Skip to main content

Whitey on Trial: Secrets, Corruption, and the Search for Truth

Review

Whitey on Trial: Secrets, Corruption, and the Search for Truth

The courtroom drama that persisted throughout the summer of 2013 has been captured in Margaret McLean and Jon Leiberman’s WHITEY ON TRIAL. The theatrical feel of the book made me think I was sitting alongside the victims and spectators as they toiled through the “trial of the century.” It rivaled the suspense of its 2006 movie counterpart, The Departed, which is based on Bulger’s exploits.

The story builds from the opening day walk through courthouse security to the long wait for the elevator. As it continues, McLean and Leiberman create a beautiful visual of people piling in through the courtroom door, while many others were turned away towards the overflow rooms that waited. It quickly spurs ahead into the drama that would consume all who were in attendance.

"WHITEY ON TRIAL made for the most enjoyable read of 2014 thus far. Like a good suspense novel, this real-life drama will dazzle you with its ability to make you feel for all the characters in it."

The festivities would quickly heat up as James “Whitey” Bulger’s defense team set out to expound upon the government corruption in Boston, and to defend their client’s stance that he was not an informant. The government prosecutors lined up their case in grand fashion as star witness after star witness, most of whom were former Winter Hill Gang members, arrived to testify against a man they once considered a friend. Each one was given a sweetheart deal so that they would testify against the man they once called their friend and leader.

Bulger’s long, sorted history came to light for all to see. The most sought-after fugitive in the United States, just below Osama bin Laden, faced a jury of 12 that he felt was rigged against him from the start. The intensity of the courtroom action reached a boiling point on a couple of occasions as Bulger and his former cohorts clashed from their seats. One spectator even attempted to charge a witness on the stand because of that individual’s comments.

Bulger’s trial was not allowed to be videotaped, so this is one of the few recordings that exist concerning what happened in the courtroom. WHITEY ON TRIAL will make readers continue to flip through the pages, unable or unwilling to stop. It certainly made me give in to its gripping narration and dialogue. McLean and Leiberman set a very crisp and unbiased tone throughout the trial. The reader is privy to certain interviews and letters only obtained by the authors, who received a handwritten letter from Bulger, as well as confronting the key witness left out of the trial.

Fans of the “Law & Order” programs should turn off their television sets and unsheathe this book. All the suspense and mystery surrounding the trial are certain to keep you busy long after you put it down. It will alter the way you look at stories, the manner in which the government handles what they consider “high priority” cases, and how the American justice system needs to be looked at.

WHITEY ON TRIAL made for the most enjoyable read of 2014 thus far. Like a good suspense novel, this real-life drama will dazzle you with its ability to make you feel for all the characters in it. And despite the severity of the crimes detailed here, the book will let your imagination run wild with the truth.

Reviewed by Robert Doyle on March 21, 2014

Whitey on Trial: Secrets, Corruption, and the Search for Truth
by Margaret McLean and Jon Leiberman

  • Publication Date: February 25, 2014
  • Genres: Nonfiction, True Crime
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books
  • ISBN-10: 0765337762
  • ISBN-13: 9780765337764