By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Shelley Murphy talks about her Whitey Bulger book


Update: This, by Northeastern’s Matt Collette, is much better than my tweets.

Shelley Murphy has been chasing the notorious gangster James “Whitey” Bulger since she was a young reporter at the Boston Herald. Now a Boston Globe reporter, she and Globe columnist Kevin Cullen are the authors of a new book, “Whitey Bulger: America’s Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him to Justice” (Norton).

Murphy, who graduated from Northeastern one year after I did (I won’t say when), spoke on campus today before a packed room in Snell Library. She shared some great stories — some funny, some harrowing. I live-tweeted the event, and offer some of what she said below.

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  1. Tom Harrow

    With all due respect to the loyalty you display to a former classmate – I would like to point out that she is basing her book almost entirely on fabrications, hearsay and what she has been fed by prosecutors intent on making their case with no regard for truth. I encourage you at the very least to read some of the information on this very astute blog:

    the comments in particular, on previous posts, are worth reading. I look forward to your thoughts on it. Thanks

    Tom Harrow

  2. Mike Benedict

    I eagerly read the book last week. It is well written, and a good summary and timeline of both the myth and reality of Whitey Bulger, and it doesn’t get sidetracked by all the ancillary characters (Weeks, Flemmi, Connolly, Morris, Billy Bulger, countless Italian mafioso, etc.), each of whom is a story unto themselves. But in my opinion, it broke very little new ground. If you’ve read “Black Mass” and kept at least mildly up to date with the newspaper reporting since his capture, you probably already have 95% of the picture. That Whitey has a persecution complex and feels hostility toward those who incarcerated him is no big surprise.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Yes, for anyone who hasn’t read it, “Black Mass,” by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill, is terrific. And they have a new book out called “Whitey: The Life of America’s Most Notorious Mob Boss,” which I suppose is competing with Cullen and Murphy’s book.

  3. I’m usually fascinated by people like Whitey Bulger but for some reason the only part of his story that interests me is how both he and his brother gained such different kinds of fame in Boston – I think that is a compelling story in itself. Outside of that I feel like he reached his limit on my attention a long time ago. If Martin Scorsese can’t make him interesting (and he didn’t) no one can.

  4. Mike Benedict, if you would like to have a cup of coffee with me and Shelley we can show you 100 plus pieces of new information in the book, that have never been published before. Most significantly is Whitey’s own words, contained in letters he has written only since his arrest in 2011. They give you insight to his thinking, which is not in the plethora of books written previously. Tell us where you drink your java and we’ll be there. Ask Dan. He’ll vouch for us.

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