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While writing for The Boston Globe, Prof. Dick Lehr and his colleagues investigated one of the nation’s most notorious criminals: James “Whitey” Bulger, head of the Irish mob in Boston. That reporting provided the basis for the New York Times best-seller: Black Mass: The Irish Mob, The FBI and a Devil’s Deal, which Lehr co-authored with Gerard O’Neil (’70). Since the Federal Bureau of Investigation apprehended Bulger in Santa Monica, Calif., on Wednesday, June 22, Lehr has provided background information and analysis on Bulger for many local and national media.

An excerpt from a Q&A with BU Today:

Tell us about following the story as a Globe reporter.

We got into it way back in 1988. In many ways, it’s hard for anyone to put themselves back to the time when Whitey Bulger was not a rat, and he was considered to be a lovable crime boss and gangster. That was a result of the FBI agents’ enormous PR skills in spinning the story that Whitey was the good bad guy, the Robin Hood of the underworld. The notion that he would be a rat was unimaginable for an Irish gang boss. Our reporting began peeling away at that onion and revealed that he indeed had a relationship with the FBI. It was a story and a fact that took people a long time to accept because it was so unimaginable. But by the early ’90s, there was a genuine federal investigation and all this started tumbling out. It was all true, and it went deeper and darker and more hideous than you could imagine.

Read the rest of the interview in BU Today.

Lehr and O’Neil have reached agreement with Crown, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group at Random House, to author the definitive biography of Bulger. The publication schedule of the yet untitled book will be based on Bulger’s trial date.

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