American Tabloid (American Underworld Trilogy #1)

( 23 )

Overview

We are behind, and below, the scenes of JFK's Presidential election, the Bay of Pigs, the assassination - in the underworld that connects Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, D.C.... Where the CIA, the Mob, J. Edgar Hoover, Howard Hughes, Jimmy Hoffa, Cuban political exiles and various loose cannons conspire in a covert anarchy... Where the right drugs, the right amount of cash, the right murder, buys a moment of a man's loyalty... Where money, power, influence and even the Presidency of the United States are up for ...
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American Tabloid: Underworld USA (1)

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Overview

We are behind, and below, the scenes of JFK's Presidential election, the Bay of Pigs, the assassination - in the underworld that connects Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, D.C.... Where the CIA, the Mob, J. Edgar Hoover, Howard Hughes, Jimmy Hoffa, Cuban political exiles and various loose cannons conspire in a covert anarchy... Where the right drugs, the right amount of cash, the right murder, buys a moment of a man's loyalty... Where money, power, influence and even the Presidency of the United States are up for grabs... Where three renegade law enforcement officers - a former L.A. cop and two FBI agents - are shaping events with the virulence of their greed and hatred, riding full-blast shotgun into history... The same blistering language, relentless narrative pace and nothing-spared rendering of reality that have marked James Ellroy's other best-selling novels are here once again, and in electrifying abundance. And now he puts them to work in a novel more shocking and daring than anything he's written before: a secret history that zeroes in on a time still shrouded in secrets and blows it wide open.

By the bestselling author of The Black Dahlia and White Jazz comes this explosive and acclaimed new novel that goes inside the Kennedy years. Mob bosses, politicos, snitches, psychos, fall guys, and femme fatales--in the early '60s, they're mixing up a molotov cocktail guaranteed to end the country's innocence with a bang.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Although it follows his L.A. Trilogy chronologically, Ellroy's visceral, tightly plotted new novel unfolds on a much wider stage, delivering a compelling and detailed view of the American underworld from the late 1950s to the assassination of JFK. Demythologizing the Camelot years, Ellroy (White Jazz) depicts a nexus of renegade government agencies, mobsters, industrial tycoons and Hollywood players fueling the rise and fall of the Kennedy administration. The story hinges on the entanglements of three 40-something government mercenaries who play major, behind-the-scenes roles in such events as the Bay of Pigs and the assassination of the president. Suave and sybaritic Kemper Boyd pimps for JFK while carrying out simultaneous undercover work for the CIA, FBI, Robert Kennedy and the Mob. Hulking, sadistic ex-L.A. cop Pete Bondurant, a hired killer for Jimmy Hoffa, digs dirt for a drug-addled Howard Hughes while training a cadre of bloodthirsty, anti-Castro Cuban exiles off the Florida Coast. Idealistic FBI wiretapper Ward Littel, following a series of disastrous anti-Mafia operations, becomes a Machiavellian mob lawyer. All three rub shoulders with an enormous cast of real-life characters, including clever, two-dimensional portraits of the Kennedy family, J. Edgar Hoover and Jack Ruby. Exercising his muscular, shorthand prose, Ellroy moves the narrative from break-in to lurid assignation to brutal hit job in a tightening gyre that culminates in the murder of the president. While not especially convincing as revisionist history, this is a cool and riveting evocation of a cultural epoch abounding in government surveillance, endemic corruption and yellow journalism. BOMC and QPB selections; author tour. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Critics either adored or abhorred Ellroy's last crime novel, White Jazz, for its gritty subject matter and "word jazz" prose. American Tabloid, a fictional examination of the conspiracy-to-end-all-conspiracies-the assassination of JFK -will contain more of the same.
Bill Ott
James Ellroy's great gift as a writer is his ability to view history from the bottom up. Appetites, he has shown us again and again--but especially in his L.A. Quartet of crime novels--are what drive human events: money, power, and sex lurk behind every headline, and to follow their trail is to expose a slippery umbilical cord of sleaze connecting high life to low life, ideological posturing to the fundamental hungers that define us all. Given this worldview, it was inevitable that Ellroy would come eventually to that paradigmatic tabloid moment in American history: the assassination of JFK. Forget Camelot, grassy knolls, and Oliver Stoneish righteous indignation: Ellroy's story reads like your typical office power struggle gone bad. At the center of it all are three extremely bent law-enforcement types: two FBI agents and an ex-L.A. cop turned CIA operative. The labyrinthine machinations that take these three through multiple coalitions involving JFK, RFK, J. Edgar Hoover, Howard Hughes, Jimmy Hoffa, various mobsters, and a few boatloads of anti-Castro Cubans are detailed in Ellroy's signature staccato style. His short sentences and shorter paragraphs read as if fueled by the Benzedrine that propels the central characters in their various moves and countermoves Narcotics of all kinds are omnipresent in Ellroy's books, but the most potent drug of all--the most energizing and the most debilitating--is always power. Writing about powerful people is difficult for a novelist who does it unflinchingly because power works against empathy. We never care about powerful characters with the same passion we care for those abused by power, but we are fascinated by them and feel the allure of their addiction. That's especially true here. It's as if Ellroy injects us with a mainline pop of the undiluted power that surges through the veins of his obsessed characters. Though he is thought of as a crime novelist, Ellroy is really a political novelist, and like the best of the breed, his work has no politics. Is his version of who killed JFK believable? Probably, but the real message behind this profoundly disturbing, utterly intoxicating book is how trivial a question that really is.
From the Publisher
"A supremely controlled work of art." —The New York Times Book Review

