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The Cold Six Thousand

(Underworld USA #2)

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  6,084 Ratings  ·  310 Reviews
In this savagely audacious novel, James Ellroy plants a pipe bomb under the America in the 1960s, lights the fuse, and watches the shrapnel fly. On November 22, 1963 three men converge in Dallas. Their job: to clean up the JFK hit’s loose ends and inconvenient witnesses. They are Wayne Tedrow, Jr., a Las Vegas cop with family ties to the lunatic right; Ward J. Littell, a d ...more
Paperback, 688 pages
Published June 11th 2002 by Vintage (first published March 2001)
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Jul 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
“There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white*” -- nixon was a racist, red-baiting bastard. nixon was a paranoid insecure fuck. nixon jacked off reminiscing about bugging offices and launching latin american juntas. nixon said "make their economy scream" to 'the jew' (his term of affection for kissinger) as a means to destabilize Chile in order to insert an american friendly right-wing dicktator.

LBJ was cheating on Ladybird, stealing elections, c
American Tabloid was about criminals making history and culminated with the plot to kill Jack Kennedy. In The Cold Six Thousand, the characters aren't trying to make history, they're just trying to survive it.

American Tabloid is one of my all-time favorite books. The second part of this trilogy has always been a bit of a disappointment to me. I read both again to prep for the release of the final book, Blood's A Rover. With that one sitting here, just waiting for me to start reading, I'm feeling
*3.5 Stars*
"You never know when you might rub shoulders with history."
Well here it is, the book that ends my 5-star streak with James Ellroy's books. But it's definitely not a bad book, just not as impressively crafted as the others and much more difficult to read.

John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy, all assassinated within five years, all by lone gunmen who all claimed to not be the only ones involved. Coincidence? James Ellroy thinks not, and just as in the stel
Aug 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone not looking for cheer
This one gets the full-on review because I wrote one up a few years back in an attempt to understand whether I liked the book. I'm a big Ellroy fan, but the moral stance he takes in this novel is complex, and I had to think it through. I end up siding with him, if you don't want the whole thing. Or, if you have a few minutes:

James Ellroy’s novel The Cold Six Thousand, is an addictively compelling story driven almost exclusively by morally repugnant characters. The characters in Ellroy’s police n
To be fair: 'American Tabloid' was Ellroy's best novel, and the sequels had little chance of topping it. With 'The Cold Six Thousand', he picks up right where he left off: the assassination of JFK, orchestrated by a group of gangsters, mercenaries, and CIA hardcases, pissed off over the bloody and embarrassing 'Bay of Pigs' fiasco.


This time the bullseye is on Martin Luther King, as he makes enemies that include a Mormon power-broker and 'Company' connected tough guys selling heroin smuggled in
Oct 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
"I'm seeing visions, Dwight. I'm seeing all the Latter-day Saints."
― James Ellroy, The Cold Six Thousand


I remember when I was 5, thinking: "if I just didn't screw up, I could have been Jesus". I remember when I was 8, thinking: "if I just killed myself when I was 7, I could have gone straight to Heaven." I remember when I was 12, thinking: "Mormons could make fantastic mobsters." I hadn't yet learned about the John Birch society. I hand't learned about Howard Hughes and his cabal of Mormon fix-i
Apr 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, favorites
American Tabloid ends with Pete Bourdant watching Barbara do a rendition of "Unchained Melody" in some Dallas lunchtime geek joint on a particularly historical November morning in 1963. The novel ends with Pete watching and waiting for the screams to start.

The Cold Six Thousand picks up earlier that morning with a new character Wayne Tedrow Jr. flying from Vegas to Dallas to hunt down a black (sorry I can't bring myself to use a more PC term nor can I bring myself to put the N word in the revie
This trilogy presents something like a postmodern (L.-F.) Céline. If L.-F. came back to life in contemporary America, this is the sort of thing he might have written (I am talking, of course, about 'late' Céline -- Castle to Castle, etc.). It is very intense. Perhaps one has to be obsessed with the period/events to 'dig it' -- as I am.

Céline, of course, is more authentic -- Ellroy is fictionalizing far more. I'm sure Fred Otash (whom I now realize I sorta crossed paths with as a teenager -- so m
Jul 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime, historical
Retire me. I'm stretched thin. It hurts to sleep. My hate life's a mess.

(This review will assume you've read American Tabloid.)

