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Oswald's Tale: An American Mystery

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  717 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
In perhaps his most important literary feat, Norman Mailer fashions an unprecedented portrait of one of the great villains—and enigmas—in United States history. Here is Lee Harvey Oswald—his family background, troubled marriage, controversial journey to Russia, and return to an “America [waiting] for him like an angry relative whose eyes glare in the heat.” Based on KGB an ...more
Paperback, 864 pages
Published June 25th 1996 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 1995)
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Feb 01, 2016 Ahmed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

سرد مميز واستهلال رائع وتنقل ممتع بين الأحداث والشخصيات مع اختلاف الرواة، كل ذلك يدور حول شخصية شهيرة اُتهمت بارتكاب الجريمة الأشهر في التاريخ وهي اغتيال الرئيس الأمريكي الأشهر جون كينيدي.

الاتحاد السوفيتي في ستينات القرن النصرم، وحياة الشعب فيه وما يتعرضوا له وما يعانونه في حياتهم، وكيف يقتاتون رزقهم، ونظرتهم للأمريكان وكيفية تعاملهم معهم، كل ذلك يلقي نظرة مكثفة على السوفيت ونمط معيشتهم.

لي أوزوالد: يبدو في الجزء الأول من الحكاية، شخص غريب وعجيب لم تظهر عليه بوادر عبقرية أو جنون أو إيمان عميق يسي
In this epic work, Norman Mailer shows the complexity that is Lee Harvey Oswald and leaves the reader to determine: Did he have the soul of a Killer?

Mailer begins with Oswald’s trip to Russia and works backward through Oswald’s early family life, then forward with through his return to the US with his Russian wife. I took this book on a long flight (next trip I’m digital), so If I hadn’t been a captive audience, I wouldn’t have finished it. The early part is almost straight reporting, covering
Feb 01, 2016 Ahmed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

في هذا الكتاب تظهر براعة ميلر الصحفية بتحليلاته الأنيقة وآراءه الشيقة،يسرد الكاتب حياة قاتل كينيدي الافتراضية في أميركا ونشئته عبر شهادات أسرته ومحيطه الإنساني، كل ذلك عبر مراحل حياته المبكرة .

من أم واثقة بنفسها لدرجة الغرور، وحياة عائلية مشتتة، ولكن السؤال المهم كيف لجندي مارينز أن يغتال رئيس أمريكا المحبوب؟ وهذا ما يجيب عنه ميلر في صوراته وجولاته عن حياته،وكيف بدأ في قراءة ماركس ولينين منذ كان في السادسة عشر من عمره، وفي النهاية يبدو من الفئة المهمشة النكرة ضعيفة الشخصية للغاية.

في المجمل: الكت
Oct 04, 2012 Katie rated it it was amazing
After reading Stephen King's 22/11/63 I thought it was time I finally delved into the Kennedy assassination and through internet searches decided on Oswald's Tale as a good starting (and in my case ending) point. I'd read The Executioner's Song when it first came out, but hadn't read anything else by Mailer so I didn't know what to expect.

The book is amazing in its depth, detail, the research and new light thrown on Oswald, especially his time in what was then the USSR. Mailer and his colleagues
Terry Bonner
Jun 15, 2012 Terry Bonner rated it really liked it
Over the last forty years I have read far too many books on the Kennedy assassination to be considered healthy. It is quite easy to be persuaded by presentations of specious evidence and half-baked conspiracy theories. This book, albeit not one of Mailer's best efforts, was the last book I ever ever read on the subject. The portrait of Oswald which Mailer's paints in broad strokes as he embarks on his own personal pilgrimage through the files of the House Select Committee and the KGB archives is ...more
Erik Graff
Aug 21, 2011 Erik Graff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Americans
Recommended to Erik by: Fin Einar Graff
Shelves: literature
The Kennedy assassination was first rumored during afternoon recess from Lincoln Junior High School. It being Park Ridge, Illinois, a number of seventh graders took it as good news. No one doubted the rumor. I was asked by another kid who'd become president now and had to think for a moment before coming up with Lyndon B. Johnson.

After recess we were taken from class to the downstairs auditorium where we were addressed, solemnly, by Clifford Sweat, our principal. The teachers all appeared seriou
Jan 22, 2016 Andrew rated it it was amazing
The problem with reviewing a book by Norman Mailer is that it is a little like reviewing The Bible in that most people have heard about it, many people have strong opinions that they have shared and, of course, everyone has heard of the author…

But, screw it, here’s my two cents worth.

