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With Where the Bodies Were Buried, New York Times best-selling author T.J. English completes his unprecedented non-fiction trilogy of books that cover – collectively — the full sweep of the Irish Mob in America.
From the era of the Irish Potato Famine in the late 19th Century, through the Prohibition years, right up to and including the trial of James “Whitey” Bulger in Boston, the Irish Mob held sway. The Irish Mob Trilogy lays bare this epic saga and presents a staggering cast of strivers, hoodlums and crime fighters. The three books that constitute the trilogy – The Westies (1990) Paddy Whacked (2005) and Where the Bodies Were Buried (2015) – represent a major literary accomplishment, and also happen to be entertaining as hell.
The story begins in the Five Points, in lower Manhattan, where destitute exiles from the Great Famine formed the earliest street gangs. These gangs partook of the various criminal rackets of their day – illegal gambling, thievery, prostitution, and extortion – but they also laid the groundwork for a criminal structure that was to become deeply embedded in the world of politics. Political organizations such as Tammany Hall utilized the financial bounty from criminal rackets and brute force to elect politicians and advocate for those represented by “the Tiger,” as the organization was known.
This intermingling of underworld commerce, American capitalism and politics would become the foundation for what is now referred to as “organized crime.”
Prohibition was the hey day for the Irish American gangster, not only in New York but across the nation in New Orleans, Chicago, Boston, Kansas City, and other municipalities. The Irish Mob became a force in the arenas of labor, politics, law enforcement, and gangsterism. At times, Irish mobsters worked in consort with the Mafia and other underworld factions; at other times, they were in competition with the Italians. This volatile and bloody sub-narrative to American history is referred to by T.J. English as “the war between the dagos and micks,” with a body count that surpasses many wars.
Through the Depression, the post-war years of the 1940s and 1950s, and right into the latter decades of the 20th Century, the story of the Irish mob remained largely a hidden history until author English devoted the better part of twenty-five years to uncoiling this yarn. His trilogy brings the story into modern times, through the especially violent era of the last Irish Mob in New York — The Westies — and the infamous story of Whitey Bulger in Boston, which English chronicles through an account of the trial that brought Whitey down, and in so doing signaled the end of a criminal tradition that had lasted more than a century.
The Irish Mob Trilogy by T.J. English stands as the most complete exploration of this history ever presented by an author, historian or storyteller.