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American Tabloid (Underworld USA #1)

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  8,382 ratings  ·  483 reviews
CHOSEN BY TIME MAGAZINE AS ONE OF
THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
"ONE HELLISHLY EXCITING RIDE."
--Detroit Free Press
The '50s are finished. Zealous young senator Robert Kennedy has a red-hot jones to nail Jimmy Hoffa. JFK has his eyes on the Oval Office. J. Edgar Hoover is swooping down on the Red Menace. Howard Hughes is dodging subpoenas and digging up Kennedy dirt. And Cas
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ebook, 592 pages
Published June 29th 2011 by Vintage (first published 1995)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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brian
to paraphrase kris kristofferson: if it sounds fucked up, man, that's because it is.

sometimes i chug coffee to the point where i'm glazed with sweat, red-eyed, about to crap my pants, and i throw my headphones on and blast either miles davis bitches brew or motorhead ace of spades. i sit down in front of the computer and write write write. and the result is exactly what you'd imagine from a mediocre writer w/a flair for the hyperbolic all hopped up on caffeine. not too good. imagine, however, i
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Greg
Check out the prose. Dig the style. Raymond Carver looks verbose. Hemingway looks weak and fey.

Dig the streamlined story. 1500 pages of plot compacted into 576.

Dig the violence. The greed. The manipulations, the conspiracies.

Check out the Outfit. The Beard. The Cadre. Jimmy and the Klan. The Hair and Little Brother all gunning towards history like a hophead mainlining a speedball.

Check out the geek posing at writing this review.




Kemper
James Ellroy has called me a panty sniffer to my face. Granted, he calls everyone at his book signings a variety of colorful names, but I still like the idea that I’ve been personally mock-insulted by one of my favorite authors. This is his best novel, and my love for it is pretty much unconditional.

As proof of my devotion: My internet alias is from a character in it, and I’ve got an autographed copy of it sitting on my shelf along with an signed copy of the sequel, The Cold Six Thousand. The t
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Matt
Whoa. This book is the literary equivalent of sticking your head out of a car window at 80mph.

I don’t hear this talk much anymore, but at one point folks were very interested in defining and/or writing “The Great American Novel.” I assert that this may be it. Forget everything about grandma and her apple pie, with this book Ellroy grabs us by our collective red, white, and blue lapels and flings us out of the barn loft into a big warm pile of the real history of the United States. As unpleasant
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Ian Heidin[+]Fisch
On Tour

In 1996, Ellroy toured Australia with one of my favourite bands, the Jackson Code.
Ellroy did a number of readings from AT, then the band played and then he sang/narrated with the band.
It was a great night, although I am hazy on the detail.
It was an early date with my wife, and I didn't get as drunk as I would otherwise have done (and do now), but I am hazy nevertheless.
I don't know how they got the idea to do a gig like this.
I remember that Ellroy wore a great Hawaiian shirt.
He looked lik
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Erik Simon
Merely to say this book is great is useless and redundant, so let me say two things:

1. Don DeLillo, in his novel LIBRA, which Ellroy claims influenced this novel, somewhere writes in that book, "History is the sum total of all the things they're not telling us." This book is that line--it's the sum total of all the things they've not told us about the JFK assassination, and that those things have been novelized cannot be denigrated. We now live in a society wherein the news is entertainment, and
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Maciek
America was never innocent. We popped our cherry on the boat over and looked back with no regrets. You can’t ascribe our fall from grace to any single event or set of circumstances. You can’t lose what you lacked at conception.

