American Tabloid (Underworld USA Trilogy #1)

American Tabloid (Underworld USA Trilogy #1)

4.2 25
by James Ellroy
     
 

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CHOSEN BY TIME MAGAZINE AS ONE OF
THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
"ONE HELLISHLY EXCITING RIDE."
—Detroit Free Press
The '50s are finished. Zealous young senator Robert Kennedy has a red-hot jones to nail Jimmy Hoffa. JFK has his eyes on the Oval Office. J. Edgar Hoover is swooping down on the Red Menace. Howard Hughes is dodging subpoenas and digging

Overview

CHOSEN BY TIME MAGAZINE AS ONE OF
THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
"ONE HELLISHLY EXCITING RIDE."
—Detroit Free Press
The '50s are finished. Zealous young senator Robert Kennedy has a red-hot jones to nail Jimmy Hoffa. JFK has his eyes on the Oval Office. J. Edgar Hoover is swooping down on the Red Menace. Howard Hughes is dodging subpoenas and digging up Kennedy dirt. And Castro is mopping up the bloody aftermath of his new communist nation.
"HARD-BITTEN. . . INGENIOUS. . . ELLROY SEGUES INTO POLITICAL INTRIGUE WITHOUT MISSING A BEAT."
—The New York Times
In the thick of it: FBI men Kemper Boyd and Ward Littell. They work every side of the street, jerking the chains of made men, street scum, and celebrities alike, while Pete Bondurant, ex-rogue cop, freelance enforcer, troubleshooter, and troublemaker, has the conscience to louse it all up.
"VASTLY ENTERTAINING."
—Los Angeles Times
Mob bosses, politicos, snitches, psychos, fall guys, and femmes fatale. They're mixing up a molotov cocktail guaranteed to end the country's innocence with a bang. Dig that crazy beat: it's America's heart racing out of control. . . .
"A SUPREMELY CONTROLLED WORK OF ART."
—The New York Times Book Review

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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780804114493
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/30/1995
Series:
Underworld USA Trilogy Series, #1
Pages:
531
Product dimensions:
4.22(w) x 6.89(h) x 1.07(d)

What People are saying about this

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

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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American Tabloid (American Underworld Trilogy #1) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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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brools15 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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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Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Bucktail More than 1 year ago
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.