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Libra

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  9,729 Ratings  ·  506 Reviews
From the author of White Noise (winner of the National Book Award) and Zero K

In this powerful, eerily convincing fictional speculation on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Don DeLillo chronicles Lee Harvey Oswald's odyssey from troubled teenager to a man of precarious stability who imagines himself an agent of history. When "history" presents itself in the form of two
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Paperback, 480 pages
Published May 1st 1991 by Penguin (first published 1988)
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White Noise by Don DeLilloUnderworld by Don DeLilloLibra by Don DeLilloGreat Jones Street by Don DeLilloMao II by Don DeLillo
Don DeLillo ranked
3rd out of 15 books — 24 voters
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodThe Color Purple by Alice WalkerEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardMatilda by Roald DahlWatchmen by Alan Moore
Best Books of the Decade: 1980's
127th out of 1,213 books — 1,302 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Paul Bryant
Mar 24, 2011 Paul Bryant rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
I'm told that the Don DeLillo who wrote this masterpiece is the same guy who wrote Underworld and White Noise, but as far as I'm concerned that's a plainly ridiculous theory and I'm not buying it at all and I've hired a private investigator to get to the bottom of why there are two Don DeLillos and why this one hasn't sued the other idiot for giving him a bad name. It's a mystery.

Libra is entirely great. Its vocals, its backing, the bass, the drums, man alive the drums, the harmonies - celestia
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mark monday
Jun 25, 2012 mark monday rated it really liked it
a work of bright and ruthless genius, the jfk assassination as recounted by some alien being from the far future. well actually, not really, not at all. well actually, at times it felt like it. is delillo less than human or more than human? the novel makes no attempt to be historically factual. actually, the facts presented are reasonable and sound. the novel is historically factual, as much as anything can be. the narrative is, of course, almost too complex to be detailed. although it is, in it ...more
Agnieszka
Aug 21, 2014 Agnieszka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2013, reviewed

One can read Libra as a political thriller or a voice in the discussion about who actually stood behind one of the most notorious political assassinations of the twentieth century. Shots in Dallas proved that this an event can not be easily interpreted , it melts in the mist of conjectures and hypotheses and still is a breeding ground for more and more daring conspiracy theories.

(I’m not a huge fan of conspiracy theories , neither in books nor in real life . In fact we , in Poland have enough
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Megha
Mar 06, 2012 Megha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews

DeLillo and I are friends now!!
We had started off on the wrong foot, but Libra has patched things up. I too share Paul's suspicions about Libra and White Noise having been written by the same person. Had I been handed these two books without the cover, I wouldn't have known those words had flown out of the same figurative pen.

Libra is a terrific piece of work. It has a huge cast of characters and a very complex web of events, all handled neatly and elegantly. While DeLillo's characters never rea
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Marco Tamborrino
- Quando è il tuo compleanno?
- Il diciotto ottobre, - rispose Lee.
- Libra. La Bilancia.
- Sì, la Bilancia, - disse Ferrie
- L'Equilibrio, - disse Shaw.
Quelli della bilancia. Alcuni sono positivi, padroni di sé, equilibrati, con la testa a posto, saggi e rispettati da tutti. Altri invece sono negativi, cioè piuttosto instabili, impulsivi. Tanto, ma tanto, ma tanto influenzabili. Propensi a spiccare il salto pericoloso. In entrambi i casi, la chiave è l'equilibrio.


A volte finisci dei libri e non è
...more
Sentimental Surrealist
This fucking book, man, it just leaves me at a complete loss for words. I've heard people discredit the terrific work DeLillo did to make Oswald a compelling and complex character - maybe DeLillo's most compelling and most complex character - because Don was working with a real person and therefore had plenty of raw material to go with, but I insist that it takes just as much talent to sculpt what is known of Oswald (his upbringing, his politics, his time in the war) into a real and weirdly rela ...more
João Carlos
Oct 26, 2015 João Carlos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: l2014, favorites, 2014best

John F. Kennedy - assassinato - 22 de Novembro de 1963 - Dallas

Don DeLillo (n. 1936) escreve um romance sobre a "história" do assassinato de John F. Kennedy – um estudo sobre os homens que moldaram a história, num relato sobre os acontecimentos trágicos que ocorreram em Dallas, na manhã de 22 de Novembro de 1963.
Durante três anos DeLillo investiga e analisa inúmeros documentos – com destaque para o Relatório da Comissão Warren, processos judiciais, artigos de jornais e revistas – escrevendo um
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Sean Wilson
“Facts are lonely things.”