Conspiracy theorists have been among us since the inception of mankind. Whenever an event of a particular scale and importance happens they will be there, in the background, quietly (well, not always) disputing the official story and proposing alternative explanations. Con
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aPriL eVoLvEs (ex-Groot)
Ok. If readers haven’t encountered one of my schizophrenic reviews that litter my book diary here and there, I’m writing another one again. I always feel torn when I admire the talented writing and/or depth of research and ideas, and ultimately, the author’s tricky mind, but I also think the subject/characters are despicable, horrible and unpleasant. One such book that I read previously was by Octavia Butler, ‘Fledgling’. ‘American Tabloid’ is another. Once again, I wish I had access to a gif wh ...more
Jonfaith
(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 p
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Jeff
Dec 27, 2007 Jeff rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: central north carolina
while ellroy's chandler-on-crack routine is exhausting stylistically [mock sample excerpt: "this spic commie was a real cooze hound. dig his geeked-out arsenal: 20 30.06 shells, three silencer-rigged .45s, a rapemobile-mounted shotgun. agency/outfit sanctioned figured kemper boyd."], _american tabloid_'s dark reimagining of early-60s optimism as a cesspool of cynical political power plays underscored by mixed alliances, double- and triple-crosses, and the reduction of the era's most "powerful/in ...more
Nick Black
It had some really memorable lines, but overall I dug The Cold Six Thousand more. We'll see how Blood's a Rover goes, but overall I'm thinking James Ellroy is something I'd enjoyed much more eight years ago. What's the point, Pete/Boyd/Wayne/Littell? For such multitalented, resourceful and industrious individuals, they sure seem to lack any meaningful weltanschauung of their own, content to play the part of vessels. Not a stride is broken upon the death of XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX late in this firs ...more
pierlapo  quimby
Questo romanzo si può dire che segni un confine netto nella mia vita di lettore, la mia linea d'ombra.
Ricordo che lo comprai il giorno stesso dell'uscita, o quello dopo, avevo letto qualche anticipazione sui quotidiani (forse conservo ancora un ritaglio della Stampa da qualche parte) e quando lo presi dall'espositore all'ingresso di una minuscola libreria oggi chiusa, il libraio, caro amico, mi guardò annuendo con intima soddisfazione.
Conoscevo Ellroy solo di nome all'epoca, ma il suo progetto s
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Gus Sanchez
Wow.

Yeah. Wow.

This was my first James Ellroy novel, and he did not disappoint. On the contrary, I developed a major hard-on for his hard-assed prose, and his dark, morally ambiguous characters - gotta say Pete Bondurant is now one of my favorite fictional characters ever.

I won't bore you with the details or the plot behind "American Tabloid", the first in a trilogy of works sketching out the nefarious doings of those in power, but if you love fiction that's both hard-edged and replete with his
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Dan 2.0
Okay, I will reluctantly post my first review here. Up to now, I've never really felt the need to do my own reviews. I'd rather leave that to the semi professional book bloggers & "power users" out there. Who quite frankly, are much better at it. Typically, once I finish a book, I merely post my take, on whichever of my friends reviews I happen to like the most. I also find myself skimming many long reviews, so I hope to keep this short. I'll leave the synopsis for the pros, so without furth ...more
Marco Tamborrino
"L’America non è mai stata innocente. Abbiamo perso la verginità sulla nave durante il viaggio di andata e ci siamo guardati indietro senza alcun rimpianto. Non si può ascrivere la nostra caduta dalla grazia ad alcun singolo evento o insieme di circostanze. Non è possibile perdere ciò che non si ha fin dall’inizio."

Non conosco il genere noir, ma so che Ellroy ne viene indicato come uno dei più grandi esponenti, se non il massimo. Come "horror" riferito a King e "giallo" riferito alla Christie,
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Michael
This is the first Ellroy I've read, and it will likely be the last. Mostly because I find it impossible to take this seriously.

I don't doubt for a minute his portrayal of mobsters and G-men and teamsters run amok in the fifties and sixties; I'm sure they were just as violent and hellbent on mayhem as they're depicted here. His gloss on the Bay of Pigs jibes, too. There is one neat bit of business following a character's slow arc from soft-skinned do-gooder alcoholic into revenge-driven killer. B
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F.R.
Re-reading ‘American Tabloid’ convinced me that after the obituary is published and we look back at James Ellroy’s career as a whole, it will probably be the LA crime novels which are seen as his greatest achievement.