Mailer has written a superb novel split into two parts; the first deals with Oswald’s time in Russia and is based on notes made available by the former KGB. The second deals with the “American” Oswald, exploring his
Nick Sweet
Jul 24, 2012 Nick Sweet rated it it was amazing
Reading Oswald's Tale was one of those fantastic reading experiences I'll never forget. Mailer made his name initially with The Naked and the Dead, which didn't really do much for me. I thought The Deer Park was pretty mediocre and hated Barbary Shore, An American Dream, and Ancient Evenings and think Tough Guys Don't Dance is one of the worst books I've ever read from cover to cover (I only finished reading it to find out if it continued to be as bad as I thought it was going to be...), so none ...more
Sep 26, 2016 Mike rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Mike by: William

Traveling in Texas recently, I was able to stop for a day in Dallas; I took a taxi to Main Street, and got out about a mile from where it turns into N Houston. I walked the rest of the way and made a right on N Houston; around the corner is the former Book Depository, now a museum.

A car backfired, or something, while I was standing at the Zapruder spot, and the person next to me jumped. There’s graffiti on the fence above the grassy knoll. Someone has written, “Bill Hicks was right about everyt
Dec 22, 2008 Stephan rated it it was amazing
Mailer's insights and description of life in the late 50's and early 60's Soviet Union was fascinating and his following Oswald's journey there was unembellished and intriguing because of that. For a man who went to the archives of the KGB leaning toward a conspiracy of some sort and be brave enough to come to a different conclusion when the facts led him to that, was very brave indeed. And Oswald's life here leading up to the assassination was at least as compelling. It all added up to the conc ...more
Feb 06, 2016 Ryan rated it it was amazing
mailer recounts the known facts about oswald's life, drawing on his own interviews and other primary sources. we learn about oswald in moscow and minsk, are ushered through the warren commission's report, and are given guidance and understanding by a brilliant journalist. oswald was under surveillance almost constantly from his defection in 1959 until his death in 1963. i wonder how my character would stand up if the entire world had access to my every word for 4 years? i read conversations betw ...more
Dec 17, 2008 Andy rated it it was amazing
Fascinating in depth research of Oswald's life. And leaves you thinking he was unstable enough to have acted alone and secretive enough to have been an operative.
Richard Kramer
Jul 27, 2014 Richard Kramer rated it it was amazing
If you like to read, and like to live with books, you learn that some books wait, shyly, for a mutual friend to say “I think you two might like each other.” Sometimes the fix-up doesn’t work — you just say yes, you take your chances — but when it does you feel grateful to that friend, forever, that he knew you like that. Knew the two of you, you and the book.

Manny at Book Soup is one of those friends. Book Soup is on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Everything around it keeps closing, but Book S
Patrick Di Justo
Jan 30, 2014 Patrick Di Justo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
I'm 125 pages into this book and I'm absolutely blown away. mailer is an absolute genius. More later!

I finished all 866 pages and Mailer is still a genius! Soon after the fall of the Soviet Union, he and a researcher went to the CIS and tracked down KGB officers and Intourist guides and everyday people who knew Lee Harvey Oswald when he lived in Russia. These people, who had not told their stories for 30 years, provide a new look at Oswald: who he was, how he acted, etc. He seems to have been a
Cathy DePaolo
Oct 24, 2011 Cathy DePaolo rated it it was ok
I didn't like Mailer's writing style. He was all over the place and wrote in his Russian subject's voice, even when not quoting him/her which was really difficult to read and follow.

I didn't have many facts on Oswald or the shooting and Mailer made assumptions in his writing that whomever was reading his accounting was pretty familiar with the cast of characters and the events surrounding the shooting, which was a bit off-putting as well.

Overall, I wouldn't recommend the book. Some of the accou
Jack Bates
Jul 02, 2016 Jack Bates rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the first book by Mailer I read, having heard a lot about him, of course. But I didn't read it because of who it was by, I read it because I was a bit obsessed with the JFK assassination and particularly with Lee Harvey Oswald.

So this is based mostly on the transcripts of Lee and Marina's life in Minsk, the wiretaps in their house set up by the KGB after Lee defected to the USSR, plus FBI transcripts, government reports, interviews, letters, diaries.

The Minsk section is especially fasc
Lee (Rocky)
Nov 11, 2014 Lee (Rocky) rated it it was amazing
This is a great book, propelled by both its intriguing subject matter, as well as Norman Mailer's abilities as a writer. It is a rather non-traditional biography, starting not with Oswald's childhood, but instead with the time that he spent in Russia. Details of Oswald's life in Russia as well as back in the U.S. after his return are explored, with facts carefully laid out alongside speculation and assumptions. These assumptions would be a problem if Mailer weren't explicit about when he was mak ...more
Robert Clancy
More like one enormous Wiki page than a tightly crafted biography, Mailer copies interviews, testimonies, pages from other books and connects them with his own controversial, outrageous comments and insights.
But like a bloody, messy highway accident at which you can't keep staring, Mailer's factoids about Oswald are mind-blowing, however. For instance, one of Oswald's friends in Dallas was a quasi-Russian immigrant, quasi-aristocrat, oil surveyor, playboy and possible CIA operative named Baron G
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
I love Mailer's books, and I've read most of them. Oswald's Tale: An American Mystery is a good one. The assassination of John F. Kennedy was, if you will, my generation's 9/11. I remember precisely where I was when I heard that the president had been killed, and I vividly recall the surrealistic fog that the nation entered into for the next few weeks as we all endeavored to rationalize what had happened and what would happen. Consequently, I have always been mystified and fascinated by what cou ...more
Mar 02, 2008 Page rated it it was amazing
This is a great background story that will put many but not all Conspiracy Theories about Kennedy's assassination to rest. It is written by a novelist and is gripping and full of information. It was a random pick up and a pleasant surprise. I plan to read more of Mailer.
Jan 01, 2012 Christian.scott rated it it was amazing
Brilliant and engaging, I have read dozens of JFK/Oswald books and this one showed me things I had never seen before and made the whole saga plausible.
Dec 31, 2015 Brenda rated it liked it
A "novelistic" approach to the life of Lee Harvey Oswald.

