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on 25 September 2014
This is a riveting read, which is just as well, because it's a long book! I was a child when these events occurred so have no particular memories, save a familiarity with the name.
It's an examination of Gilmore's life, crimes and punishment. But more than this, Mailer's account encompasses the stories of all the players: Gilmore's family, friends, his girlfriends, the lawyers, judges, the media and the victims and their families.
What struck me, is that, apart from the authors depiction of those victims, in the media frenzy that follows Gilmore's arrest, trial and the drawn out road to his execution, there is almost no mention made of them. It's all about Gilmore.
I got a sense of his nihilism, self absorption, lack of empathy and, what seems to me, feigned inner turmoil.
This extends to his girlfriend; her overriding obsession with him that eclipses entirely her role as a mother of young children; their correspondence, Gilmore's poetry, the various interviews and the adolescent suicide pacts.
The focus shifts to his demand for his death sentence to be carried out which polarises opinions and galvanises civil and legal activists. It also provides a fantastic stage for Gilmore and his girlfriend and they certainly knew how to play an audience. The media willingly provided that stage and everyone seems to be in it to see how much they can make!
This may seem like a very cynical interpretation and I am sure other readers will have many differing reactions to this story because Mailer himself isn't making any judgements. He gives you the whole enterprise, through interviews, transcripts, and letters. Then leaves the reader to make of it what they will.
I don't think I now have any clearer views on the death penalty or any insights into what makes a criminal like Gilmore.
The more I read, the less sympathy I felt for any of the people involved in the events. I kept waiting for Gilmore to say sorry for taking the lives of two innocent victims for no reason. To give a convincing account. It never happened of course.
So, to conclude, a comprehensive, masterful account; well worth the effort whatever your feelings about the subject matter. A good, unbiased, thorough tour of the underbelly of criminality and the justice system in America focused through the polarising lens of the Gary Gilmore farce. And his execution? Although I have strong reservations about this practice, in this instance: no great loss.
Good kindle copy.
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on 29 November 2014
This is a book I have yet to finish, being 75% of the way through, despite having no other book on the go at present. The story of the life of Gilmour is in many ways a sad one. Here, he is portrayed as an intelligent man who suffered both for the US penal system and from his own uncontrollable personality. Once he is sentenced then the story takes in the media interest in making capital out of him and his fate. In many ways this is just as unsavoury as his life.
Mailer handles the material in journalistic style and if he makes judgements then it is perhaps in his selection of material rather than in any comments of his own.
Though long, it is an interesting read and case history.
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on 31 October 2014
This well known book is excellent even for someone who remembers the whole thing from a distance. It is highly recommended and I will not review the story as it has been reviewed adnauseum by others better than me.

My only warnings are.....it's very long and unnecessarily so in my opinion. It simply does not need the mini biographies of some of the supporting cast.

The other warning.....don't be put off by the scant reference to the victims of the murders. It annoyed me until I realized the focus of the book is on Dalmer and to mention the victims in detail would be a whole different book.
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on 12 March 2018
cover ok... pages a little tired looking and even though i have been careful not to bend it back because its a thick book the pages are now coming out
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on 8 February 2018
Good story but a cast of characters would help as the lawyers multiply like rabbits!! I got bogged down with the legalities.
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on 14 November 2016
I remember seeing The Executioners Song on TV years ago so I thought I would give this book a read. It is good, but can be a abit boring and longwinded and I tended to lose concentration after abit. Having said that it is an interesting read.
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on 4 December 2017
Great service and good read
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on 15 November 2014
A very long book but absolutely compelling, I found myself not wanting to put it down and wound up reading late into the night every night for a couple of weeks. A very real retelling of a true story in a novel, illustrating the complexity of Gary Gilmore and the other main characters in an honest way. I was impressed by the way Mailer holds your attention all the way through,even when you know how it ends.Looking forward to reading other work by Mailer.
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on 1 November 2013
Really long book but I read it fast as it is so fascinating- full of ridiculously well researched information about Gilmore and those involved in his life from childhood to the end. Simultaneously extremely well written and gripping to read- but loaded with facts. Great insight into the personalities involved in the case, makes a historical news story into a great novel. Brilliant!
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on 24 April 2014
What a stunning performance from all, a class film not got round to reading yet but can't wait will be more in depth no doubt
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