The Westies: Inside New York's Irish Mob
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The Westies: Inside New York's Irish Mob

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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  1,128 ratings  ·  102 reviews
In the tradition of The Godfather, The Westies is a powerful tale spanning 60 years. A gang of Irish-Americans, the Westies patrolled Manhattan's West Side throughout the '60s, '70s, and '80s. They ruled the tough blue-collar neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen, where bodies were known to literally fall from the sky.
Kindle Edition
Published 2011 by MysteriousPress.com/Open Road (first published 1990)
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Nancy Oakes
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 controll...more
Kevin
I purchased this one on a Kindle daily deal and I think I got burned. My enthusiasm when I started was pretty high and then just a few pages in it began to fall, and continued falling until the very end when I just kind of flipped through the epilogue.

My disappointment sprang from a misunderstanding: I thought this was a work of non-fiction. I was expecting to read some fairly dry but interesting text about the Westies, maybe some good direct quotes brought up during proceedings, etc. Instead I...more
Robert
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",...more
Matthew
an interesting read. really gets into the life of one of the nororious tough guys to come out of modern day hell's kitchen - Francis 'Mickey' Featherstone. It starts with a prologue AND A MAP (and I can NOT stress this enough - authors, when you reference a specific geographic area over and over again, with specific places, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE include a map for my reference!) The prologue jumps you right to the end, so you know where this moral tale ends up (which might be helpful if you hadn't...more
Joe
Read this in less than two days, great read which reads more like a piece of very good mafia/mob fiction. The scary thing is it's true !

Very fast moving & brutal account of the rise & eventual demise Westies mob within Hells Kitchen New York City.

Recommended for all true crime / mafia lovers out there.

Marieke
I decided to rate this book because i think it's unlikely that i'll return to it. It started out nicely and i had expected to really like it. But compared to similar books i've read, this one is not very good. It might even be awful. I think the author needed to find a style before writing this story, because the style(s) he used felt very confusing and began to seriously grate on my nerves. The author seemed to switch from a journalistic style, which would have worked really well had he stuck w...more
Peter
If you enjoy true crime and mob stories The Westies is a must. There seem to be two main staples in the true crime genre, Italian Mafia and bikers. The Westies is a different take. The book is about the Irish mob in Hell's Kitchen through the 70s and 80s. They were just as, if not more, ruthless than they're Italian counterparts and had the same great 'characters' leading their outfit. There are other books that cover The Westies but to me this is the most detailed and tells the story the best....more
Caitlin
T.J. English is one of the best writers of true crime reporting that is a leap above the usual cheap paperbacks full of gory pictures that you see at the grocery store. His books are well-written, well-researched, and as much about the context of the crime or organized crime group that he is writing about.

The Westies is his first book. In it you can see him working through all the things that will make his later books so fascinating. While he's written most about organized crime, he's continuing...more
Victor Carson
The Westies was written in 1990, just after the gang that had dominated the Hell's Kitchen section of NYC was broken up by major city and federal murder and racketeering trials. The gang, which was active from the 1960s through the 1980s, was a throwback to a gang known as the Gophers, who "were themselves a throwback to an earlier era of gangsterism when, in the late nineteenth century, New York City was at the mercy of nearly a dozen ruthless street gangs concentrated in the notorious Five Poi...more
Renee
This was Mr. English's first book and it is thoroughly engrossing and amazing. He has a very smooth, easy to read narrative style, that includes good use of conversation. He captures the flavor of this notorious, dangerous group of individuals and really brings a human face to Hell's Kitchen's gangsters. It really is a worthwhile book to read. Not only from a modern history standpoint but from a human standpoint--the names in this book are the names we all grew up hearing about. It is especially...more
Dianne Barragan
Interesting read

I guess ever since I saw Goodfellas, I've been kinda obsessed with organized crime. The book has a good sense of truth to what movies show. it was nice getting a more detailed account of what people behind the mobs or mafia go through. Since there are a lot of characters in the book, I did get lost a few times and found myself going back through the book trying to figure out what character was which and how they were important. I had fun reading it.
Stacie
The Westies describes the history of the Irish mob in Hell's Kitchen, which was the lower west side of Manhattan in the early-mid 20th century. T.J. English discusses the psyche of these Irish gangsters well, and provides a personal look at the violence through the eyes of Mickey Featherstone, considered the number-two man in the Irish mob.

The writing isn't spectacular, and at some points it's hard to have any emotional connection to the story because the violence is discussed in such an off-ha...more
Jason
A great story of these ruthless gangsters that ran the west side. An interesting, entertaining, quick read.