The Cold Six Thousand is a jittery, ugly, brilliant, haunting, flawed, and unforgettable book, and the first thing you need to know about it is I used more commas writing this sentence than James Ellroy used in this entire novel. I just want to get that out of the way. I said that White Jazz's chopped-up style worked well as an expression of Dave Klein's paranoia and r
The Cold Six Thousand starts like a rude slap in the face interrupting a deep sleep. We pick up where the preceding volume American Tabloid left off: November 22nd, 1963. JFK has just been shot in Dealey Plaza. We already know Pete Bondurant and Ward Littell and their involvement in the assassination, but a new man blows into town on the 22nd; Wayne Tedrow, Jr. Wayne works for the Las Vegas police department and is sent by the mob to Dallas to kill a pimp named Wendell Durfee for assaulting a de ...more
Erik Graff
Aug 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: conspiracy theory fans
Recommended to Erik by: John Elkin
Shelves: literature
This book, recommended by my roommate, is the second in a three-volume series reimagining some of the major events of the second half of the twentieth century in America: the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, the assassinations of King and the Kennedy brothers--and, I suspect, events inclusive of Watergate in the third volume. The players are just the kind of CIA-, FBI-, Mafia-connected thugs often adduced (quite plausibly, I think) behind the aforementioned political assassinations. The atmosphere is dark, ...more
Apr 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime
As excited as I was to read Ellroy's American Tabloid, I found this sequel a bit disappointing. The story continues to follow several mercenaries, politicos, and downright nasty criminal types, as it moves from the JFK assassination in '63, through the assassinations of MLK and RFK in '68. There's a lot of hard-boiled crime and political manipulation stuff that's pretty interesting, as the three main characters try to eliminate anyone in the know about the JFK assassination. However, there are s ...more
Jan 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Is it just me or is this the choppiest Ellroy novel yet? While that clipped style worked very well for me in White Jazz and--to my astonishment--even better in American Tabloid, I found Cold Six to be straddling almost Dick and Jane-like syntactical territory so often, it is almost sinful--makes Hemingway look like Henry James.
Despite this griping, I found myself mesmerized by longish passages in the book which give me pause to wonder if we do not have an epic poem in crime-novel disguise on ou
Chilly SavageMelon
Jul 20, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-thriller
Ellroy writes. Short, clipped, fragment sentences. Guys do shit. Girls do shit. Many characters are similar. Style doesn't help. '63 -'68. The killing of John to the killing of Bobby. MLK, CIA, FBI. Hoover. Hughes. Vegas. 'Nam. The shit goes on for 670 pages. Is this a novel, or the notes for said novel? Ellroy did this to me with White Jazz. Didn't dig it as much as some of his other stuff. Lack of style. Or wrong style. Minimalism can lead to heavy hits. Big Impact. Or it can come off as absur ...more
The Crimson Fucker
Sep 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
WARNING: reading more than 50 pages of this book after a six hour Marathon Final Fantasy Crisis Core, finishing The Catcher in the Rye and watching a crappy Bruce Willis movie may result in total and absolute psychological melt down… that being said I’ma go put on my aluminum foil hat and protect my cake flour cuz I know them aliens want it!!!
Titus Burley
Mar 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Can a book trouble, offend, unsettle, blaspheme, and ultimately flagellate the senses of its readers and still be a five star book that upon completing you immediately place in your "I will read again" category of important titles? Welcome to the realm of James Ellroy books. The late Barbara Seranella, a wonderful author in her own right, once told me in a long one on one conversation at a book event about attending a particular group's meetings (ahem, I won't mention the two initials of the gro ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
The first book in this Underworld series, 'American Tabloid', is a conspiracy theorist's wet-dream, and, arguably, an American Canon literary classic. However, 'The Cold Six Thousand', the second in the series, fell considerably short of my expectations, sort of a low-rent charmless Pulp Fiction movie.

The clipped sentences, which are like notes from some journalist's war diary, and the surviving characters from the first book, continue to tell all about the supposedly linked assassinations of J
Oct 11, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, 0-gut-emotions
superata la possibilità abbandono

E' dura questa quasi prima esperienza nel genere, immediatamente chiara è solo la collocazione spazio-temporale iniziale: Dallas, 22 novembre 1963. Ho già letto e riletto alcune decine di pagine che ora sono segnate a margine, sottolineate e già sciupate e inizio a capire che forse le figure principali, a parte i morti, sono Wayne Tedrow, Ward Littell e Pete Bondurant ma anche le loro (o non proprio loro) donne lo sono, forse, e inizio anche a capire che qui la n
Feb 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
the author, commenting on this book in the Paris Review:
"The book has flaws. It’s too long, and the style is too rigorous for such a complicated story—.... It’s a big picaresque mess, and too demanding a read. But the stamina of it is sui generis. If you get it, you get it. It might not be your favorite of my books, but you can appreciate its scope, its audacity."

