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Whitey on Trial: Secrets, Corruption, and the Search for Truth
by Margaret McLean & Jon Leiberman
Forge, $25.99, 384pp
Published: April 2015

"Whitey on Trial" is a non-fiction accounting of what went on at the trial of Whitey Bulger, an Irish-American organized crime boss and FBI informant, the real life man behind the character Johnny Depp played in "Black Mass".

However, rather than just looking at his crimes, it also examines the government’s actions. It is said that some representatives of our government were just as damaging as Whitey’s reign of terror. John Connolly, FBI agent, now sits in federal prison, and fellow FBI agent John Morris and many others notably looked out for themselves. Their personal agenda meant more to them than human beings.

Just because the good guys were often bad guys, that doesn't mean that the bad guys weren't bad guys too. Witness after witness, one after the other, spoke of the horrific and brutal conduct of Whitey Bulger, Stephen Flemmi and the Winter Hill gang’s accomplices, many of whom the government was aware of at the time because they were also informants.

"Whitey on Trial" is comprised mainly of a summary of the court transcripts from the trial, with the authors interjecting themselves into the story from time to time with their thoughts on what was to come during the trial. A little extra value comes from a letter from Bulger and an interview with John Connolly, but I think it’s safe to say that, since this story focuses mainly on those crimes Bulger with which he was specifically charged, it’s not a full and accurate accounting of his life.

Some prior background knowledge of the players is definitely needed and I had trouble getting through the book as I wasn't up to date on the case history and didn't have a clue who most of the people involved were. Annoyingly, the book didn't supply that information.

This is a good book when reporting on the actual trial of Whitey Bulger. It's not the book you need if you want to know what led up to that trial or the complex relationships between the FBI, Boston police, mob and mafia during his reign. ~~ Dee Astell

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