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Library JournalHow to sum up 50 years of writing? Mailer's 31 books since 1948some great, some infuriating or silly, but none of them safehave held him a consistently high place among postwar American writers; in between his novels, his charismatic accounts of political conventions, prize fights, demonstrations, and moon landings effected a sea-change in magazine journalism, launching a thousand self-referential copycats. No subject ever seemed outside Mailer's swaggering intelligence as he evolved from young war-novelist to Existential essayist riffing above the cultural storms. Mailer doesn't need to stake his claim as a novelist or social critic: This sprawling reader does both, following Mailer's two careers by presenting novel excerpts set chronologically and thematically among his most memorable nonfiction, right up to his account of the 1996 campaign. In another half-century, will he be remembered as a great novelist or a gifted man of letters who divided his talent? Readers who don't balk at this collection's heft (1279 pages) may decide for themselves. This compilation is an ego indulgence, but even Mailer's indulgences are lucid and surprising.
--Nathan Ward, Library Journal