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American Tabloid: Underworld USA (1) [Paperback]

James Ellroy
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 24 2001
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 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. . . .

James Ellroy's trademark nothing-spared rendering of reality, blistering language, and relentless narrative pace are here in electrifying abundance, put to work in a novel as shocking and daring as anything he's written: a secret history that zeroes in on a time still shrouded in secrets and blows it wide open.

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American Tabloid: Underworld USA (1) + The Cold Six Thousand: Underworld USA 2 + Blood's A Rover: Underworld USA 3
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Product Description

From Publishers 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.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From 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.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ellroy has grown up... April 9 2002
By Bauler
Reading all the reviews about this book is quite repetitive : everyone seems to consider Ellroy as a cute story-teller with complicated but breathtaking plots. I have even read that American Tabloid was a good MTV thriller !!!
Well, one cannot understand Ellroy without having read some of his major books and especially my dark places, his most personnal work. Ellroy is a story-teller, that's a fact, but whereas America has a bunch of story tellers, it only has one Ellroy. His style is unique and exhilarating and American tabloid is probably the best example of his talented writing. Read it and be prepared to have no sleep for a while. This book, whose plot is inspired by FBI files recently made public, is hard to appreciate because it is mature, tenseful, nervous and also so very dark. That's the way Ellroy is and that's the way he is, as far as I'm concerned, one of America's greatest talents in writing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars HISTORY WITH BODILY FLUIDS - AND STYLE! May 26 2008
Format:Mass Market Paperback
History has always been written by the victors - and they have the tendency to iron-out all its bloody details and hide all their dirty secrets. This a TRUE CLASSIC: imagine a history book that reads like a tabloid. Every story up close and personal, complete with every gory detail described. IN CINEMASCOPE & TECHNICOLOR.

The dirty making of the Kennedy fortune. Hoover as a hypochondriac cross-dressing extortionist. Everybody wiretapping everybody. The Camelot President clocked at 6 minutes. The Mob rigs the election for said President; invades Cuba with clansmen and Castro's exiles in blood-lust frenzy; gets burned - and gets even the only way it knows how. And in the middle of it all, two FBI agents trapped in a downwards spiral of serving multiple masters.

JAMES ELLROY does not pretend to write the dark side: he has barely escaped it himself and knows all its intoxicating scents and shadows. Read for the plausible details of history's margins. Enjoy the staccato prose of natural wit, verbatim FBI communication files and 50's Tabloid lingo.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Savage, Dark, Awesome! April 29 2004
Ellroy's "American Tabloid" takes the Kennedy-Bay of Pigs era and throws it in the shredder, hacking through the Golden Age myths of Camelot and the reader's pre-conceptions about the JFK presidency.
America has never looked so seedy or corrupt. In a work that should be accompanied by a Quentin Tarantino-selected soundtrack, Ellroy spins a tale of duplicity, false alliances, and mutual interest that alternately unites and tears apart the men of the CIA, the FBI, the Mob, the Teamsters, and teven he insane Howard Hughes. The trio of anti-heroes who drive the story forward, Pete Bondurant (hand-cuff snapping hired muscle), Kemper Boyd (Kennedy wannabe from the CIA), and Ward Littel (fallen FBI angel) rub shoulders with the Kennedys, J. Edgar Hoover, and other infamous movers and shakers from the period.
One hopes that Ellroy's exhilirating tale is not historically accurate, but Ellroy weaves enough historical detail that you feel as if "you are there, live!" If even one tenth of Ellroy's tale *is* true, then we are reminded how fragile and savage our American experiment with democracy really is.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! July 26 2003
As a reader of primarily non-fiction (history/economics), I am no expert on popular authors. However, after reading American Tabloid, it is clear that James Ellroy is a cut above the bestseller-writing hacks. The story is fascinatingly complex, and focuses on recent history as seen through the eyes of three very different lead fictional characters. Ellroy reminds one of Gore Vidal in his tendency to use fictional characters and their perceptions of what is going on around them to express his own historical interpretations. Since much of his historical interpretations are conjecture involving conspiracies, the novel is the perfect writing medium for Ellroy. He turns actual historical figures into peripheral characters in the lives of the fictional ones. Ellroy's distortions of history are amusing, entertaining, and fairly harmlesss. Readers who were put off by Ellroy's esoteric writing style in previous novels (White Jazz, L.A. Confidential) need not worry. This time around, he is a bit more reader-friendly. Above all, the story is top-notch. This is a rather lengthy book, but you will breeze through it. It is a pleasure to read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Master at the Top of his Game Oct. 28 2002
In "American Tabloid", James Ellroy achieves what few authors ever accomplish. He flawlessly writes his own characters into the political and mob world of the late 1950's and early 1960's, and he makes his plot believeable. As you read conversations that include, JFK, RFK, Sam Giancanna and other famous mob bosses, you have to wonder "this IS fiction, isn't it"
"American Tabloid" focuses on the mafia's role in the election of JFK, the Bay of Pigs, and the JFK assasination. As in all of Ellroy's books, no one gets away clean. Pete Boudurant, mob bagman and muscle; Kemper Boyd, FBI agent, CIA operative, looking out only for number one; and Ward J. Little, an FBI agent with a bizzare love/hate obsession with the Kennedy's. These ruthless men and their dealings provide the framework for one of the most brutal, ambitious novels ever written.
Ellroy has finally perfected his staccatto prose that he dabbled with in "LA Confidential" and experimented with openly in "White Jazz". The effect is like a literary high, as the book manages to develop several complex charchters with 50's/60's slang and short sentances. The book picks up quickly and never lets up. This book turned me onto the world of James Ellroy, and any reader with an interest in crime fiction needs to read this. Ellroy's second masterpiece, after "LA Confidential".
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars American Tabloid - James Ellroy
An absolute must for any student of American history, or any student of American covert dealings. American Tabloid lays bare the murky under-workings of the United States cira 1959... Read more
Published 7 months ago by cold6000
5.0 out of 5 stars Gut Wrenching Reading
This novel about secret governmental departments and their unexpected activities is superbly written and rivets the reader to each page. Read more
Published on March 5 2012 by Ila France Porcher, Author of The Shark Sessions
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing, epic, and mind blowing...
I'm beyond words. It is pulp fiction at it's most riveting. It is history and conspiracy turned upside down. Read more
Published on April 19 2004 by Robert Wellen
5.0 out of 5 stars American Tabloid
American Tabloid is one of the finest crime fiction novels in my library. Ellroy is a master of blending actual events with plausible and frightening characters. Read more
Published on Nov. 9 2003 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars American deathtrap
The subjets covered in this book are both sensitive and explosive: the mafia, the teamsters, the FBI, the CIA and the Kennedy's. Read more
Published on April 5 2003 by "podojo"
2.0 out of 5 stars BORING !!
Incredible!! Seven hundred pages of violence, nasty words, treason, murders, knives in the back, despisable characters...
That's all you've got here. Read more
Published on Dec 5 2002 by Poverty
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing! Every character is not worth a penny!!
Unbeliavable! Ellroy wrote a book where 99,9% of all characters are vile and mean, totally indecent and immoral, including the ones with real names! Read more
Published on Nov. 25 2002 by PATHERSON
5.0 out of 5 stars American Tabloid by James Ellroy
Listen, let's cut through the long, lenthy review process. This book is violent, bitter, corrupt, and brillant. Read more
Published on Oct. 14 2002 by Paul Pierog
2.0 out of 5 stars started off rather interesting...
Started off rather interesting, but degenerated into absurd non-stop cussing and comic book-style violence. Read more
Published on Oct. 14 2002 by "wwerewolff"
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