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The Westies: Inside New York's Irish Mob (1991)

The Westies: Inside New York's Irish Mob (1991)

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3.93 of 5 Votes: 5
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0312924291 (ISBN13: 9780312924294)
st. martin's paperbacks

About book The Westies: Inside New York's Irish Mob (1991)

I first became interested in The Westies when I saw a program called "True Crime" on the History Channel. That particular episode was about the Westies and I was somewhat glued to my television (which is very rare ... usually I don't even turn the thing on any more). But this particular episode's story was so intriguing that I felt I had to know more so I bought the book. The Westies was gang that had as its home New York's Hell's Kitchen, home to many Irish-American immigrants and also controlled by a series of Irish organized crime gangs. Traditionally, these gangs followed certain codes of respect and deference, but as the author notes, it seems that after Vietnam, with the rise of a new generation, the old ways sort of went out the door and violence was the rule of the day. Enter young Jimmie Coonan -- a local boy, hotheaded and dangerous, with vengeful ambitions to take out the current head of the Irish mob in Hell's Kitchen, Mickey Spillane (not the author). His idea of killing was not only to do the deed, but then to "do the Houdini" -- meaning making the body disappear by dismemberment. Then add Mickey Featherstone, another local boy who had some serious mental issues & tended to solve his problems with knee-jerk violence. With other people working for them, they began a long reign of violence, extortion, murder, you name it. But Coonan decided that for them to get anywhere, they needed to hook up with the Italian mob. I won't go through the entire story but as it turns out, eventually a betrayal of trust leads one member down the path to become an informer. However, the criminal story is not 100 per cent of this book..English traces the attempts made by law enforcement agencies to take down these guys. I do have to also remark on the sad state of the justice system at the time as portrayed in this novel...Featherstone does several murders and walks? The details are amazing and this one another one of those books I had trouble putting down. My problems with this book stem from the fact that it seems somewhat biased in favor of Mickey Featherstone, who by his own admission was a cold-blooded, psychopath who did his share of killing. I find it hard to be sympathetic towards someone like this or to excuse their previous behavior just because he may have been rehabilitated later. All in all, a fantastic book. I'm looking forward to reading more about the topic and more books by this author. Recommended, for sure.

Quick: what ethnic group do you think of when you think "organized crime"?Probably the Italians, whether fictional like Don Corleone or the Sopranos; or real ones like Al Capone, John Gotti, "Sammy The Bull" Gravano, etc. Maybe a follow-up thought would be Jews -- whether as organizers for the Italian mob, or in their own organizations like Murder, Inc.You probably didn't think of the Irish.But maybe you should.The book takes us inside the Hell's Kitchen gang that the press dubbed "The Westies", focusing in particular on Mickey Featherstone, one of the central members, who eventually turned into an informant.But none of that explains the appeal of the book. The crime details are disturbing and specific, the dialog is blunt and not -ing printable, and the cast of characters (so to speak) includes the hoods, cops, lawyers, politicians, and just folks from the neighborhood.On a personal note, I knew that Hell's Kitchen used to be very violent, but I didn't realize a lot of the violence was in the '70s and '80s when I was growing up (in a different part of Manhattan).

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It's been a while since I've read a book that i could not put down and this is it! It took me a second to get past the slanginess of the writing but ultimately the tone and cinematic style of it got me further entreched in the story and was a naturally and completely compelling way to tell it. and what a story. so many twists and turns with the added bonus that it's true and happened in my neighborhood. (the front cover is my corner). constantly surprising and completely absorbing. was like having an A&E or TruTV True Crime Special in my book bag. Loved it!

I can't believe this shit actually happened, that these guys were real people. Organized crime has always been an alluring place, at least in the movies but the truth is, it's a scary place. Everybody is underneath someone else's thumb. Pinned down and willing to do whatever dirty work will get them in with the crew and above all make them lots of money. T.J. English is a hell of a reporter. The writing is just as engaging as if you were watching State of Grace (obviously drew it's inspiration from The Westies legend) or Goodfellas.

A fairly dry rundown of events with numerous forgettable characters. Overall the book was enjoyable, but I don't feel like I read this with the love that I've read other books. I would forget about entire events and characters, even though the author tries to remind you who the characters are whenever reintroducing one. Maybe nonfiction stories aren't for me, but I don't think that's the case. I think it's more so that this particular book just encompassed too much for me to really care to keep it all straight. Overall The Westies was enjoyable, but I would imagine there are far better books about gang life that should be looked at first.

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