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The Westies: Inside New York's Irish Mob

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,701 Ratings  ·  118 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, 416 pages
Published 2011 by Road (first published 1990)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nancy Oakes
May 16, 2008 Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 13, 2012 Kevin rated it did not like it
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
Jevron McCrory
Apr 18, 2016 Jevron McCrory rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If the story told in this historical novel is true (and it's largely based on fact, as I am led to believe), this proves the ethos espoused by the mythical Keyser Soze in the movie, The Usual Suspects. You don't need money, guns or even numbers, you just need the will to do what the other guy won't.

The infamous Westies (a name the media and police gave a gang of west Manhattan Hell's Kitchen Irish crooks) never comprised of more than twelve members at any one time and yet, their reputation and i
Jan 09, 2016 Diane rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-stories
"The Westies" was the name given by the press and the police to a group of Irish mobsters working out of Hell's Kitchen from the late 60s to the late 80s. Led by Jimmy Coonan, this violent gang of psychopaths terrorized their small section of New York City, leaving a trail of bodies behind. Coonan started out by wanting revenge against gang leader Mickey Spillane (not that Spillane!), who had pistol-whipped Coonan's father. The gang was responsible for an estimated 60-100 murders.

It's easy to g
Dec 28, 2011 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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",
Oct 22, 2008 Matthew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 22, 2008 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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.

Oct 08, 2014 Barbikat60 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Okay, T.J. English is a bit over dramatic but he tells a factual story of low class Irish kids growing up in the mean streets of NYC and how they fell into the "easy way to live" as opposed to working hard and educating themselves. This book is a clear cut example on how certain crimes are a result of class as opposed to race.
There is a rare group of ethnic people in NYC that that has not been involved in gangland style crime. You can trace New York's criminal past to before the era of the Five
Hashim Qureshi
interesting enough if you care about the irish mob. unfortunately i stopped caring about half way through.
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
Nov 05, 2012 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 04, 2012 Caitlin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
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
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
Apr 26, 2012 Renee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 24, 2014 Dianne Barragan rated it really liked it
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.
Hannah  Messler
Ugh this is that kind of old-fashioned (1990) crime writing where the author thinks it's real exciting to just carefully and ploddingly paragraph after paragraph dramatize full imagined days in the lives, which is I'm sorry unreadable. Jaysus. Loads of cool grisly horrific shit in here but it's buried beneath too many suffocating layers of that aggravating false forced reportorial mundane detail overload.
Mar 14, 2009 Stacie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Feb 09, 2014 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 23, 2014 Beverly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Jimmy Coonan and Mickey Featherstone gave Hell’s Kitchen its name. In the mid-1970s, these two long-time friends take the reins of New York’s Irish mob, using force to give it power. Jimmy, a charismatic sociopath, is the leader. Mickey, whose memories of Vietnam torture him daily, is his enforcer. Ugly book with no meaningful theme.
Frank Radin
Feb 27, 2007 Frank Radin rated it really liked it  ·  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
Marvin Lopez
May 28, 2014 Marvin Lopez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 29, 2016 SycoBabel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe this shit actually happened, that these guys were real people. Organized crime has always been a fascinating place, at least in the movies but the truth is, it's a scary world. Everybody is underneath someone else's thumb, pinned down and constantly scrambling to do whatever dirty work is required to advance their chances of survival. All those promises of loyalty and commitment to the crew go right out the window at the mere mention of making money; and these guys would do anyth ...more
Sep 28, 2015 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was looking for a decent non-fiction book on crime and picked this one up. This is about an Irish gang coined The Westies out of New York. The book follows a group of gangsters from the sixties to the late eighties and in the most recent edition, gives an update to where people are at in the almost present time.

T. J. English is an engaging reader that weaves this mess together pretty well. Those followed are not glamorized or vilified, with the story being told in a matter of fact way.

Robert Byington
Nov 18, 2015 Robert Byington rated it it was amazing
Well researched

Well documented account of a criminal underworld that most people never knew existed. Makes real events read like the best mystery novel!!!!
Dec 31, 2011 jersey9000 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Jun 11, 2012 Dustin rated it it was ok
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.
Feb 03, 2014 Sebastian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was pretty neat. A non-fiction telling with lots of facts and reasonable embellishments to add to the story.
Mariann Lawrence
Jan 09, 2016 Mariann Lawrence rated it it was amazing
Good read!

If you're interested in mafia\mob history this is def a good book to read. I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it!!
Nov 11, 2014 Aubrey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
Wow, this book starts off slow and meandering. But it gains speed in the middle. And towards the end, you're shaking your head at what is happening. It's predictable yet has twists you can't believe are real.

I spent a summer in Hell's Kitchen once. It was great. I love you can picture the actual places where all this took place. That also captures my interest.

I do recommend this book to true crime readers. It does start out slow but it also builds very well. And by the end, you really do feel a
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The wild, wild Westies!!! 1 27 Mar 03, 2009 06:31PM  
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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 New York Times bestsellers, including THE SAVAGE CITY, HAVANA NOCTURNE, PADDY WHACKED, and his most recent book WHERE THE BODIES WERE BURIED. In 2013, a collection of his journalism was published under the title WHITEY'S ...more
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