Not that there isn’t a lot of excellence in this more “political” tome (for want of a better adjective). Starting in 1958 and leading to the Kennedy assassination, Ellroy gives us three men who play their parts behind the scenes and whose actions lead to that national tragedy. There
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Andy
Great thriller about the Bay of Pigs-Kill Castro-JFK pissing off the Mafia and the CIA in one fell swoop story, which culminates in Dallas Texas on November 22, 1963. Although I didn't care for the Kennedys depicted as a bunch of effeminate spoiled brats in power - that's the POV that their weaselly conspirators had and it digests for us what follows soon after. Ellroy's last great book. It was all downhill after this.
Luke
The first in another history-minded trilogy, American Tabloid unpicks the hem of the myth of Camelot while keeping an eye on the main chance. The prose is as jacked-up as half the characters, and it moves forward with a terrifying urgency.

Like his other works, there's a lot of character specificity and a lot of fine detail evoked. But the Underworld USA trilogy manages to more convincingly convey a sense of momentousness, of this-is-probably-how-it-happened. But it ain't pretty.

Reading this bo
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Colin McKay Miller
Aug 25, 2012 Colin McKay Miller rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who can stand Ellroy's bent
Shelves: novels
James Ellroy’s American Tabloid may not be as good as The Black Dahlia, but it’s still an excellent, historically-based crime novel.

James Ellroy isn’t for everyone. It isn’t just his staccato neo-noir voice or his violent stories. He often writes characters that, at the very least, display racist and misogynistic tendencies. Ellroy himself has been accused of these very things and has responded in, well, Ellroy-like fashion (pretty much him insulting and cussing at people without really addressi
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AC
This totally works - and, as a JFK assassination buff (see my shelf), I loved it. It took awhile for the book to convince me, and some of it is certainly artificial -- I guess that's the noir element (which I dislike; hence, the missing star). But the characters are rich and believable - the Mob dialogue is hysterically funny (and I'm a guy who rarely laughs) -- and the plot intricate and original. A definite page-turner.
N. Jr.
This book is the first of a trilogy (USA Underworld), the second and third being The Cold Six Thousand and Blood's a Rover. 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 ...more
Chris Packham
James Ellroy is a crazy man with horrible, retrograde politics, but he writes like an angel. Like, a really smart angel who went to grad school and likes crime fiction. Holy crap, this book, you guys.
Jeff Averick
Playing loose and free with near-historical events and breathing twisted life into near-mythic figures - the Kennedys, Jimmy Hoffa, Castro, J. Edgar Hoover, Howard Hughes, The Mob, et al - Ellroy takes off on a joy ride of a novel, fueled by outrage and lots of coffee and/or other stimulants. What nerve! What audacity! To mercilessly grind these figures and the events of those days into a pulp! True? Not? Who cares!

Timing: Having enjoyed the plot games played on "Boardwalk Empire" with an overl
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F.C. Schaefer
I had this book on my shelf for a few years and finally got around to reading it and discovered that I had been missing a dynamite of a book. After writing many books on the underworld of the West Coast, most notably in L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, James Ellroy gave us a unique look at rise and fall of John F. Kennedy-the great triumphant and tragic myth of the post WWII era; instead Ellroy gives us a view of that time rooted in the revelations of JFK's womanizing, the CIA/Mafia alliance to assassinate Ca ...more
Tom

Kemper Boyd—suave FBI Agent infiltrating car theft rings. His best friend, Ward Littel, also an FBI agent, but a bored one stuck in Chicago. Pete Bondurant: a six-foot-five fixer for various underworld figures, including getting drugs for Howard Hughes.

