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Libra (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 2 Mar 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (2 Mar. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141188227
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141188225
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 440,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"Extraordinary intensity...unforgiving thoroughness...DeLillo has created a thriller of the most profound sort...Libra is electrifying, a book alive with suggestion." --Chicago Tribune

"Libra operates at a dizzyingly high level of intensity throughout; it's that true fictional rarity--a novel of admirable depth and relevance that's also a terrific page-turner." --USA Today

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

The author of thirteen novels, five plays, and numerous short stories, Don DeLillo was born in 1936. Americana (1971), his first novel, announced the arrival of a major literary talent, and the novels that followed confirmed his reputation as one of the most distinctive and compelling voices in late-twentieth-century American fiction. DeLillo's comic gifts come to the fore in White Noise (1985), which won the National Book Award, and Underworld (1997), with its vivid portraits of actor Jackie Gleason and standup comedian Lenny Bruce.


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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
DDL is variable - between the torrid brilliance of White Noise and The Names, and the piffling pseudery of The Body Artist, for example, lies a Grand Canyon of quality - but this novel packs a powerful punch. Some of the protagonists are still household names, other less so (and many don't use their real names anyway), but note how they inhabit the margins of things - cities, towns, organisations, society, themselves - and the thwarted bitterness running like a poisoned stream through their lives. They want someone to blame, someone to take it out on, and there are cleverer, more shadowy figures lurking in the background who are prepared to push all the right buttons to ensure they do just that. The book has the clammy tension of a first-rate thriller and scenes of vivid brutality punctuate the action - Oswald in military prison; Jack Ruby kicking the stuffing out of a man who gropes one of his club hostesses. Violence is the keynote of this extraordinary work and though the killing of Kennedy is its denouement it seems that, even today, more than 50 years after the event, no closure has been reached, the terrible wounds still gaping wide open.
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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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By A Customer on 18 May 2000
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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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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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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Format: Paperback
This is an OK read, but throughout the book I kept thinking, but is this bit true or has DeLillo made this up? The problem is that while some of the story is obviously based on facts relating to Lee Harvey Oswald and the assassination of JFK, a lot of the details are fiction, invented by the author to turn a news item into a story. The same with the characters: some are real and some aren't. But we don't know where the division lies, and while this might not matter to some readers, for me it reduced the enjoyment of the story.
The thing is, it's interesting if true. But the parts that aren't true lose that interest value, and because this can't work as a thriller, because we already know the outcome, it fails as an entertaining novel. Facts should be interesting, fiction should be entertaining, but mixing the two is difficult, and in my view it doesn't really work here.
I found the opening chapter, written in short, blunt sentences that soon grated on me, rather poor, but luckily it began to pick up soon after, and gradually the novel grew in stature, till it reached a peak towards the end when we get to the assassination scene, which I thought was really good. This is followed by a weaker last chapter seen from Oswald's mother's point of view. So overall, rather a mixed bag: not bad, not great.
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