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American Tabloid by James Ellroy

American Tabloid (original 1995; edition 1995)

by James Ellroy

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1,965243,459 (4.08)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 (14)  Italian (3)  French (3)  Spanish (2)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (24)
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
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 |
Look, I'm not going to sit here and tell you that "American Tabloid" isn't a lot of fun. It's got gangsters and drug smugglers and revolutionaries and playboys and FBI agents and crazy millionaires and dancing girls. It's got blood and guts and sex and violence and betrayal and greed and double-dealing and politics and harebrained schemes and some very amusing period slang. It moves faster than a jacked-up sports car pushing towards sixth gear on a desolate stretch of Nevada highway. It's profane and chilling and shocking and scandalous, but I'm not sure it's a very good book. Let me explain.

When Ellroy does fiction, he's adding gore, slick prose, and some amount of psychological depth to what lots of readers consider a fairly formulaic, disposable genre. It's a good gig, and Ellroy's very good at what he does. "American Tabloid," though, isn't borderline-literary pulp, it's pulpy, hard-boiled historical fiction, and switching genres really exposes Ellroy's shortcomings as a novelist. Everyone, fictional or otherwise, in "American Tabloid," is an Ellory character: a rampant id attached to an obsession and a pair of gonads. That's fine if you're just juicing up stock characters, but it goes less well when you're talking about historical figures that might have had more sides than one. It doesn't matter who Ellroy's writing about here, though: John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy J. Edgar Hoover, Howard Hughes, Sam Giancana, or one of a half-dozen FBI men, they all come off as horny, power-mad and thoroughly unscrupulous. Other writers have found real depth in some of these personages, but you'd hardly know it from reading "American Tabloid." I've always assumed that historical fiction tarts up the history it describes in the interest of a good story, but I'm thinking that real-deal history, would, in this case, would make Ellroy's schtick here seem pretty thin.

Not that "American Tabloid" is all bad. Ellroy's decision to skewer John F. Kennedy, who has become something of a plaster saint, might be described as bold, and he seems to have done some good research on some less-known aspects of contemporary political history. There's some wild, and perhaps vaguely factual tales of the Cuban exile movement and a cynical take on Camelot and the civil rights movement. Even so, "American Tabloid" is essentially a who-really-killed-JFK book, and there's never been a happier hunting ground for obsessives, crackpots and conspiracy nuts than that one. I don't know how much of any of this he believes, but I'm not sure it matters: Ellroy would probably be better served discussing the intricate, stylish dealings of fictional cops and robbers.

As it nears the end, the book seems to lose all sense of verisimilitude and the death toll hits Shakespearean, or perhaps Tarantino-an, levels. By the time I'd finished this one, I felt like I'd eaten three Thanksgiving dinners in a row and I'd had enough of Cuban psychopaths, speed-addled G-men, and J. Edgar Hoover for a little while. Oof! I'm beginning to suspect that Ellroy's stuff is basically catnip for adolescent males, romance novels for dudes who read "Bizarre." It's okay to read that stuff once in a while, but like all junk food, you want to make sure you get something else in your diet, too. ( )
1 vote TheAmpersand | Nov 23, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James Ellroyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bortolussi, StefanoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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