The story started off a little slow, but I do not agree with a lot of the reviews that say characters in the story are introduced and cast off never to return or that the author takes too much liberty with describing events that take place. The characters are colorful and always add to the story. They help to set the stage to immerse you in the Hell's Kitchen area of NYC in the 70s and 80s....more
Frank Radin
Feb 27, 2007 Frank Radin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: yes
West side NY from the 30's to the 50's where the westies resided was a place like no other. The mob has nothing on these Irish wiseguys who thought nothing to put a bat to your head if you were late on your payment or if you just walked the wrong way. These gamblers, loansharks, hit men and straight up criminals all had something in common...... they did not fear death or anyone who thought they carried it in the form of a gun, knife, or bat.
This book will bring you through New York's own wild w...more
Marvin Lopez
I've seen some comments on here that dislike the authors taste in writing as they feel it may read more as "thuggish" storytelling. But essentially that's exactly what this is, a story of the Westies. Personally, I enjoyed the fact that the author kept me engaged through the language that he used. He told me a story about the Irish Mob through the lens of an Irish. Using they're vocabulary to paint the picture of the streets and the neighborhood known as Hell's Kitchen.

I don't care for a book t...more
Matthew Lippart
Quick piece of advice- skip the godawful prologue, which delves into shlocky "true crime" territory. It was so bad . . . but after that, when the book settles in, I was hooked. Growing up in Jersey, it was very interesting to read about these criminals (and to vaguely recall the news about them at the time). A neat look at a strange time in New York, and one that would probably not happen again. Traces both the history of the Irish mob and the changing demographics of Hell's Kitchen itself. Some...more
Dustin
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...more
Michael Mandaville
A very good and insightful book on Mickey Featherstone and Jimmy Coonan. One of the oldest Irish criminal gangs in New York.
Sebastian
This was pretty neat. A non-fiction telling with lots of facts and reasonable embellishments to add to the story.
Fil
Really enjoyed this, hard to believe this is his first book. I enjoyed this more than Havana Nocturne which was a stellar read.
Mark
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 havi...more
Syco
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 f...more
Anne
Thanks Nadine for lending!
Stephan
Very interesting read.
John Owen
Read a long time ago.
Lostinanovel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Noel
The real question is, who doesn't love books about the mob, or in this case, a gang less organized, and way more ruthless, than the mob. Are genitals cut off a person's body and stuffed into a jar, then paraded around in a bar? Yup. Is a gun stuck up a person's butt, and then fired? Yup. If you're not already hooked, then consider the fact that this book is actually well researched, and competently written. Mix it all together and you've got a recipe for a goodread.
Jwm
Not particularly well written, but the subject matter is fascinating and brutally described. These people were sick psychopaths and endlessly fascinating as a result. This is a piece of old New York history that is important to remember, and that is often overlooked in the shadow of the Italian mob.

And no matter how Disney-friendly they make Times Square, remember that it will always belong in the shadows of the legacy of men like Mickey Featherstone.

Gary Cabana
MUST-READ crime story for all New Yorkers as it details the rise & fall of West Side Manhattan's most notorious Irish crime syndicate.

Due to the large amount of witness testimony and undercover surveillance, this book reads like non-fiction while providing a dramatic structure not unlike "Serpico" or other well-written crime novels.

Some gory details may not be for the timid, but genre fans should make this a one-sitting read. Check it out!
Matt
Great book by one of my favorite authors. Outlines the Irish Mob in the 70s called the Westies. Mickey Featherstone and Jimmy Coonan. Featherstone an ex Vietnam Marine, and Jimmy Coonan a phsychopathic killer known for dismemberment.

This has a good combination of detail, background and action. Interesting story of the boys from Hell's kitchen in it's hayday. Recommend this book and several others from T.J. English.
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The wild, wild Westies!!! 1 27 Mar 03, 2009 06:31PM  
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904440
T. J. English is an author, journalist and screenwriter with an emphasis on organized crime, the criminal underworld, and the criminal justice system. Many of his books have been national bestsellers, including THE SAVAGE CITY, HAVANA NOCTURNE, PADDY WHACKED, and THE WESTIES. In 2013, a collection of his journalism was published under the title WHITEY'S PAYBACK, an anthology that includes articles...more
More about T.J. English...
Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba & Then Lost it to the Revolution The Savage City Paddy Whacked: The Untold Story of the Irish American Gangster Born to Kill: The Rise and Fall of America's Bloodiest Asian Gang Whitey's Payback and Other True Stories of Gangsterism, Murder, Corruption and Revenge

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