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American Tabloid by James Ellroy

American Tabloid (original 1995; edition 1995)

by James Ellroy

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1,973253,436 (4.07)33
Title:American Tabloid
Authors:James Ellroy
Info:Knopf (1995), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 576 pages
Collections:Your library

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American Tabloid by James Ellroy (1995)



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English (15)  Italian (3)  French (3)  Spanish (2)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (25)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
This book is the first of a trilogy (USA Underworld), the second and third being [b:The Cold Six Thousand|4191|The Cold Six Thousand (Underworld USA, #2)|James Ellroy|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1403182681s/4191.jpg|22797] and [b:Blood's a Rover|6094181|Blood's a Rover (Underworld USA, #3)|James Ellroy|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1400524997s/6094181.jpg|6271208]. What drove me to buy all three books (used) is my fascination for roman a clef (novels that are fictionalized versions of real people and events), which is the type of writing that I myself aspire to produce in my own works, especially on similar topics - concealed episodes of American political history; in other words, education through entertainment, with a poetic license for authors to throw in their own interpretations.

Unfortunately, American Tabloid falls short. The writing style largely consists of four- and five-word sentences (even three word sentences!) in just as terse (one- to three-sentence) paragraphs; it's like trying to read machine-gun fire. One might think that this makes reading easier, but it doesn't - I found myself stopping to read these concentrated sentences over. At other times the narrative goes so fast, that I have to back up a few pages to look up something I missed. On other occasions the perspective shifts from omniscience to first person, causing some momentary confusion.

The crass, gory, bloody, comic book-style violence often seems gratuitous and detracts from the story rather than embellish it. The characters are one-dimensional and underdeveloped.

But on a positive note, I found myself searching the internet for info on some of the characters, and learned a few things in the process of reading the novel. Like J.D. Tippit for example - the cop that Oswald allegedly shot after fleeing the Book Depository. I always thought he was a random cop who was in the wrong place at the wrong time - I never knew that Tippit and Jack Ruby were buddies, which makes Tippit's death highly suspicious and lends more credence to the forensic evidence that suggests Oswald was NOT the one who killed him.

I will read the rest of the trilogy, keeping in mind the limitations of Ellroy's writing, but I find it difficult to recommend this book to mystery/thriller/cop story fans. However, if you like reading about conspiracies, then it might be worth your time.

( )
  BBcummings | Dec 24, 2014 |
Excellent read. Very gripping rendition of the Kennedy years, the Mafia and FBI. It is fiction but very interesting take on the surrounding history. ( )
  Amusedbythis | May 16, 2014 |
I wanted to give this book another try; it's subject matter really interests me. It's just that the angry, brutal prose seems to me to be overly sensational and unnecessarily sadistic. Still, it's an engrossing read, with character growth and nice twists and turns to reach an end that history told you was coming. ( )
1 vote bontley | Aug 24, 2013 |
Awesome! ( )
  Alfonso809 | Apr 3, 2013 |
Fantastic, complicated thriller interpreting historical events through the eyes of a hardboiled crime novelist. Fast-paced, complex, extremely violent, and (unfortunately) all-too-believable. Takes a lot of nerve to depict powerful families and people in this way. One warning: try to keep track of the characters and their connections right from the beginning. There are so many and the crosses and double-crosses are so numerous you may need a crib sheet! ( )
  kishields | Dec 28, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James Ellroyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bortolussi, StefanoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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America was never innocent.
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:57:57 -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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