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By Dick Lehr

Black Mass : the real tale of an Unholy Alliance among the FBI and the Irish Mob by way of Dick Lehr and ONeill Gerard . HarperCollins Publishers,2000

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For Connolly, Flemmi was a hand-me-down, but Bulger was his own, a coup for the FBI in Boston. It was a beast of a deal, a high-five achievement, with Connolly in charge of two midlevel gangsters positioned to assist the FBI in its stated campaign to cripple the Mafia enterprise. But the new deal hardly meant Whitey would curb his style. In fact, just five weeks after the Whitey Bulger informant file was opened officially on September 30, 1975, Whitey chalked up his first murder while on FBI time.

The clannishness was part of the salt air. It was why John Connolly of the FBI could quickly resume an easy relationship with an archcriminal like Whitey Bulger. Certain things mattered. Beyond common ethnic roots, the magnet of daily life was the Catholic Church. Everything revolved around it. Baptism. First Communion. Confirmation. Marriage. Last rites. Wakes. On Sundays, a day apart, parents went to early mass and sons and daughters attended the children’s mass at nine-thirty. There was a natural cross-fertilization with politics, with one of the first steps toward public office sometimes being the high-visibility job of passing the hat along the pews.

It wasn’t just Southie. Boston’s economy had calcified, and well into the 1940s, the formative years for the Bulger boys and John Connolly, the city was a hapless backwater down on its luck. Its office buildings were short and dreary and its prospects dim. Income was down, taxes were up, and business was lethargic. The city was afflicted by the legacy of a ruling oligarchy of Brahmins who lost their verve. The dynamic Yankees of the nineteenth century had given way to suburban bankers indifferent to downtown, a generation of cautious coupon clippers who nurtured trust funds instead of forging new businesses.

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