"T.J. English, one of the great reporters of our time, has outdone himself with this amazing panorama of strivers and thugs.  The continuities over nearly two centuries are so striking that the past seems improbably clear. Paddy Whacked is a page turner and a revelation."

– Luc Sante,
author of Low Life

"Compulsively readable…."

USA Today

"A riveting history of Irish thug life inextricably linked to some of America’s most cherished institutions."

– Michael Patrick MacDonald,
author of All Souls

"A colorful history of Shamrock gangdom... captivating... T.J. English gets his Irish up."

– Tom Robbins,
The Village Voice

"An admirable counterweight to the bullet-splattered romances of Mafia Lit... Very entertaining... intriguing.  Where Paddy Whacked truly sings is in the vivid closing chapters about the charming and murderous Whitey Bulger."

Chicago Sun-Times

"Entertaining and useful... compelling... memorable.  Nothing has been tried on this scale before. Lovers of true-life gangster books will find plenty to like... [T.J. English] has created some remarkable portraits, fascinating chapters in his ambitious and rewarding history."

– Nathan Ward,
New York Sun

"Sets the record straight...  An intense, erudite yet sometimes horrifying account of violent Celtic criminals who make the Dead End Kids look like choirboys."

Publishers Weekly

"Compelling history…"

San Francisco Chronicle

"A fun read for anyone who is interested in the history of crime in America...  Gritty and horrific...  English does an admirable job of bringing to life some of the most famous Irish American gangsters... and is on equally solid ground when examining the lives of the men who built and sustained the great urban political machines."

California Literary Review

"A swell read, and an instructive one...  An attention-grabbing book... told by a master storyteller and facile, observant writer who has explored in depth the context of his subjects... fascinating."

Toledo Blade

"Exhaustive... English shines in his depiction of recent gangs and gangsters."

Buffalo News

"A truly encyclopedic account of the rollicking rise of Irish American gangsters.  And boyo, what a whale of a tale it is... Painstakingly researched... an awesome work of scholarship – and an outrageously enjoyable read...  English is a master storyteller, and the Irish American outlaws have provided him with 200 years of marvelous material."

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

"Goes down like a series of ales and whiskey chasers, consumed to a soundtrack of violent ballads sung by someone who knows how to bring a laugh and a tear...  English marshals his material for maximum storytelling."

The Flint Journal

"A fascinating combination of biography, ethnography, and social history... compelling, honest and startling."

Richmond Times-Dispatch

Paddy Whacked cover
The Books sectionhead


The Untold Story of the Irish American Gangster

PAPERBACK: 468 pages
PUBLISHER: Harper Paperback
ORIGINAL PUBLISHER: Regan Books (2005)
ISBN-10: 0060590033
ISBN-13: 978-0060590031
ONLINE PURCHASE: Harper | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Borders | Indiebound


Click to Close ⊗
February 14, 1929. The St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Jack "Legs" Diamond lived his life as a haunted man. Whitey Bulger (on right) in a law enforcement surveillance<br/> photo alongside his criminal parter Steve Flemmi. Mugshot of Danny Greene, Cleveland mobster. The body of Danny Greene after being
blown up by a car bomb.


Here is the shocking true saga of the Irish American mob, from the mid-19th 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 figure on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List — alongside Osama Bin Laden — is not a wiseguy, a Latin King, or a gangbanging Blood or Crip, but an old-style Irish American mob boss from South Boston.

In Paddy Whacked, bestselling author and organized crime expert T.J. English brings to life nearly two centuries of Irish American gangsterism, which spawned such unforgettable characters as Mike "King Mike" McDonald, Chicago's subterranean godfather; Big Bill Dwyer, New York's most notorious rumrunner during Prohibition; Mickey Featherstone, troubled Vietnam vet turned Westies enforcer from Hell's Kitchen; and James "Whitey" Bulger, the ruthless and untouchable Southie legend. This is an epic story of corrupt politics, wanton murders, gambling empires, notorious brothels, tough women, and hard-drinking pugilists from the underbelly of America's most dangerous cities — including New York, Boston, New Orleans, Chicago, Kansas City, and Cleveland.

Combining storytelling verve with thorough research and a slew of never-before published material — including new interviews with former gang members — English presents a riveting, seamless cultural history of the Irish American underworld. He offers a brilliant portrait of a people who fought tooth and nail for a better life from the moment they arrived in America, whether it meant taking charge within the realms of law enforcement and politics — from Tammany Hall to the White House — or capitalizing on what opportunities they could in the darker world beyond the law. Paddy Whacked is an irresistible tour of the undercarriage of our history — a ride that stretches from the arliest New York and New Orleans street wars through decades of bootlegging scams, union strikes, gang wars, and FBI investigations... and along the way deepens our understanding of the American experience.

In its initial hardcover release, Paddy Whacked was on the New York Times extended bestseller list, and the book was adapted into a two-hour documentary first shown on the History Channel in 2006 but repeated in subsequent years every St. Patrick's Day.