American history is profoundly dark in its timeline. From the slaughtering and near genocidal extermination of the Native Americans to the 9/11 attacks, American history presents itself as an almost constant struggle for survival. History has not been so kind when it comes to America. Inevitably, and understandably, it is so very interesting, and the American people are also equally interesting. Their history is internationally relatable due to the ancestral voyages u
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Michael
"Facts all come with points of view."
--Talking Heads

I became reasonably convinced that Libra is Don DeLillo's masterpiece about halfway through. After slogging through the first quarter of the novel -- you're introduced to dozens of characters, and they're all revealed to you in that customarily opaque way that any reader of DeLillo will instantly recognize, and the dialogue only takes you so far because DeLillo characters don't talk to each other so much as around each other, and it takes a wh
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Lee
Oct 29, 2007 Lee rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This one took about a month to read so I should respect that time turning its pages and write a few commemorative words. All I can really say is that on every page the writing reeks of literature, but rarely is it literary. What I mean is that DeLillo's sentences always seem to have an eye on a subtextual prize, that is, they always seem like an updated, abstract response to that question posed long ago by some cavedweller about the meaning of life, as opposed to turns of phrase for the sake of ...more
Carla
Nov 06, 2015 Carla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015


“Libra” é uma obra de ficção que ensaia uma teoria sobre o assassinato do Presidente Kennedy e que tenta, de forma incansável, responder à pergunta – Quem era Lee Harvey Oswald? Encontramos, portanto, esta dupla vertente narrativa ao logo de um texto fragmentário por opção e pejado de vozes, algumas mais interessantes do que outras, sendo que todas convergem rumo à figura de Lee Harvey Oswald.
“Libra” parece ser ainda uma tentativa para contrariar as inúmeras incoerências do Relatório da Comissã
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AC
Spoilers -- kind of....

This is a really great book -- for most of it, I really loved this -- partially because I'm an assassination buff, but also because there's a taut intelligence and poetry in much of the writing, and also (I thought, at least) some really sublime characterization and lots of Plot MoMo. The treatment of David Ferrie -- for example when he meets with Carmine .... just great writing...

This is my first DeLillo - and I know a lot of people here think he's way overrated -- so I
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kaelan
Jun 20, 2015 kaelan rated it liked it
Preamble.

A few days after finishing Libra, I went out for drinks with a good friend/DeLillo-aficionado and naturally a heated discussion ensued. What follows is largely the result of this conversation.

Review.

In her (or his) first-ever interview, the artist generally known as "Elena Ferrante" attempted to articulate the literary relationship between truth and style:
Literary truth is not the truth of the biographer or the reports, it's not a police report or a sentence handed down by a court. It's
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Justin Evans
Nov 18, 2013 Justin Evans rated it it was amazing
I unintentionally finished this days before the 50th anniversary of JFK's death, which made the whole thing even more enjoyable, if that's the right word. Aside from a bit of the good ole American prose (and its general fear of syntax more complex than subject-verb-object), and brief moments of postmodern angst (can we know anything???), this is an excellent, excellent book. It's easy to read but doesn't ignore the possibility that writing may (I'd go as far as 'should') be noticeable. But most ...more
sologdin
Oct 20, 2014 sologdin rated it it was ok
Nutshell: soporific account of JFK assassination, intermixed with bildungsroman of assassin, with implied subtitle The Sorrows of Young Lee Harvey.

Narrative is bifurcated into alternating sections. First set are designated by locus: New Orleans, Moscow, Dallas—these follow Oswald. Second set are designated by tempus: 20 May, 25 September, 22 November—these follow CIA losers, anti-castroites, other unsavories.

