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American Tabloid by James Ellroy

American Tabloid (1995)

by James Ellroy

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Underworld USA (1)

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2,167332,998 (4.08)68



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English (22)  French (4)  Italian (3)  Spanish (2)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  All (33)
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
This masterpiece brilliantly mixes fact and fiction to present a mosaic of America from the late 1950's until the assassination of JFK. Historical characters and facts covered include JFK's run for the presidency; his many affairs, including one with a Marilyn Monroe-like starlet; Bobby Kennedy's investigation of Teamster's Union boss Jimmy Hoffa; the CIA's botched planning and execution of the Bay of Pigs; Howard Hughes; Castro; J. Edgar Hoover; the Mafia in Chicago, Miami, L.A. and New Orleans; and much, much more.

These events engulf the three primary fictional characters, all of whom are amoral, murderous and depraved individuals. Pete Bondurant is a hired gun for Jimmy Hoffa, as well a drug supplier to Howard Hughes, who becomes one of the CIA trainers for the Cubans who will execute the Bay of Pigs invasion. Kemper Boyd simultaneously works for the FBI, the CIA, Robert F. Kennedy, the Mafia, and pimps for JFK. He is loyal to no one. Ward Littel is a former straight-arrow FBI agent formerly obsessed with nabbing the mob (rather than chasing the "reds" J. Edgar was interested in pursuing). He ends up as the ace attorney for Mafioso boss Carlos Marcello. Be aware that the events in this book are extremely violent and brutal.

The style in which this novel is written is truly unique, and takes some getting used to. It is written in short, staccato sentences, and the plot is presented as a series of vignettes. The language is idiomatic, full of slang and (to me) utterly authentic. This may only be a 4 1/2 star book, but I'm feeling generous and giving it 5 stars.

5 stars

This was a reread for me. I first read it around the time it was originally published in 1995. I loved it then, as well. I reread it because after reading a review of the second novel in the trilogy of which this is the opening book (The Cold Six Thousand) I wanted to continue on with the trilogy, which I never did, I guess because the succeeding books weren't written at the time I read the first one ( )
1 vote arubabookwoman | Apr 28, 2017 |
This sprawling, shocking novel revolves (mainly) around three fictional characters, but is rooted in the time of the Kennedy family's rise to success - it features JFK campaigning for and winning the election and his brother Bobby becoming Attorney General. The events of the novel take us right up to that fateful date of 22nd November 1963.

The main characters are Pete Bondurant, bodyguard for the eccentric millionaire Howard Hughes as well as a terrifyingly effective Mob associate; Kemper Boyd, an FBI Agent who at the request of J Edgar Hoover infiltrates the Kennedy organisation and finds his loyalties (such as they are) split many ways; and Ward Littell, another FBI Agent and anti-Mob crusader. Lets be clear here - none of these men are particularly nice, but they are interesting. In fact, none of the characters in this book - real or fictional - come off particularly well, least of all John F Kennedy.

The story describes the machinations of the Kennedy family and their associates in making sure that JFK wins the election, and covers such historical events as the Bay of Pigs invasion, and attempts to bring down Fidel Castro. There's so much story here that it was sometimes hard to take in everything that happens - whether you are familiar with the events upon which the book is based or not, this is a book that really demands your attention.

The writing is visceral and brutal and the story is fast paced, with loyalties of all characters constantly being questioned both by the readers and by other people in the story. Despite the concentration required, it's actually a pretty easy read with mainly short, choppy chapters, which tend to show events from alternating points of view.

Overall, if you are interested at all in what happened to John F Kennedy and who killed him - this book offers a fictionalised theory - then I would definitely recommend this, but be aware that it is not a cosy afternoon read! ( )
  Ruth72 | Aug 24, 2016 |
Wow. No way it all went down exactly like this, but it could have, anyway I think Ellroy's pretty close. There's so much detail here that it took a second reading just to get a good idea of what's going on. The first time through, I think I was focused on the Kennedy assassination stuff so much that I missed ninety percent of the story. And I had no idea that it was a trilogy... will definitely be moving on to The Cold Six Thousand now. ( )
  5hrdrive | Jul 16, 2016 |
Deckare av den hårdkokta varianten blir inte bättre och mer sofistikerade än så här. ( )
  Arwid | Jun 14, 2016 |
This is an exciting thriller that made me breathless until the last page. It is the first book of the Underworld USA trilogy . It is the rise of the Kennedys to the day of the assassination of JFK. It is the story of how the Mafia, corrupt agents (FBI / CIA) to the highest authorities had their hands in the game. It is also the story of the Cuban Crisis. Even if it is a fiction, shows Ellroy how politics works. Although this is a purely American history, it could happen in many countries worldwide like that. It shows once again that money rules the world and who sold the devil his soul, it gets never return. ( )
  Ameise1 | Apr 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James Ellroyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bortolussi, StefanoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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America was never innocent.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
original title: American Tabloid
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 037572737X, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:12 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A novel of the Kennedy era, portraying the president in a far from flattering light. There are three protagonists: a CIA agent who pimps for JFK, another agent who trains anti-Castro rebels, and a lawyer who is a Mafia hunter. Through their eyes are seen the conflicting interests of the Kennedys, the director of the FBI, organized crime, organized labor, Castro and Cuban exiles. By the author of White Jazz.… (more)

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