For Boston Globe journalists Kevin Cullen and Shelley Murphy, the motivation for doggedly pursing the story of alleged Boston crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger is simple: to put some skin on Bulger’s mythical bones.
“We tried to attack the myth with facts,” Cullen said during a recent visit to campus to discuss the pair’s best-selling book “Whitey Bulger: America’s Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him to Justice.”
In a talk before a crowd of about 100 people at the Inn & Conference Center, Cullen and Murphy described how they chased down information, combed public records and private correspondence and interviewed Bulger’s friends, associates and neighbors to piece together a picture of the man who is now awaiting trial for federal racketeering charges and his alleged role in 19 murders. (View photos from the event
The authors traced Bulger’s life from his childhood in South Boston’s hardscrabble Old Colony housing project to his current existence in an 8-by-12-foot cell at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility.
“It amazed me how much he was able to compartmentalize his life,” said Murphy.
In a lively discussion with the audience, the authors fielded questions about the case, which has captivated the public’s attention for years, and then signed copies of their book. Their visit was presented by UMass Lowell’s Department of English and Center for Arts and Ideas in partnership with the Boston Red Sox and Great Fenway Park Writers Series. During their visit to campus, the authors also met with journalism and writing students.
Craig Cincotta, a junior English major, attended the authors’ talk with his father, Michael, of Billerica.
“My father has always been interested in Whitey Bulger’s story, so when I heard about this event I asked him if he wanted to go,” Cincotta said. “The talk was really interesting.”