The Cold Six Thousand Hardcover – May 8 2001
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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.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Dig. This is one hot tome. Ok, so much for my one sentence attempt to copy Ellroy. Anyway, this is fascinating, intense, and loooooooonnnnnggggggg book. Read morePublished on June 6 2004 by Robert Wellen
I've only read this book, not knowing it was part of a trilogy. For another great (shorter) trilogy, check out Ellroy's L.A. Read morePublished on Feb. 10 2004 by Nichomachus
I am a huge fan of Ellroy, and this book did not disappoint. I loved it. Fans of Ellroy who have not already bought it should do so immediately. Read morePublished on Oct. 14 2003
Let me just say this: I am a fan of experimental prose styles. I read Ulysses for chrissake.
But these choppy ass little sentences seemed trite and annoying. Read more
Ellroy writes short sentences. Ellroy writes many short sentences. Ellroy writes short, declarative sentences over and over. Ellroy's style starts out annoying. Read morePublished on Aug. 21 2003
This is a difficult book to read. It's also the type of book reviewers have in mind when they talk about a "tour de force" or about a writer "taking risks". Read morePublished on July 2 2003 by Skip Senneka
After just finishing this epic novel I found myself wondering what others thought and when I went through the reviews I was seriously perplexed by how many people thought this was... Read morePublished on May 17 2003 by Philip D. Donohue