"Hard-bitten. . . . Ingenious. . . . Ellroy segues into political intrigue without missing a beat." —The New York Times

"Vastly entertaining." —Los Angeles Times

"Compulsively readable. . . . Hard to forget." —Chicago Tribune

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780449224540
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/28/1996
  • Series: American Underworld Trilogy , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback

Meet the Author

James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles in 1948. His L.A. Quartet novels The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz, were international best-sellers. His novel American Tabloid was Time magazine's Best Book (fiction) of 1995; his memoir, My Dark Places, was a Time Best Book of the Year and a New York Times Notable Book for 1996. He lives in Kansas City.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 23 )
Rating Distribution

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(12)

4 Star

(8)

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(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 3, 2012

    Good book but......

    This review has nothing to do with the book. It has everything to do with tech. support. I spent 3 hours trying to solve a problem with my Nook. You can't understand the foreign call center operators. The lines are so noisy you can't hear. I got cut off 3 times and had to go through the menus over and over again. If it wasn't for the Nook itself I would cancel my account. Foreign call centers suck.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2013

    Brilliant

    Why didn't I read this guy before? There must be some kind of excuse I can offer, but I honestly can't think of one. Sure, there are writers of what most people generalize as the genre of crime fiction who are gifted;Elmore Leonard comes to mind rather immediately. And many are entertaining. But I don't know of any who can transmute the base metal that is the inherent nature of the genre into real gold. Ellroy does just that. His work has literary merit in the real sense of the definition of literature.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2013

    Great book!!! Even better the second time around because Ellroy

    Great book!!! Even better the second time around because Ellroy is a little hard to get used to. Very highly recommended! Also, if you enjoy Ellroy check out the L.A. quartet!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2012

    Anonymous

    Syntax made this hard to get into. Thought since it got a good review on NPR it would be a good read. Found it hard to get innto and after 200 pages decided not worth the read and I rarely ever not finish a book.

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  • Posted June 17, 2010

    AMERICAN TABLOID is great !

    A great read. AMERICAN TABLOID is the second novel I've read by James Ellroy and I can't wait for the next one to come in the mail. If you have a lengthy airplane flight, Ellroy's novels will make the trip seem short.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2010

    Excellent Historical Thriller

    This was one of the more original books that I've read in a long time. Ellroy's vision of the times and events surrounding the assasination of John Kennedy make it a fascinating read. The dialogue is very colorful to say the least. I totally recommend this book, and plan to read the other two books in Ellroy's trilogy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2007

    A reviewer

    This is to me, one the finest crime genre books I've ever read. Elroy does the Hammet/Chandler thing better than they do. His prose is like a time capsule. It literally sizzles.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2003

    Very interesting

    The first twenty pages are different - it takes almost that much time to grow accustomed to Ellroy's style of writing, which is short and to the point. Forget description - you won't find much in this book. If you enjoy political thrillers and action, this is an excellent book. I look forward to reading more of Ellroy's work.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2001

    A must for scandal fans!!!

    One of the best books I have ever read. Wonderfully entertaining, I couldn't put it down. I strongly recommend it to anyone that is interested in Kennedy, Hoover, CIA, etc.

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