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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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2,303374,158 (4.07)77
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» See also 77 mentions

English (25)  French (4)  Spanish (3)  Italian (3)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (37)
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
(this was a diversion, something to transport)

Much of the GR community shares a united front on American Tabloid, comparing it to meth or serial lines of blow, Ellroy is credited with thousands of pages of plot stripped down to slide into a mere 600 page volume. There is a measure of truth in said consensus. Well some of the metaphors do work. It does often appear that an acetylene torch is applied to the reader's soul. Events do come tumbling into focus and then disappear in the span of a few pages. The historical significance trails afterward like a sonic boom. The novel's chief created characters ( as opposed to the historical personages that the author stacks to the rafters) all occupy the opaque underworld of the FBI and the Syndicates. The Mob and communist inspire night terrors. Affairs branch outward from there. No one can afford loyalty, we understand. A subplot involving the daughters of the G-men being friends is but a plot device, quickly discarded to no real effect. Many of the characters decide that they don’t hate sufficiently and question matters. I’m guessing a few readers came to the same conclusion. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
It took me a long time to get into this book, maybe even more than half way through. But once I did, I liked it. I'd like to read the rest of the series, though it's not at the top of my list. I don't like violence, so that was one downside of this book for me. ( )
  3njennn | Nov 25, 2018 |
I loved this book. It gets 4 out of 5 (it's really probably more if a 4.5) mainly because there is just so much going on and at times made my brain hurt. I love the pace, the way the fictional character mixed with real life ones. My favorite character was probably Ward Littell. I loved the whole, good guy goes rouge after feeling betrayed aspect of his character. I rarely read series books in order, but because I liked the first book so much, I'm jumping right into The Cold Six Thousand. I'm going to let my brain rest and process for a bit though. ( )
  bribre01 | May 6, 2018 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James Ellroyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bortolussi, StefanoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Nat Sobel
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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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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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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)

» see all 2 descriptions

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