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The Cold Six Thousand Hardcover – May 8 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition edition (May 8 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679403922
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679403920
  • Product Dimensions: 24.5 x 16.7 x 3.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #666,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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With its hypnotic, staccato rhythms, and words jostling, bumping, marching forward with edgy intensity (like lemmings heading toward a cliff of their own devising), The Cold Six Thousand feels as if it's being narrated by a hopped-up Dr. Seuss who's hungrier for violence than for green eggs and ham. In spinning the threads of post-JFK-assassination cultural chaos, James Ellroy's whirlwind riff on the 1960s takes nothing for granted, except that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Hurtling from Las Vegas to Vietnam to Cuba to Memphis and back again (and all points in between), from Dealey Plaza to opium fields to smoke-filled back rooms where the mob holds sway, the novel traces the strands of complicity, greed, and fear that connect three men to a legion of supporting characters: Ward Littell, a former Feeb whose current allegiance to the mob and to Howard Hughes can't mask his admiration for the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King; Pete Bondurant, a hit man and fervent anti-Communist who splits his time between Vegas casinos and CIA-sponsored heroin labs in Saigon; and Wayne Tedrow Jr., a young Vegas cop who's sent to Dallas in late November 1963 to snuff a black pimp, and who is fighting a losing battle against his predilection for violence: "Junior was a hider. Junior was a watcher. Junior lit flames. Junior torched. Junior lived in his head."

And behind these three, J. Edgar Hoover is the master puppeteer, pulling strings with visionary zeal and resolute pragmatism, the still point around whom the novel roils and tumbles. At once evil and comic, Hoover predicts that LBJ "will deplete his prestige on the home front and recoup it in Vietnam. History will judge him as a tall man with big ears who needed wretched people to love him," and feels that Cuba "appeals to hotheads and the morally impaired. It's the cuisine and the sex. Plantains and women who have intercourse with donkeys."

The Seussian comparison isn't that far-fetched: Ellroy's novel, like the children's books (and like the very decade it limns), is flexible, spontaneous, and unabashedly off-kilter. Weighing in at a hefty 700 pages, The Cold Six Thousand is a trifle bloated by the excesses of its narrative form. But what glorious excess it is, as Ellroy continues to illuminate the twin impulses toward idealism and corruption that frame American popular and political culture. He deftly puts unforgettable faces and voices to the murkiest of conspiracy theories, and simultaneously mocks our eager assumption that such knowledge will make a difference. --Kelly Flynn

From Publishers Weekly

Dig it: Ellroy writes tight. Ellroy writes large. Ellroy vibes great lit he's the Willie S. of noir. It's easy to elbow Ellroy, but that's only because he's got his act down. His new novel is a career performance. Running from one day of infamy (11/22/63) to another (6/5/68) and a bit beyond, it limns a confluence of conspiracies beginning with the shooting of JFK in Dallas and ending with the death of his brother in L.A. In between, Ellroy depicts the takeover of Vegas by the Outfit, with Howard Hughes as its beard; the escalation of the war in Vietnam and the takeover of heroin cultivation there by the Mob; the enmity of J. Edgar Hoover toward Martin Luther King, leading to the King killing months before bullets topple Bobby K. Big names play roles huge and small: the aforementioned celebs; Bayard Rustin, an FBI blackmail target for his homosexuality; Sal Mineo, a Mob blackmail target for carving up a male trick; Oswald, Ruby, SirhanSirhan, James Earl Jones, patsies all; Sonny Liston, sliding from world champion to world-class thug; assorted "Boys," including mobster Carlos Marcellos, the spider at the center of the web. While great men pull strings, however, smaller men not only dance but sometimes tug back; a wide cast of characters mercenaries, twisted cops, thieves, financiers, pimps, whores and cons keep the conspiracies chugging while indulging in assorted vanities and vendettas. What emerges is a violent, sexually squalid, nightmare version of America in the '60s, one that, through Ellroy's insertion of telephone transcripts and FBI and other documents, gains historical credence. With Ellroy's ice-pick declarative prose (thankfully varied occasionally by those documents), plus his heart-trembling, brain-searing subject matter, readers will feel kneed, stomped upon and then kicked right up into the maw of hard truth. (On-sale date, May 8)

