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American Tabloid: Underworld USA (1) Paperback – Apr 24 2001

4.5 out of 5 stars 113 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (April 24 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037572737X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375727375
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 381 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 113 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #87,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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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By NeuroSplicer HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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Format: Paperback
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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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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By LMJ on July 26 2003
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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