Battle of the Bulger

By ADAM REILLY  |  December 16, 2009

"I had a little experience being attacked, day in and day out," adds Bulger. "After a while, some of the folks in power see you as a chance to further their careers. They say: 'This guy is bad! He's getting away with it!' They have only a superficial understanding of things. But it's relentless. And at some point, you shut it off."

Bulger's hope, it seems, is that the passage of time will prompt a new, more generous assessment of his own life. "We do not look as favorably on politicians of our own day," he writes in James Michael Curley, "as on those who have braved the political tumult of their own day."

He's correct — but only to a point. When problematic politicians like Curley become emblems of a bygone era, judgment is often tempered with nostalgia. Sometimes, though, the process works in reverse, with the passage of time facilitating criticism or simple disinterest. If Bulger wants the definitive last word on his life and career, he'll have to emerge more fully from the shadows — including his brother's.

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