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
Ellroy's follow-up to "American Tabloid" takes another look at the morally-bereft American crime world in the late '60s. This book (and its precursor) are the perfect shot of grain alcohol to obliterate the syrupy '60s image we see all too often of flower children, sensitive singer-songwriter-superstars, and the like. Ellroy's vision of the '60s is harsh and certainly not for the squeamish, as Ellroy knocks icons such as Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King off their pedestals and gives us a J. Edgar Hoover as an evil Wizard of Oz, pulling levers and manipulating events behind his veils at the FBI. Ellroy's previous characters, the haunted FBI agent Ward Littel and everyone's favorite French Canadian strong-arm Pete Bondurant, meet with a new cast of nasties, including the Tedrows, Wayne Junior and Senior. A bunch of nasty people meet nasty ends (as do others), and nobody is allowed to ride off into the sunset. While not quite up to the standards of "American Tabloid," (perhaps only because "Tabloid" came first) this is an excellent read, particularly if you're a fan of Ellroy's rapid-fire style. **** Definitely read "Tabloid" first -- the back story here, especially regarding Bondurant and Littel, is critical. ****
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Format: Paperback
This is an astoundingly good novel. What is most striking about it is James Ellroy's buckshot prose, which he has taken to a new level, even for him. It scans almost like beat poetry.
Virtually every page (of 700 odd) is studded with short (and I mean *really* short, even by Ellroy's standards), staccato sentences repeating phrases in groups of three: "Frank was a doctor. Frank had bad habits. Frank made bad friends."; "Wayne yawned. Wayne pulled carbons. The fine print blurred."
I can see that this could, quite reasonably, prove extremely irritating, but I found that it gave the novel a real rhythm, like a Bo Diddley jungle beat. That sounds pretentious, I know, but if you read it (and buy into it) you'll see what I mean. And it is used to extremely good, often comic effect.
As is the case with all Ellroy's novels, life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and (for the most part) short, although it must be said the principal protagonists do, by comparison, seem blessed with unfeasible longevity, and the plot is so Byzantine as to make Constantinople look like a one horse town: Cuba, Vietnam, Howard Hughes, the Vegas mafia, JFK's assassination, RFK's assassination, the Klan, Martin Luther King's assassination - it's all here, and in Ellroy's universe it's all inextricably linked.
I doubt it has any value as history (whether or not it is, Ellroy is clearly steeped in the history of the era), but it's such an exhilarating read, it really doesn't matter.
Olly Buxton
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Format: Paperback
have you read Ellory before? have you put in your time in the L.A. books? Have you traced the evil that was dudley smith from his intro (not officially in the L.A. books, but if you know, then there you go) to when he took a wolverine to the face? If so, then you may be ready for this. M-16 prose, chain-saw whiplash violence, a kracked, krazy, kaleidescope view of the dekades that shaped amerika. No joke, if you haven't been on the bus, then this one will leave you behind and wondering what's up. I wasn't down with "Tabloid" -- too much plot and not enough of the pulse of the bad men who shape the world we call life. But this one runs the pulse like a spurting artery. Annoying prose? You know it. Strobe-light, beatnik jazz-like, hop-head krazee? That's just the beginning. The demon dog's going deep into what makes amerika the place it is. It simply isn't for you if you haven't been on the ride before this. All you've have is guestions and wonder what the hell's up. But if you've been listening to the white jazz and wolverine blues for a while, this is the apotheosis. Don't get me wrong -- Big Nowhere, LA Confid and White Jazz blow white hot compared to this, but for the dark places of the '60s, from Saigon to West LV and how they touch today, Ellroy's ride is rough, rambunctious and strangely vulnerable. You'll shudder, you'll wish for a shower, but you'll come through to the dawn with a burned-pure soul that's earned. Bring on the next.
And really, can you not but wish that the big dog would turn his eye on what's been going on with today's unknown, unsung bad men, in places distant, dusty and shaped by bad, bad, power (and golf)?
Oh, yeah -- and for the first time, cats (CATS) get their moment in the light -- and they make the dogs look like pussies.
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Format: Paperback
This was my first Elrroy's books. I didn't have the American Tabloid at the time, and I can say, that even though it would had helped to read the first part first (this is the second book of the announced Underground USA Trilogy), it hit me inside, and made me an instantaneous Ellroy fan. One may say that the narrative (688 pages that goes subject, verb, object, dot) is hard to get started with, when you get into the book it just stop making that huge difference... Maybe the 688 pages are a bigger problem themselves...).
While one of the main character of American Tabloid goes off scene (While Ward Littel and Pete Bondurant stays), there comes Wayne Tedrow Jr. a very well created character, urging to explode with anger, and beside, trying not to show it. His dubious way of thinking/acting all over the story is the hook that get Wayne going (when will be - if so - the crackdown?, you can feel it during the book)
Much has been said about the story so I wont go long on this subject. Ellroy put his trio working directly and undirectly for J. Edgar Hoover and the MOB, in a way they are responsible for turning the main wheels of many historical American spots from 1963 to 1968. They are, in the Ellroy fictional world, the men behind the scenes.
About the prose style, again, as the Author himself said, this was entirelly proposital. This is the story of three angry, racist white men from the 60's. He writes in their language. The language of the obligation: Do it. Kill him. Get this. Go there and read the book. Pete likes those who read the book. Pete is kind with the ones who've read the book. Pete go easy on them.
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