly of a Tennessee FBI office,was newly assigned Boston SAC. 'X',attending Northeastern University,suddenly began having problems with some instructors who appeared to have an unknown hostility to 'X'.Northeastern is where Agent Morris and R.Robert Popeo had affiliation. In addition to having many.many problems with his phones,'X' began courting malice from a group of 10(10 is the number of alleged secret witnesses against Whitey)who used threats and intimidation and coercion to keep the man constantly in fear and blamed him for 'what is going on..' in the Bulger case. Since all of this,the man has been destroyed completely financially and careerwise and questions have been raised if FBI personnel have been monitoring the man and interfering with employment and communications as well as assuring financial destruction(like a state trooper was by Bulger).The man went to the Justice Department to seek help and was blown off by the Justice Management division while taps and traces by local police were ineffective against the hostile calls. Additionally, the man repeatedly got daily blank phone messages from a phone linked to MBNA offices in Florida, where Paul Rico lived and which corporation Louis Freeh later became a senior Vice President of. Since ,Trooper Foley, the champion in this case, has retired, the Government Reform hearings are closed, and there seems to be no one who can hold the FBI accountable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It usually dosen't take me to long to read a book but this one is a bit boring. I think the authors crowded the main ideas and occurances with details and drag the book out. This book dosen't really go anywhere and I lost interest about half way through. I don't recommend this book if you wanted the big picture.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Black Mass is an outstanding book that I read within a week of receiving it. Although it is set in Boston, it is not a prerequisite to have lived, gone to college, or know someone who lives in the Commonwealth. The tales of FBI corruption take the reader beyond the typical Mafia story, explaining the allure that we all have with this genre. The detail and anecdotes rapidly explain FBI agent, John Connolly's fascination with his childhood hero, Whitey Bulger. Bostonians in particular are given the opportunity to see Whitey through the semi-unbiased eyes of the two authors. Most of this story could be gleaned from Boston Globe articles throughout the late 1980s and 1990s (some of which were written or researched by the authors themselves); however, this compilation provides further insite to those who hunger for the story beind the story. This is a great book for those interested in the complete story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A classic example of how ego and desire for fame could corrupt. Connally is perhaps the biggest criminal of them all for violating the oath he took to uphold the Constitution.This book shows the lengths individuals will go to self promote and not care one iota about what they are doing or the impact there acts will have on other sometimes innocent individuals. This book makes me wonder what other deep dark secrets have been hidden away for years by our federal law enforcers. This book should make every one wonder about the sincerity and honesty of law enforcement officials when we deal with them on legal matters. How many of these so called informants are roamning the streets thanks to the F.B.I. and other law enorcement agencies. The authors did an outstanding job tracking and documenting their sources and information. They are to be commended for their diligence and I appreciate their opening my eyes even wider to the unethical and sometimes illegal workings of our government.
Anonymous 6 months ago
very well researched and put together even with the complexity of the case, length of time this took place and hundreds of names to keep track of.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Scary. Fascinating. A must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I get that its a Whitey Bulger book, but every other page flemmi is mentioned, so why wasnt Kevin weeks? He was around Bulger more than Flemmi
JRFL More than 1 year ago
Interesting journalistic account of the Bulger Mob and its connections to the government. Good insight into how Bulger used those connections to destroy the Italian Mob in New England. A bit of a turn around for an Irish gang in the 20th Centuary. J.R. Locke Author of Possible Twenty, a Gangster Tale.
Inquisitive86 More than 1 year ago
Went to Boston, heard about this book. Good book. Glad I purchased it. Very insightful
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago