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Paddy Whacked: The Untold Story of the Irish-American Gangster

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  1,327 Ratings  ·  101 Reviews
Here is the shocking true saga of the Irish American mob, from the mid-nineteenth century all the way to the present day. History shows that the heritage of the Irish American gangster was established in America long before that of the more widely portrayed Italian American mafioso, and has held strong through the modern age. In fact, the highest-ranking organized crime fi ...more
Hardcover, 442 pages
Published February 15th 2005 by William Morrow
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Nov 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
The focus of most true crime books is usually narrow, centering on a particular criminal and/or crime(s). Paddy Whacked is a different beast, much more ambitious, taking a healthy swipe at being something larger: a criminal history of a people and culture, starting in the mid-1800s, and coming up to the near present (2003). In this period, author T.J. English provides you with quite a few colorful characters, and mayhem galore. Given the nature of the subject, there's a healthy (but understandab ...more
BAM The Bibliomaniac
True Crime Commemoration # 27
Oct 28, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime, history
For all the acclaim it's received, I was very disappointed with this book. The general background on the Irish gangster seems well researched but when you get down to specifics the whole effort falls way short. Errors abound throughout (Bugs Moran was actually not Irish but the son of French-Canadian immigrants and Chicago's North Side mob could hardly be considered an Irish gang), fictional dialogue is employed throughout (thankfully sparingly), and the supposed long rivalry between Irish gangs ...more
Jun 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
Some great tales in here, but the narration is deeply handicapped by grammatical errors, and worse than that, a ton of horseshit, recreated dialogue on the part of the author. This book could lose 70 pages easily, and be all the better for it.
Oct 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Learned a lot especially about Joe Kennedy and his long time relationship with the Italian mob
Carmaletta Hilton
The actual content was very interesting, but the manner in which it was given was lacking. In the first half of the book, English proved that he was definitely not a biased journalist. He wasn't just giving us a history. He was telling us the story of his heroes. English looked up to these guys so much that he even tried to make Mad Dog Coll look sympathetic. When he wasn't extolling the greatness of these early Irish criminals, he was making sure to tell us how much greater they really were tha ...more
Jill Hutchinson
Jan 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-history
The sons of Erin depicted in this history of the Irish mob are some pretty nasty boyos. Immigrants flocked to the US to escape the horrible conditions in Ireland brought on by the potato famine and crowded into Boston, New Orleans, and NYC. Those with ambition had three options: politics, police, or crime, all of which were tied together by the close bond of Irish brotherhood.The author traces the careers of some of the most famous and dangerous of these gangsters who controlled the cities, stat ...more
victor harris
Oct 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although it is the Italians who are typically associated with powerful organized crime syndicates in American urban areas, it was actually the Irish who established the template for such organizations. As early as the pre-Civil War, it was Irish gangsters who infiltrated the power structures in New York City. Among the earliest hailed from the infamous Five Points area as depicted in film. By later in the century they would be associated with the Tammany Hall political machine. Similar networks ...more
Michael Cullen
Mar 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a well researched and well written book that follows what the author calls the "Irish Mob" in the United States from its beginnings in New York City's Five Points section. English follows it all the way through Prohibition to the demise of what were, arguably, the last two real "Irish Mobs" in America; The Westies of NYC and the Winter Hill Gang of Boston, eventually led by the still fugitive James "Whitey" Bulger.

He describes how Irish gangs came into being as a response to anti-Irish
Aug 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: nonfiction
I read this book at the urging of a friend, who knows that i love all things irish... PaddyWhacked covers Irish gangs in America, from the 1800's mass immigration and the height of the Five Points (think "Gangs of New York"-- the book clarifies many of those characters), to the formation of the unions, the irish in local politics and how "the machine" worked, bootlegging and moonshining, interactions with the italian mafia, the rise of the Kennedys, the foundation of the FDNY, and all the way up ...more
Ken Avin
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book as it went through the history of how the Irish came to America to escape the Potato Famine and were treated as inferiors, even more so than blacks, and how this led to the formation of Irish gangs in some of the Larger ports and cities in America. This book touches on Irish relations with Cosa Nostra and Jewish gangs, and also delves into the Irish involvement in the labour movements. The book ends with Whitey Bulger still being "at large", which now he has been capture ...more
A very detailed overview of the Irish mob from the time of the potato famine to the early 2000s. The book goes through several different eras of organized crime in America and shows how the Irish were involved in one way or another. Some of the details and names of people come so fast that you almost glaze over them, but others get the full mini-biography treatment. A good overview of a very broad topic delivered in an interesting form by someone who clearly did a lot of research.
Trey Malone
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a thorough take on the history of Irish organized crime. What I appreciated the most about English's research is how well he connected politics to gang violence. The stories surrounding the early political machines will stick with me, and are likely to become key fixtures in my lectures on public choice economics.
Maurice Sullivan
The Irish in America