I really liked it. Nothing quite like it, even among Ellroy's books. If you enjoy Pynchon, the pronounced style here won't trouble you
Aug 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Another breathtaking, snarled novel by Ellroy, filled with phenomenally unlikeable people doing despicable things, and you can't stop reading it. Starts with the Kennedy assassination in Dallas and goes on to police corruption in Vegas, the mob, Cuba, the start of the war in Vietnam, sexual shenanigans, racism and the civil rights movement, Edgar Hoover and Howard Hughes, in other words, every damn thing that happened in 1963 and '64... I love this dirty poetry, so for an extra treat, I'm listen ...more
Dec 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If you want to try to get wise about politics, violence and crime, the easy way, then read this seminal book of history, secret history, historical fiction, and language. I think it's more interesting than AMERICAN TABLOID, the first in his "Underworld Trilogy," because events and figures like JFK/RFK(and their murders), Vietnam, civil rights, Martin Luther King (and his murder), are more dramatic than what happened during the time span of American Tabloid. The central event in American Tabloid ...more
Roderick Hart
Oct 17, 2008 rated it liked it
Distinguishing features of this book are staccato ‘sentences’ and extreme violence. I got truly fed up with the sheer quantity of ‘scoped’, ‘braced’ and ‘clipped’. The staccato thing is an affectation of the author, who can write genuine sentences when he wants to. He usually wants to during exchanges between J Edgar Hoover and others, these having the effect of making J Edgar appear the most articulate individual in the book. I tend to think you can’t be articulate without being intelligent, so ...more
Jun 18, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This volume of James Ellroy’s alternate and hysterical history of the Sixties, stretches from the aftermath of the JFK assassination right up to the death of RFK. That was obviously a turbulent period in American history and it’s not surprising that this book at times feels rushed, as if trying to unpack too much at once. Which in a way is odd, as it also feels at points more style over substance. All of Ellroy’s various literary ticks are given full reign in this volume, to the level that someo ...more
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Rustin smiled. “Do you hate him?”
“After what he put you through?”
“I find it hard to hate people who are that true to themselves.”

I don’t even know who could write a book like this, except Ellroy’s written more than one. It’s nasty and brutish and closer to the truth of things than history books can get. I dig his humanity in the midst of humanity doing despicable things.

pierlapo  quimby
Nov 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anglofoni
In Sei pezzi da mille, Ellroy schiaccia il piede sull'acceleratore. Rompe ossa. Spacca culi.
Uomini e donne vivono la Vita. Uomini come Ward Littell, come le Grand Pierre Bondurant, come Wayne Tedrow Jr. Donne come Jane-Arden Smith, Barb Jahelka, Janice Lukens.
Uomini e donne che vivono la Vita davanti ai tuoi occhi, pagina dopo pagina.
Basterebbe solo questo.
E poi c'è lo stile.
Quale scrittore degli ultimi cinquant'anni può vantarsi di aver letteralmente inventato uno stile di scrittura?
Ti fr
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Well I finally got around to reading this and what a blast. Great how the forward starts out talking about how people romanticise a golden era that never was and then *bang* it takes you right into this dark, amoral underbelly of America. Gratuitous violence, corruption, blackmail, all delivered with some snappy one liners - sounds like a an episode of The Sopranos, except it makes that lot look positively moral. Oh, and enough conspiracy theory to bring Fox Mulder out of retirement.
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: u-s-a
sei pezzi da mille riprende esattamente da dove american tabloid finisce: da quella stessa camera d'albergo, con pete che guarda, con littell che fa quello che fa.
arrivano nuovi personaggi: wayne jr. - incaricato di ammazzare un negro a dallas in cambio di seimila dollari. il negro scappa e non si trova.
che altro succede a dallas nel frattempo? ah sì, qualcuno si becca tre pallottole e una di queste gli fa esplodere il cervello.
arriva wayne senior, che ha incaricato il figlio di ammazzare il neg
Jul 12, 2018 rated it liked it
(3.5) Among the many things I blame the Trump administration for, I can now include “being cynical enough to read and not hate a James Ellroy novel.” I wasn’t a fan of American Tabloid when I read it almost six years ago and attempts to get back into Ellroy have failed. But this time did the trick. I doubt this book is much better than its predecessor but I was in a mood to read it in a way I wasn’t before. It held my interest from beginning to end and I’m gonna miss it a little. Ellroy plays wi ...more
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fucking awesome.
Sep 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Still good, but not as good as the opener of this trilogy "American Tabloid" (a must-read for crime fiction enthusiasts). Among one of the most racism-based books I have ever read, "The Cold Six Thousand" pulls no punches in showing the hatred White America had for the Outsider (whether it be African-Americans, Viet Cong, and Communists). It is written in short, quick pace that Ellroy said was specific to this book alone due to its storyline being set through the mid-60s. This format does make t ...more
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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

Other books in the series

Underworld USA (3 books)
  • American Tabloid (Underworld USA, #1)
  • Blood's a Rover (Underworld USA, #3)
“Cab drivers are night-riding denizens of the first order. They view wretched foibles from a gutter perspective.” 1 likes
“The spook pimp was up. The spook pimp was de-O’d and revived. He bossed his whores around. He made his whores strip. He made his whores hop on three tables. They linked up. They performed table tricks. They French-kissed and went 69. Wayne weaved. Pete steadied him. A Buddhist monk walked in. His robe dripped. He looked stupefied. His robe reeked of gas. He bowed. He squatted. He lit a match. He gook-cooked with gas. He whooshed. He flared. Flames hit the ceiling. The lez shows dispersed. The monk burned. The fire spread. Some clubhoppers screeched. The barman stretched a fizz cord. The barman spritzed club soda. The barman sprayed the monk.” 0 likes
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