This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Oswald's Tale: An American Mystery by Norman…

Oswald's Tale: An American Mystery (1995)

by Norman Mailer

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
489931,758 (3.77)5



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 5 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
#unreadshelfproject2019 There were many parts of this tome that I had to skim over. There were so many Russian characters in the first part, I found myself overwhelmed and I really didn't care. The second half of the book is much more interesting. The New Orleans and Texas parts really held my attention. This book is really well written and researched. If you are looking for a super, in depth, looooooonnnnngggg book about Oswald, by all means, this is it. Many other books on Oswald are referenced in this one that may be more concise but still informative. ( )
  bnbookgirl | Apr 7, 2019 |
Long, rambling biography of Lee Harvey Oswald, divided half into his time in Russia, and half in America in the runup to the JFK assassination. The Russian material is more interesting, in the American section Mailer seems less sharp, except for in New Orleans, when Oswald's involvement with the local gay community raises the potential for intrigue. I think his project ran out of steam a bit: he wanted (and admits as much) to uncover a conspiracy but in the end comes to the conclusion there isn't one there. A great turn of phrase when he puts his mind to it, though. ( )
  roblong | Jan 10, 2017 |
A really good book. I've never really read any of the conspiracy stuff, but this book gave me a good anti-paranoid basis on Oswald's involvement. Nobody knows what happened, of course, but whatever his role, Oswald was no innocent. He loved to play games, to play one person or group against another. He also had a highly inflated sense of self -- he knew he would make his mark on history and wasn't going to give up until he did so. ( )
  AliceAnna | Oct 22, 2014 |
This was unlike anything I've ever read. Half a dozen times I nearly abandoned it. It's tedious, plodding, dreary, and I knew from the start how the story would end.
But it was also fascinating. Mailer attempts to dig into the mind of the man who most of the world is still convinced killed the 35th President of the United States. I was a high school freshman at the time, and I still have vivid memories how the world seemed to stop in its tracks.
Mailer's research for the book was very extensive. Besides heavy reliance on the findings of the Warren Commission, Mailer's associates conducted personal interviews with dozens of persons still alive in the late 1980's who knew Oswald. They even tracked down individuals who knew him during his expatriate years in Russia.
The resulting portrait is oddly gripping.
But the book is a log slog. ( )
  dickmanikowski | Feb 12, 2014 |
Very well researched and written account of Oswald's life, such as it was. A must read for anyone interested in Kennedy's assasination. Some questions about this whole episode will never be known. ( )
  rsummer | Oct 29, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
To our initial surprises, Mailer rejects conspiracy. According to Oliver Stone’s feverish movie, JFK, the assassination involved practically 50 per cent of the American populace. The unlikelihood of a pan-national cover-up would seem to outweigh the more local lacunae – Oswald’s marksmanship, the ‘magic bullet’, Jack Ruby – which are merely ‘evidentiary’, and subject to the ping-pong of rival advocacies. More crucially, all conspiracies founder on the crags of Oswald’s character, as here established. No concerted effort, however harebrained, could have placed Oswald at its leading edge. Even as a patsy he was unemployable...

Mailer has written some pretty crazy books in his time, but this isn’t one of them. Like its predecessor, Harlot’s Ghost, it is the performance of an author relishing the force and reach of his own acuity.
added by SnootyBaronet | editSunday London Times, Martin Amis
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
REPRESENTATIVE BOGGS. Why did your son defect to Russia?

MARGUERITE OSWALD. I cannot answer that yes or no sir. I am going to go through the whole story or it is no good. And that is what I have been doing for this Commission all day long—giving a story.

REPRESENTATIVE BOGGS. Suppose you just make it very brief.

MARGUERITE OSWALD. I cannot make it brief. I will say I am unable to make it brief. This is my life and my son’s life going down in history.

—from Marguerite Oswald’s Warren Commission testimony,
for this book and for the other fourteen that have been written through these warm years, these thirty years and more we have been together.
First words
When Valya was three years old, she fell on a hot stove and burned her face and was ill for a whole year, all that year from three to four.
It is virtually not assimilable to our reason that a small lonely man felled a giant in the midst of his limousines, his legions, his throng, and his security. If such a non-entity destroyed the leader of the most powerful nation on earth, then a world of disproportion engulfs us, and we live in a universe that is absurd.
Thomas Wolfe once remarked that people in the same occupation tend to look alike in all countries - waiters, for example, or taxi-cab drivers. The corollary is that there may be profound similarities of character and function between American intellectuals, writers, and media chiefs and high KGB officers. What wit resides in the cosmos!
For if the seven august men who presided were not trying to blur every possibility but one--that Oswald was a twisted and lonely killer--then one has to assume the opposite: These most accomplished judges, lawyers, and high government officials really did not know how to conduct an inquiry of this sort. As inquiry, the Warren Commission's work resembles a dead whale decomposing on a beach.
It is startling to discover, as one pans these government volumes for bits of gold, how much does gleam in the sludge. One could even make a career as a minimalist writer (of the second rank) by laying out many of the testimonies in two- and three-page narratives.
He had, in fact, lived in so many countries, worked at so many occupations--cavalry officer in the Polish army, lingerie salesman in Belgium, movie-maker in New York, and petroleum engineer in Dallas--and had accumulated so many adventures and married so often (so cynically and so idealistically, sometimes for money, sometimes for love, having once been as wealthy as a gigolo who had hit on double-zero in matrimonial roulette, but reduced by 1962 to living on what Jeanne, his fourth and last wife, was making as a fashion designer at Nieman-Marcus) that boredom could easily have been one of his afflictions: Too much experience can prove as dangerous to maintaining a lively interest in life as too little.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679425357, Hardcover)

A portrait of Lee Harvey Oswald is based on interviews with former acquaintances and research gathered from Minsk, where Oswald hid for more than two years after defecting to the Soviet Union. 150,000 first printing. Tour.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:42 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

An orphaned American heiress and a Portuguese bullfighter first encounter each other through a magnificent stallion.

Legacy Library: Norman Mailer

Norman Mailer has a Legacy Library. Legacy libraries are the personal libraries of famous readers, entered by LibraryThing members from the Legacy Libraries group.

See Norman Mailer's legacy profile.

See Norman Mailer's author page.

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.77)
1 1
2 2
3 18
3.5 6
4 21
4.5 6
5 10


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 135,692,066 books! | Top bar: Always visible