I was fascinated by the history revealed by the author as I was born in 1933 during the end of prohibition and while my family was recovering from the stock market crash my parents were very closed mouthed about the events going on in our city I will continue to research that turbulent time it was a 5 star read
May 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent review of pertinent information regarding the Irish mob in America. Whitney Bulger has since been caught but that doesn't stop the impact of the book.
David Strenfel
Informative. In-depth preview into the Irish Underworld in America.
David Oswalt
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very informative
Oct 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I may as well quit denying that I am not a gangster book groupie – looking through my library I just have so many different books on various aspects of the underworld that I have to throw my hands up and say I am all in when it comes to a good non-fiction book about the underworld.
Paddy Whacked did not disappoint. While so many of the books focus on the Italian’s and the Sicilian’s, there are many, many aspects of the underworld that go by the wayside but whose stories are either closely intertw
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book works hard to give you a broad understanding of the Irish mob in America, and I would argue that it does this better for the early periods of time that it covers, which is essentially the mid-1800s forward. The reason for this is the author is forced to rely on historical documents and it's much more rooted in fact. The closer you get in time in the book to The present, the more source testimony starts to creep in. That's not a bad thing, but it definitely starts to color the book and m ...more
Amy Eighttrack
Apr 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good, well researched book with a surprisingly comprehensive breadth. I didn't read the whole thing. Any detailed mob history would be a bit a gruesome; and when you get the broader picture, some of the minutiae seems unnecessary. Still, it's good for the historians interested in more specific cases; and it does address well a very broad subject.

Some of what I found particularly interesting reading was: Tammany Hall in New York; the use of mob goons in strike-breaking; the background and
I am evidently one of the few people not fascinated by organized crime. I see nothing romantic about gangsters or their activities and think that celebrating it in writing just encourages people to emulate essentially ugly and violent people. Plus I typically find most stories about organized crime raciest and bigoted. If I came from one of the ethnic groups typically maligned in these books I would be insulted.

That said, this book was recommend to me primarily because the recommender thought it
Oct 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ryan by: my Dad
Much more fascinating that I expected it to be. Very suspenseful at times and some really great non-fiction narrative. The Westies gang of Hell's Kitchen that finishes the book, is particularly great, which should be expected as the author wrote an entire book about just them. The storytelling gets under your skin, and you start looking at the city life around you differently. It's not just a book about the Irish mobs, but also a look into the Irish immigrant experience and how they moved from o ...more
Oct 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Out there somewhere, Whitey exists as a relic, or ghostly reminder, that no criminal underworld in the history of the United States started as early or lasted as long as the Irish Mob."

This is such a cool historical book.

Well researched and engaging this book details the history of the Irish Mob and its demise. It also lays the historical groundwork to explain why James Joseph "Whitey" Bulger, Jr. was such an influential gangster. There's interesting anecdotes about various mobsters throughout
I liked it. I found the bootlegging material was interesting, the Kennedy connections were intriguing, the Irish history made me want to learn more (I found my next book - Paddy's Lament - in his list of references), but as a whole it didn't fit together terribly well. I feel like it could have been better if he chose one topic and focused down on it, or came at it from 5000' above, but as he tried to do both, neither came off as good as it might have otherwise.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the
Feb 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
It took me a very long time to read this book! It was a very interesting look into the lives of the Irish Mob from the last century or so. I think it took me about seven weeks to read it only in that, I would read a few pages, be introduced to ten people, only to find that several pages later, they got whacked... It dragged a little for me in the middle... It seemed it held the same type of storyline, introduce people, explain the no-good things they were up to, introduce the people that will ki ...more
Aug 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loves mob stories, gangsters, or U.S. History
T.J. English really has a way of pulling you into a story. All through this book I felt as though I knew exactly what it was like for the Irish Americans in the mid 1800s until present. He explains how many Irish started on the road to crime and why, and established the framework for the Irish Mod to come. With chapters on some of the most famous Irish gangsters such as Jack "Legs" Diamond, James "Whitey" Bulger, George "Bugs" Moran, Owney Madden, and the man who started it all, John "Old Smoke" ...more
May 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book is an overview of the Irish and their part in organized crime. The narrative starts in the 1840s with the Irish Potato Famine and the formation of gangs in New York City such as the Dead Rabbits. New Orleans in the 1850-80s, Chicago 1880-1910s, Kansas City are all covered. The Al Capone War against the O'Banion gang during Prohibition is scintillating reading. The expulsion of the Irish from organized crime starting in 1929 is detailed. Chapters are devoted to Joseph Kennedy and his var ...more
Feb 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime, history
T.J. English’s Paddy Whacked: The Untold Story of the Irish American Gangster is the story of the rise and fall of Irish-American organized crime, from its origins in the second half of the 19th century to the downfall of Whitey Bulger. English’s book is well-researched and detailed which makes for an interesting and informative read. However, at times, the book also walks a fine line between attempting explain the appeal and support the mob had among certain sects of society and whitewashing th ...more
May 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For anyone interested in the rise and fall of the Irish American Gangsters, this book is a must read. It goes well beyond English's earlier volume "The Westies", which dealt with the Hell's Kitchen (NYC) branch of the overall history of the Irish gangster. This book covers the wider aspects of the group, whose activities ranged from New Orleans, Cleveland, Boston and Chicago. It is very well-researched and the author's writing style makes it read almost like a crime thriller rather than a histor ...more
Jul 03, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The last true crime book I enjoyed as much was, well, TJ English's The Westies. His newest chronicles the history of Irish gangsterism in America, from 18th century potato famine immigrants to Boston bad boy Whitey Bulger. TJ English takes you on a terrific ride, through several major American cities (even Kansas City--who knew the dark side of the Irish were there, too?), enlightening you to think about history in a new way, ie, maybe the Mob really did have something to do w/the assassination ...more
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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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