Howard Hughes is not a fictional character, obviously. Nor are Jimmy
Hoffa and the very real mafia. Best of all, Boyd, Littel, and Bondurant team up with the mafia, militant Cubans, and KKK members to set up Bay of Pigs, then after JFK calls off t
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Hood
Bound: Re-Digging American Tabloid

SunPost Weekly April 14, 2011 | John Hood
http://bit.ly/gkb6Rc

50 Years After the Bay of Pigs, Ellroy’s Fiction Reads Like Mad Fact

‘Twas one of those weekends. I’d neither the time nor the inclination to hit the town, nor was I up to putting my nose to the ol’ proverbial grindstone. I wanted to get outta my head, and the wild world in which I live, even if only for one dogged day. Unfortunately I’d read every single work of fiction to come across my doorstep over
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Tim Niland
American Tabloid was James Ellroy's first volume in what would become his "American Underworld" series, an epic trilogy that amounted no nothing less than an alternative history of the Unites States from 1958-1973. The first volume follows the rise of John F. Kennedy from playboy senator through president and finally to martyr. Ellroy splits the narrative from the perspective of two FBI agents, one obsessed with breaking organized crime and the Teamsters union and the other following his own sel ...more
Martin
As far as secret/alternate histories go, this one takes the cake. I just love the way James Ellroy merged fiction & American history together so seamlessly. Cynics might argue that because so much of that era's events have been covered-up or distorted & that the general public has no clue what really went on, that Ellroy's fiction could very well be closer to the truth than we think. In any case, keeping in mind that this is fiction, it's an amazing ride.

I'm looking forward to reading
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Michael
At first I thought there were way too many characters and sides fighting against each other. It made it difficult to follow or to understand the characters. But then I realised, that is exactly what you want in a conspiracy/espionage novel; every side trying to setup or double cross each other, people playing a few sides in an attempt to achieve this.

The reason why I enjoy reading Ellroy books is simply because he knows how make it feel like I’m reading a book from the era. The way they talk, t
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Crime fiction and personal confessions 4 53 Jun 16, 2014 11:08AM  
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James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles in 1948. His L.A. Quartet novels—The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz—were international best sellers. His novel American Tabloid was Time magazine’s Best Book (fiction) of 1995; his memoir, My Dark Places, was a Time Best Book of the Year and a New York Times Notable Book for 1996. His novel The Cold Six Thousand was a New York ...more
More about James Ellroy...
The Black Dahlia (L.A. Quartet, #1) L.A. Confidential (L.A. Quartet, #3) The Big Nowhere (L.A. Quartet, #2) White Jazz (L.A. Quartet, #4) The Cold Six Thousand (Underworld USA #2)

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“America was never innocent. We popped our cherry on the boat over and looked back with no regrets. You can't ascribe our fall from grace to any single event or set of circumstances. You can't lose what you lacked at conception.
Mass-market nostalgia gets you hopped up for a past that never existed. Hagiography sanctifies shuck-and-jive politicians and reinvents their expedient gestures as moments of great moral weight. Our continuing narrative line is blurred past truth and hindsight. Only a reckless verisimilitude can set that line straight.
The real Trinity of Camelot was Look Good, Kick Ass, Get Laid. Jack Kennedy was the mythological front man for a particularly juicy slice of our history. He called a slick line and wore a world-class haircut. He was Bill Clinton minus pervasive media scrutiny and a few rolls of flab.
Jack got whacked at the optimum moment to assure his sainthood. Lies continue to swirl around his eternal flame. It's time to dislodge his urn and cast light on a few men who attended his ascent and facilitated his fall.
They were rouge cops and shakedown artist. They were wiretappers and soldiers of fortune and faggot lounge entertainers. Had one second of their lives deviated off course, American History would not exist as we know it.
It's time to demythologize an era and build a new myth from the gutter to the stars. It's time to embrace bad men and the price they paid to secretly define there time.
Here's to them.”
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“He used to pimp and pull shakedowns. Now he rode shotgun to History.” 3 likes
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