Text ties tempus and locus together explicitly in Oswald: “from early childhood he liked
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James
Dec 02, 2014 James rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
I only made it two-thirds of the way through this. I see why people like it so much. Unfortunately, this just isn't for me. The story about LH Oswald is interesting, but the second narrative strand about the conspiracy is tedious and just bored me to the point of not wanting to finish it.
Ian Scuffling
Jan 08, 2014 Ian Scuffling rated it liked it
There's a special element to DeLillo's writing where you go along reading and suddenly, unexpectedly, there's a passage that sends forth a couple tentacles that squeeze you tightly--unsettle you from your comfortable reading spot. You're in awe, gripped with epiphany--stunned, really. Moments that only come at the hands of a master. But then sometimes there's a crippling mediocrity that punishes you. Maybe it's DeLillo's game with the reader--holding you so distant and cold that when the magnitu ...more
qtasha
Most people don't like playing with known history facts but its done with so such skill, the getting into Oswald head his serious nature, but living in a fantasy world with his limited skills a Russian wife with the American dream that he can't provide for his leftist political ideals. in spite of the murdering of the president of the united states you get the feeling this guy can't get a break he's like beaten dog. The other character who may or may not be a real person or based on a real perso ...more
Vit Babenco
Dec 18, 2014 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing
Dead president's corpse in the driver's car. The engine runs on glue and tar…
“Let’s devote our lives to understanding this moment, separating the elements of each crowded second. We will build theories that gleam like jade idols, intriguing systems of assumption, four-faced, graceful. We will follow the bullet trajectories backwards to the lives that occupy the shadows, actual men who moan in their dreams.”
There is a system and there are those who serve it. There are cats and there are cat’s paw
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Tim Niland
Feb 28, 2015 Tim Niland rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015-reads
Isn't it an amazing feeling when you finish a book that is so engrossing that it feels like you are coming up for air when you turn the final page? This is one such book - an audacious project, to create a fictional version of the events leading up to and immediately after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. DeLillo's book is a triumph of speculative fiction, juggling multiple plot lines including the life of Lee Harvey Oswald from his young adulthood, through the military, his ill-fated defec ...more
Philippe
Feb 01, 2011 Philippe rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Libra was my first DeLillo read and I found it to be a very compelling one. The first few hundred pages of the book meander menacingly along like a slow movement in a Shostacovich symphony. There is no humour, no quickening of the pulse anywhere: instead we see bleakness, we feel the oppressing humidity of the South and witness the claustrophobic plotting of 'men in small rooms'. At first I was less taken by DeLillo's montage technique, but I honestly can't see how he otherwise would have been a ...more
Jeremy
Jul 19, 2014 Jeremy rated it liked it
Shelves: american-fiction
It feels more centered, more focused than White Noise, in large part since it takes such a specific event and builds a weird, fevered narrative around it. It Shows how a group of extremely powerful but extremely isolated zealots find themselves drawn into a labyrinth connected by coincidence/destiny/large, vaguely defined forces of history. On one level Delillo is offering a very contemporary sort of critique about the nature of conspiracy theories and how people conceive of and develop them as ...more
Simona
Jan 09, 2014 Simona rated it it was amazing
22 novembre 1963: il fotogramma di un istante tremendo, un istante che ha cambiato il destino dell'America e anche di Lee Harvey Oswald, forse per sempre.
Da una parte, il covo degli attentatori, di coloro che preparano, organizzano il colpo alla vita di Kennedy e di sua moglie Jackie, dall'altro, la loro pedina, il loro burattino personificato nella figura di Lee Oswald, vissuto tra Bronx, New Orleans, Dallas, dal passato incerto, che si arruola nei Marines per poi esserne espulso.
Sebbene ques
...more
Drew
Feb 14, 2011 Drew rated it really liked it
If you're into DeLillo, this is a must read. A disturbingly plausible fabrication, complete with conspiracy, celebrity, and philosophy. I have to say, though, some of the stylistic things that got me into DeLillo in the first place have now become irritating tics. His characters have a tendency to spout philosophy in an erudite and well-considered way that doesn't really make sense for their character -- or, especially, in this case, real historical personages.

They also have a tendency to walk i
...more
Bam
Excellent! This is the second of Don DeLillo's books I have read and he is quickly becoming a favorite author of mine. LIBRA is an intriguing fictional imagining of how a conspiracy might have been behind the assassination of President John F. Kennedy--"the seven seconds that broke the back of the American century." Richly-detailed chapters alternate between telling the story of Oswald's life while we watch the assassination plot being formed by disgruntled CIA agents and exiled Cubans, angry ab ...more
Rayroy
Jun 07, 2013 Rayroy rated it really liked it
Death. Delillo writes about death how we try to idle it by watching T.V. and at the same time hasten it with technology, tehnology that creates advanced weapons used in war. iphone apps that kill.
Caroline
Nov 25, 2015 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: america, sixties

I've read this three times now and I still think it's utterly brilliant.
Ok you must know by now what this is about - the shot that was heard all around the world. The moment in time that is frozen forever in the frames of Zapruder's home movie. That wicked few seconds that sums up America in the sixties.
Of course there are the conspiracy theorists but DeLillo dismisses these as easily as swatting a fly. A lone gunman named Lee Harvey Oswald. A chilling event that it is said broke the back of A
...more
Tim
This was a magnificent novel, far better than the other books of DeLillo's that I have read imo. This is the best piece of contemporary historical fiction I can think of, even though that is not exactly a thriving genre. It is a wonderful read - savvy and cynical, well-researched, and peppered with incisive humor and moments of brilliant writing. DeLillo has learned from Hemingway; he is terse and direct with descriptions of both the inner and outer worlds, and he makes his phrases tell. He has ...more
John Pistelli
In earlier times, the bullet had been other things, because Pythagorean metempsychosis is not reserved for humankind alone.

—Borges, "In Memoriam, J.F.K." (trans. Andrew Hurley)

Literature is the attempt to interpret, in an ingenious way, the myths we no longer understand, at the moment we no longer understand them, since we no longer know how to dream them or reproduce them. Literature is the competition of misinterpretations that consciousness naturally and necessarily produces on themes of the
...more
Phil
Oct 15, 2011 Phil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
My understanding of the general consensus is that Don DeLillo peaked with the four-book run of White Noise, Libra, Mao II, and Underworld. Having enjoyed Mao II and been downright floored by White Noise and Underworld, I intentionally put off reading Libra. I wanted to keep it in reserve as a special treat. A few days ago I looked at the nice hardcover copy I've had sitting on a shelf for several years and finally broke down, tearing into it with greedy relish. Don did not let me down. I think L ...more
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Don DeLillo is an American author best known for his novels, which paint detailed portraits of American life in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. He currently lives outside of New York City.

Among the most influential American writers of the past decades, DeLillo has received, among author awards, a National Book Award (White Noise, 1985), a PEN/Faulkner Award (Mao II, 1991), and an American
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“Facts are lonely things” 69 likes
“Some nights I need to be held. Tonight I'm a listener. So nice to lie in rumpled sheets and listen. Cover me with words.” 24 likes
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