Extremely interesting, frustrating read. Mailer interviewed Marina Oswald, her family, and many people who knew or met Oswald when he was living in Russia. The second half of the book covers his return to the States through interviews with Oswald's family and those that came in contact with him here. The main fault in the work comes from the scattershot aspect of Mailer's compilation of the interviews. It felt kaleidoscopic, splintered, an
Sep 08, 2016 Fernando rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No hay pozo mas profundo para Oswald que el abismo del amor no correspondido.
Duncan Macdonald
The writing style is pure Norman Mailer and I can live with that. I enjoyed learning about Lee Oswald's time in Russia. I learned a lot. His book leaves NO DOUBT that Lee Oswald tried to kill Edwin Walker, killed JFK and murdered Tippit. Problem is, I don't think it's that cut and dried, as evidence and scientific theories have pointed to in more modern times. Also, Mailer promotes Lee Oswald as a gay wife beater as well as a murderer who was apparently bipolar. Finally, he relies too much on Lo ...more
Dec 31, 2015 Marsha added it
This long biography of Lee Harvey Oswald was extremely interesting to me. Oswald is, of course, known for assassinating President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. There are many conspiracy theories stating that he did not act alone. My interest grew in Oswald when I visited the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas in September 2015. The museum is located in the former Book Depository where Oswald was working, and allegedly shot the president from the sixth floor of this building during the Preside ...more
Gregory Klages
Apr 04, 2016 Gregory Klages rated it liked it
Oswald's Tale is bit of a "dog's breakfast"; the first forty-percent of the book is a close consideration of Oswald's time living in the Soviet Union. Mailer and associates spent about six months locating and interviewing people who had contact with Oswald, ranging through love interests, co-workers, and KGB agents who spied on Oswald. Information gained from these interviews is supplemented with knowledge gained from documents produced during that time, primarily by Soviet state agencies. The s ...more
Leer historia es sacralizar la mentira. Sé con absoluta certeza que todos mentimos, no importa el pretexto, todos mentimos. El significado de leer historias de quienes algo hicieron, por lo común causaron muertes, una o muchas, es adentrarte en el lado más oscuro de lo humano sin porqués ni causa alguna de sus abominables conductas. Leer acerca de Lee es leer acerca de la nada. Quizá los 5 minutos de fama que pronosticaba Warhol, quizá lo que sea que haya sido, matar nunca, excepto en la propia ...more
Christine Ward
In this book, Mailer attempts to figure out who Lee Harvey Oswald was, and why he assassinated JFK - if he even was the assassin. It is no small task to accomplish this, but with his meticulous research, Mailer does a good job at capturing Oswald's, as well as Marina's, life in Russia. Mailer also does a good job at describing the points of view of many of the people who encountered Oswald and Marina, both in Russia and in the USA, but some of his psychological assessments and purported "insight ...more
Sep 01, 2009 Dan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A big long biography of Lee Harvey Oswald, who is alleged to have assassinated President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The great thing about this book is that Mailer was able to get access to detailed information about Oswald's experiences while he was living in Russia, both by interviewing Oswald's widow, Marina, and spending time in Minsk interviewing people there who knew Oswald. Mailer's conclusions about what happened on November 22, 1963 are different from mine, but there is a lot of informatio ...more
Mar 27, 2013 Richelle rated it it was amazing
If you are looking to expand upon your knowledge of the various theories surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, this book is a must-read. Having made my way through numerous books on the subject, most of which were based on the notion that the Mafia and CIA were implicated with varying degrees of involvement, Mailer's book was the first I'd come across that argued the theory of Oswald as the lone gunman. While it is easy to be persuaded in either direction with all of the ev ...more
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Norman Kingsley Mailer was an American novelist, journalist, essayist, poet, playwright, screenwriter, and film director.

Along with Truman Capote, Joan Didion, and Tom Wolfe, Mailer is considered an innovator of creative nonfiction, a genre sometimes called New Journalism, but which covers the essay to the nonfiction novel. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize twice and the National Book Award once.
More about Norman Mailer...

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