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The Old Religion

2.90  ·  Rating details ·  146 ratings  ·  18 reviews
The investigation focused on the Jewish manager of the factory, Leo Frank, who was subsequently forced to stand trial for the crime he didn't commit and railroaded to a life sentence in prison. Shortly after being incarcerated, he was abducted from his cell and lynched in front of a gleeful mob.

In vividly re-imagining these horrifying events, Pulitzer Prize-winner David Ma
Paperback, 194 pages
Published May 1st 2002 by Harry N. Abrams (first published 1997)
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2.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  146 ratings  ·  18 reviews

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May 13, 2010 added it
I gave this book multiple attempts. But it stunk stunk stunk! I returned it to the library without getting through the first 20 pages. The writing style is not satisfying. The characters are flat. Drek.
Brandy Boyd
Oct 12, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: NOBODY
this book took a terrible story, sucked the blood from it, gave it xanax, a horrible case of OCD, and made me roll my eyes from beginning to end. i would have said that the true story of a racially motivated set up and castration/lynching would be impossible to numb. lesson learned.
Sep 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
Tough read. Interesting at first, but fades.
Alex Goodman
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
Good premise delivered weird
Jonathan Gruber
Feb 15, 2019 rated it did not like it
interesting premise (the inner dialogue of leo frank) but too obtuse - might have worked as a play!
A fictionalized account of real events that occurred in Atlanta Georgia in 1913-1915. Leo Frank, a Jewish man in his late twenties who was the manager of a pencil factory, was wrongfully accused of the rape and murder of a thirteen-year-old girl who worked at the factory. He was indicted on scurrilous testimony, jailed, tried, convicted, and sentenced to die. While recovering from having his throat slashed by an inmate, he was abducted from the jailhouse infirmary by hooded men and hung by a mob ...more
A powerful, sad book. Written in an experimental style that is a little difficult at first, but soon, I found myself lost in the main character's mind; which, by the way is where a lot of the book takes place.

This book is a strong cry against anti-Semitism, against racism, and several other "-isms." The novel is based on true events. The book jacket almost gives the whole thing away, but it's worth the read simply to experience Mamet's storytelling style.

I have never read anything like this, a
Feb 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Given Mamet's prominence as a dramatist I find it hard to understand why this superb novel is not better known. Based on the tragic story of Leo Frank, a Jewish business man who was lynched in 1914 for a murder he had not committed, this novel explores the fragile integration of Jews in the racist society of the Bible belt. Mamet does a wonderful job of trying to recreate the state of mind of Leo Frank in the days before the murder that's going to upend his life, during his trial and the few mon ...more
Michael Lackey
Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
At times stilted, this book is worth reading nonetheless. Brilliantly charts the evolution of Leo Frank's thinking as he figures out why he has been unjustly convicted for the murder of a young factory girl. At first, Frank is an undisciplined thinker, and his inner monologues betray his simple mindedness. But as his trial progresses, he hones his thinking ability and starts to make some crucial discoveries about anti-Black and anti-Semitic racism in the United States. The book is certainly wort ...more
Feb 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Although based on historical fact, this is more about the imagined personal philosophy of a Jewish man accused, 'tried and convicted of the rape-murder of a 13 year old girl than it is about an 'old religion'. It highlights the latent antisemitism of the locale and era in the way evidence was ignored and prejudice was instigated. This is not any easy read, nor is it a comfortable one.
Aug 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels
A great experiment, if not a great novel. This true crime story is stripped of most of its physical details and instead presented as a series of fragmented interior monologues-- revealing at times but often too esoteric, too obtuse. Even after spending so much time in his head, the character feels opaque.
Mar 27, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Another bargain find at my local bookshop, I picked this up in high school having no idea who David Mamet was or how little I'd understand this novel. I know if I went back and re-read the thing, I'd likely get it and probably enjoy it. But I've not done that. Instead State and Main became one of my top 5 favorite movies of all time.
Aug 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Mamet has a gift for direct description and narrative concision. He sees the universal in the specific.

Reminds me of a DFW story in Brief Interviews where the victim of a horrendous act is in a unique and almost enviable position, having learned something about people which most of us will never see.
Oct 02, 2009 rated it it was ok
For me, Mamet's writing style is really best used in drama (stage or screen). There were some really powerful scenes in this book but the minimalist approach didn't allow me to learn much about the true story the novel is based on.
May 02, 2009 rated it did not like it
Absolutely did not like this. Also absolutely didn't understand this. Maybe I just didn't get it.

I thought I would just push through it. I kept thinking, I'm smart, I should get this, right? Then I realized summer is just too short for me to waste my time on this piece of crap. :)
Matthew Wilson
It took me while to get Mamet's inner dialogue. Fascinating take on a shameful act in history. I loved this line:

"Perhaps the Christians are right, that we should take all we have and give to the poor...
if they would, I would."
Depressing, like his plays.
Susan Polcz/Volbrecht
Sep 30, 2007 is currently reading it
Recommends it for: pretty much everyone.
I'm only about 100 pages into this, but it's a different take on "true crime"...if you don't mind heavy introspection, you'd like it. In fact, if you like Nabakov, you'll like it.
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David Alan Mamet is an American author, essayist, playwright, screenwriter and film director. His works are known for their clever, terse, sometimes vulgar dialogue and arcane stylized phrasing, as well as for his exploration of masculinity.

As a playwright, he received Tony nominations for Glengarry Glen Ross (1984) and Speed-the-Plow (1988). As a screenwriter, he received Oscar nominations for Th