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Libra [Paperback]

Don DeLillo
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Dec 1998
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 disgruntled CIA operatives who decide that an unsuccessful attempt on the life of the president will galvanize the nation against communism, the scales are irrevocably tipped.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 456 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (3 Dec 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140127119
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140127119
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 387,592 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

An unparalleled trip into the heart of America (Observer )

Wonderful (Guardian )

Even with all the swirling contradictory data, this you feel is America, and the news starts here (Sunday Times )

Monumental, DeLillo at his chilling best. Concentrates on the inner life of the people who shaped the Kennedy assassination. He constructs the very human faces behind a monstrous event, creating fiction which trespasses on reality (Time Out )

An audacious blend of fiction and fact (The Times ) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Don DeLillo was born and raised in New York City. He has written fifteen novels and three stage plays and has won many honours including the National Book Award for White Noise, the International Fiction Prize for Libra, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for Mao II, the Jerusalem Prize, the Howells Medal for Underworld and the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Libra: Fiction in a World of Ficton 13 July 2012
By JoeBB02
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
At a question and answer session a few years ago the somewhat overrated actor Gary Oldman was asked: throughout his long and winding career, what was the most enjoyable role he has had the pleasure of playing? Oldman did not ponder, instead instantly blurting out

"Oswald. He didn't do it, by the way."

This seven word statement was followed by cheers and a round of applause from a now rowdy, clearly conspiracy oriented, audience. Oliver Stone in the years following JFK had been a quite staunch conspiracy theorist - on one occasion forcing the late JFK Jr. to leave a dinner by consistently turning the conversation with lines like "you can't seriously believe the Warren Commission?" - but Oldman's quote and the subsequent response showed that the events of November 22, 1963 still have an effect on Americans as the fiftieth anniversary looms, and possibly the wrong effect.

I start with this grim reminder as I could not help but feel that DeLillo's book must have, at some point, been considered as a Hollywood project. Published in 1988, long before Stone picked up a copy of On the Trail of the Assassins, DeLillo's writing plays upon the reader's images of Oswald and Ruby in such a way that its translation to screen would have been seamless. A further positive would be that DeLillo, unlike Stone, Garrison or Marrs, readily admits that his piece is fiction - a positive step in story telling which neither of the other two acknowledged about their own. It would not be hard to imagine this book with fifty pages of footnotes and placed on the `Alternate History' shelves of your local bookstore. But it is this which DeLillo has done so well, he has taken an existing subject, gone down the "what if?
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mesmerising novel 27 Feb 2004
Format:Paperback
'Libra' is absolutely brilliant. Simply by the biography of Lee Oswald it is gripping and intense, but combined with the infamous conspiracies in which he may (or may not) have been involved, the probing descriptions of the agents, Oswald's wife and his mother it is a masterful novel.
You're constantly wondering what is fact and fiction, a device that is as clever as it is easy to employ on such a subject; The entire enigma of JFK's assassination is tightly woven into American fabric thirty one years on.
Delillo has created something powerful and moving with 'Libra' and I can't recommend it enough. It is a daunting trip into an incomprehenisble time in American history.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing 18 May 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Another superb read from perhaps the greatest American writer of his geneartion. Unlike many novels concerning JFK/LHO DeLillo's attempt details event from two different angles. The first which explores Lee Harvey Oswald's life is well 'fleshed out' by the authors dazzling creativity and is, in my view, the more interesting of the pair. The other more convetnional plot sees the infamous conspiracy to assasinate the young president unfold. Such is the quality of the authors delivery and characterisation, by the end we are left sypathising with Lee Harvey Oswald, one of the most notorious men of the twentieth century. On the whole I'd recommend this novel to anyone who has enjoy DeLillo previously or anyone with a general interest in the recent history of the U.S.A.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another book for the top ten. 19 April 2010
Format:Paperback
Somtimes you see a book and read a few reviews on Amazon and you just know it's for you.Immediately after starting this book I had a feeling it was going to be superb.The writing is first class,the kind that is rare.The story is of course familiar but added to in a clever sophisticated way,rather than blindly slapping on layers of conspiracy.Regardless of the subject matter it's a stand up book and he surely could have written an equally engrossing book if he had just made it all up.It pulls you in,and you won't find yourself racing through the last few pages.A classic to the very last word.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliantly achieved 14 Mar 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
i thought this was a truly great book.
it is not a "conspiracy" novel as such, because while it deals with a lot of that kind of material surrounding the assassination of j.f.k., it's main achievement lies in an investigation of how many of the "cast" - oswald in particular, of course - might have thought and felt and reached their positions and attitudes.
delillo brilliantly gets imaginatively "inside" the minds of his characters, and their memories and the forces that drive them. whether his insights are "true" is beside the point. he goes into their histories and interactions and makes you believe in them from the inside.
in the end it is this examination of the thoughts and feelings and souls and minds of the principal characters in those fervent times that is the subject of this book, as much as the actual connections that may, or may not, have lead to the final act.
james ellroy covers the same material very differently, if also brilliantly. interestingly i heard ellroy on the radio choosing "libra" as his one "desert island" favourite book. it is not hard to see why.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful 20 Mar 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Don Dellilo with Libra claims the title of the modern master of the Hemmingway iceberg -- a plot that pokes out of the surface of the water, leaving the reader to imagine the massive form below the surface that keeps it afloat... Or, less is more. Brilliant.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars a good read
id recommend this book to any one interested in the jfk conspiracy.reads like a thriller,with interesting and believable characters.also gives you a good insight into 1960s dallas.
Published 3 months ago by andy
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful evocation of one of Americas darkest days.
Fact and fiction merge in this rich reimagining of the Kennedy assassination told through the lives of some of its main protagonists. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Sera69
2.0 out of 5 stars Just couldn't get into it
I have now read half this book and I've given up, I just can't get into it and find it extremely boring. I note all the very positive reviews on amazon but I just don't get it. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Jonathan A. K. Cummins
4.0 out of 5 stars Libra
Don DeLillo spins a good story that is very readable. At the end of this one feels that Lee Harvey Oswald was always destined to do something dramatic in Russia or the USA. Read more
Published 14 months ago by John F. E. Wright
5.0 out of 5 stars Nightmare on Elm Street
DeLilo before he became too much of a `great' novelist for his own good. Brilliant, cold, precise - whether it's `true' or not doesn't matter in the literal sense. Read more
Published on 1 Jan 2010 by A. Willard
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but superseded by Ellroy...
Your reaction to this book depends, I think, on whether you have read James Ellroy's trilogy of America in the 1950s and 1960s. Read more
Published on 30 Dec 2009 by bloodsimple
5.0 out of 5 stars A piece of history worth treasuring...
I had to read 'Libra' for my university module on Contemporary American Fiction. I have to say I was impressed. Read more
Published on 6 Mar 2007 by J. Westgarth
5.0 out of 5 stars 1988's Oswald-themed novel
DeLillo's breakthrough novel was 'White Noise', its follow-up 'Libra' was another classic and one of his key works alongside 'White Noise' and... Read more
Published on 10 Mar 2006 by Jason Parkes
5.0 out of 5 stars DeLillo at his best
The way the author links up the life of Lee Harvey Oswald (the Libra of the title) with the multiple and convoluted conspiracies to stage an assassination attempt is completely... Read more
Published on 7 Jan 2005 by Adam Kelly
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