James "Whitey" Bulger was murdered last week. He was 89 years old and he was serving a life sentence in federal prison for 11 murders.

So who was Whitey Bulger, and what makes him so important that he would get so much publicity? Federal inmates die all the time and the media pays zero attention.

Bulger was killed in the maximum security section of Hazelton Federal Prison in West Virginia. He was the third inmate murdered there this year, but we only know about the other two because of Bulger's violent death.

There is a whole industry that has developed around Bulger and his criminal career in Boston. He was a racketeer and a sadistic murderer. He was the brother of William Bulger, the President of the Massachusetts State Senate and then the president of the enormous state university system. Whitey Bulger was a drug dealer who built a false public reputation as the man "who kept drugs out of South Boston." He was a top echelon informant for the federal government while he was using the FBI to eliminate his criminal competition.

The top expert on Bulger and his activities is Boston Herald columnist and radio talk show host Howie Carr. Carr spent decades covering crime and politics in Massachusetts and he has written some fascinating books about Bulger, Inc. The best place to start learning about Bulger is with his book The Brothers Bulger. If you only have time to read one book on this topic, make it that one.

Howie Carr has written two other books about members of Bulger's gang of criminals. His book Hitman is an incredible book because Carr partnered up with John Martorano to write it. Martorano's previous business partner was James "Whitey" Bulger, and their business was murder and racketeering. Martorano was fooled by Bulger and was shocked to find out that Bulger was an informant for the FBI while they were working together. Read Hitman after The Brothers Bulger, and before you read Rifleman. Steven "The Rifleman" Flemmi was Bulger's partner in crime and informing, and the book Rifleman is all about Flemmi.

Another place to learn about Bulger and his world of crime and informing is with the work of Michele McPhee. She is an author and an investigative journalist. She broke the story of Bulger's murder last week. She has extensive knowledge about the FBI's use of informants in criminal and terrorism cases. Check out her book Maximum Harm about the terrorist bombing of the Boston Marathon and the role of the FBI in that investigation. Follow her for breaking news on Twitter @MicheleMcPhee - that is where she told us the news that Whitey was dead.

If you don't feel like reading, then you can watch the movie Black Mass for a basic understanding of the nightmare that Whitey Bulger inflicted on Boston. The book Black Mass is even better than the movie, but the movie is quicker.

The story of Whitey Bulger is too important to forget.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at chris.mccarthy@townsquaremedia.com and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. 

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